Tuesday 15 December 2009

Is Dan Hannan right?

The Church of St Andrew Undershaft (1532) with the Swiss Re Building (the Gherkin) (2003) behind in St Mary Axe in the City of London

I was interested by this interview with Daniel Hannan. I thought it would be good to link to it here from Calling England’s blog.

Dan Hannan is an interesting man, with a formidable brain and I have respect for what he says. I particularly enjoyed his speech in the European Parliament when, in front of the Prime Minister, he told him like it was, or at least like he saw it with no holds barred. Can you imagine how angry and humiliated Brown must have been at that?

But, I would have to say first off that I think he was wrong in his first assertion that socialist government always ends up like this. It’s only in Britain it always ends like that. Social Democracy has been pretty successful elsewhere in Europe.

He’s right, of course, about the bankers in that they have us over a barrel. They can do whatever they want and we can't do a damned thing. If they break the banks again next year, then we will have to bail them out again. These banks are far too big to go bust, and we need the money that they generate. If we tax them they can go to Singapore, Tokyo, Switzerland or wherever, lock stock and barrel. They can, and according to some, they will. The City will be left with a load of very desirable property, heading for dereliction. And we have built an economy with huge dependence on Financial Services.

So, here we are over this barrel. I’m interested in how we pay off the money we had to borrow to bail them out the first times. I accept that my understanding of economics is as meagre and naive as was Mrs Thatcher’s when she told us that she would run the country like she ran her household. So, I’m just asking how we do it. The next government will have to face this problem, and I imagine that they will not be in favour of a massive tax on wealth earners.

The people who have none of this global freedom of movement are the poor and the moderately off.... They haven’t got us over a barrel. Are we going to tax them more, reduce their pensions? They are nice easy targets, and in apathetic Britain they will probably put up with it, turn their heating down, eat less, and stop buying treats and moan a lot.

If we cut public spending, then we will have more unemployment, a lot of the moderately off will join the poor. The “economically inactive” figure is already at around 8 million. That’s costing a huge amount in welfare benefits, but it also causes considerable social problems: drugs, drunkenness, crime, prostitution, derelict shopping and town centres. Look at what happened in the industrial belt of Scotland when heavy industry was closed down in the 80s. Where will we find 8 million plus private sector jobs?


  1. Dan Hannan is never right, he represents the europhobic wing of my party.

    When it comes to this man, I give absolutely no ground, he is an odious little stain who shuld pack off and join UKIP and leave the Tories to the progressives and pragmatics. We do not need the likes of him.

    Dean, a good european Tory

  2. Good management of the economy starts with low taxation of the populace, low levels of state control and external trade to all nations. Something socialists and the bureaucracy of the EU have never ever grasped. Thatcher said of socialism that it only works till someone else's money runs out.
    Dan Hannan will probably be the Prime Minister after Cameron when his weak social democrat approach to the economy fails and the true Tories kick the EUphiles out of the party and restore the UK to full independence (with or without Scotland, that's your problem)

  3. Us europhiles are real Tories Quiet Man, if anything we represent the true face of torism...given that our party has signed up to more integrationary treaties than any other.

    The europhobes..well...

  4. Yes we've all seen the cast iron promises of the EUphiles in action :-/

  5. Dean,

    I accept that he's very much on another wing of the party from you, but he's pretty intelligent none the less. Obviously you don't agree with him on this, but what would your wing of the party do?

    I don't know the answer; I can accept that he's right that Brown's tax won't work, but the people who caused this have to take some of the flack.... what to do?

  6. It looks like two separate parties from where I'm standing.

    The point is, how do we repay the trillions we are in debt? And how do we deal with 10 million workless and the social problems that it brings, when there are no jobs, unless of course people will work for less than the Chinese?

  7. Tris - better ask the French as they're currently in charge of the UK's financial sector.

  8. Hello there Scunnert:

    Well, we could do that. I doubt they could make a bigger mess than the English (and Scots to be fair) did. I know they had some problems in Paris, but absolutely nothing like we had here.

    But the problem is not the regulation of the City. I read that although this French guy is nominally in charge, he will have very little say over anything except the broad canvas of regulation, not the nitty gritty, so we can look forward to more anglo-saxon incompetence.

    My question though remains. How do we pay it back? Who can we tax? Clearly not the rich because they just refuse to be taxed and, good Brits that they are, they will flee ths coup at the very mention of having to pay up, even just this once. So we will have to tax the middle incomes who are not nearly as mobile and who can't gop abroad because they can't speak a foreign language, and the poor who are totally immobile and no one wants them.

    The old are always good for stuffing. Drop their pensions, reduce their care, take away what little they have and make life even more miserable for them, but they'll have to stay anyway. It's the kind of stinking thing our government would do.

  9. Tris - I think the UK has a little ways to go before the chop comes. Right now it is merely on its knees but transnational capital requires it to be prostrate before it. What little industry is left is now being dismantled. Soon there will be no means left to maintain the populace or service the debt. That's when the coup de grace will be delivered.

  10. So...not too bright a future then scunnert? Well, nothing new. It's not exactly a great past either.

  11. The French do seem to be in control of London now.

    I suppose this could be considered a bad thing, but surely London has been controlled by the French since 1066 [well...francozised normans...]

    But on the brief of this post, I suppose I should make a specific point here.

    Will we find 8 mill jobs in the private sector? No. Especially given that public spending is still very weak [compared to 06 levels], and the importance of the service industry to our unbalanced economy means we will be hit harder for longer in terms of unemployment.

    Ultimately the only way to plug the gap in our budget that Labour miseconomics have left us in is to do a number of unpalatable things after the next election:

    1. huge cuts [i.e. 14% cuts at least] in departmental spending
    2. Tax increases
    3. limited tax cuts for businesses [i think here of cut in corporation tax and holding off NI contributions from employers for another year or to]

    The other aspects all however rest on the assumption that we can dicatate when we act to reduce borrowing, but as Portillo has pointed out a number of times on This Week, that assumption rests on the idea that we can dictate these things....we may yet end up like Ireland, and be forced by the markets, etc to cut now and cut deep.

    The futures bright? No, hell no. It is as bleak as it was in 1970 and 1981...hope you guys all enjoy a good time warp!

  12. Dean. Thanks for that. Cuts of that proportion will mean vast numbers of unemployed. Not to mention a deterioration in services which are already poor compared with most European countries. I was speaking to an Irish friend last night. True that the cuts there are severe, but I thought that that was what mr Murphy told us we would have had to suffer if we had been independent. The UK was supposed to have protected us form all that. But then again he said that we were best placed (or maybe I misheard and he said LAST placed), to come out of the recession. In short whatever he said he was talking through his butt!

    I guess you're not proposing any tax cuts for the rich, as they have already vetoed that by saying they will leave. I see that Michael Caine has already said he will go. Oh no, what shall we do for actors?

    The future isn't bright, you're right. If only they hadn't lied to us in the 70s; if only they hadn't insisted on their silly 40% of the total electorate, including about 8 years worth of the dead, we might have been like Norway.

    Ah well, we can only dream.... what does the old rhyme say:

    If ifs and ans were pots and pans,
    There'd be no need for tinkers.

    Baton down the hatches people and start digging up your gardens for vegetables.

  13. Savings will need to be made. Might I suggest we get rid of the royal family that ought to see us on the way to saving quite a few million quid, you can't get more public sector than them and they are surely the highest paid and least necessary of public servants. What do most of them do all day anyway? Perhaps they would like to go and reign over a tax haven somewhere, spread the benefits of monarchy to less poor parts of the world.

  14. Munguin:

    You make a fair point there. There must be cuts from the top.

    Of course they won't get rid of the monarchy seriously, but it will need to be cut back. People like the extra princesses of Andrew must be ditched from the family. If they want protection then their father must provide for it.

    But that's not all. I'd expect to see a dramatic reduction in the number of palaces used, staff to maintain the family, cars planes, trains etc.

    Likewise the unnecessary frills that go with the Prime Minister's position should go. Why does a modern Prime Minister require to have a stately home in the country, why does the foreign secretary... or any of the others.?
    If I have to wait 6 months for a hospital appointment, I don't see why we are wasting money on things like that.

    Oh, I know the overall amount is tiny, but it is a symbol of pulling together. It can’t just e the "ordinary man" that does the sacrificing. Let’s all do our bit!

  15. Dean:

    At least he's consistent, isn't he....?

  16. We could at the same time increase the amount of tax that the royals pay just as Dean suggests. Cut back on the royal family and huge increases in the amount of tax they pay. They would soon be packing up their art collections into the back of the helicopter and off to the Bahamas.

  17. Munguin:

    Another example of the rich fleeing the country to avoid tax....?

  18. Consistency is a wonderful thing don’t you think?

  19. Tris; I wish they would. She is still queen of the Bahamas isn't she? Not so sure what Charles would do with his duchy’s originals business, so nice to capitalise on inherited wealth don’t you think? And if my ancestors had pinched Cornwall and then left it to me it would be me saying “new towns all round” and “add more salt” to the organic cottage pie stick a hefty price on it and associate it with me I’m royal and so the plebs will lap it up.

  20. Munguin:

    Truth to tell I haven't a clue. Probably she is. I know Canada, New Zealand and Australia, but after that I'm lost.

    To be fair to Charles, all the profit from the Duchy stuff, which is not that good and well overpriced, goes to charity.

  21. That is profit after expenses yes? I wonder what they are?

    Canada, New Zealand and Australia will all be giving them the heave ho after the Queen pops her clogs, lets hope that Scotland can be in that number as well.

  22. Dan Hannan is indubitably right in Dan Hannan world..unfortunately that is a different place from the rest of the normals (us).

    I always remember the video wherein he a middle class English man asked the Irish to vote against the Lisbon treaty.

    To toff like Guffaws in the background we all know the result how he in his diseased mind even imagined the Irish people would give him (a middle class English man)one nano second of consideration.just amazes me as to the level of his self delusion

  23. All this money going in to save the banks seems pointless to me. It won't save them. It just means that when they do fail completely in about a years' time it will be even more spectacular. Sterling has devalued by 30% in a year. Our deficit is rising to £1.4trillion. And we still don't know the size of the hidden toxic losses in the banks balance sheets. Public sector employment has risen by 1 million under Labour with no improvement in services. Yet there are still pages of non jobs advertised in The Gruinad and pay rises for public sector workers and ring fencing against cutbacks. Sheer madness. Criminal even.
    I forecast double digit inflation, mass unemployment, worthless currency and mass protests on the streets.
    Buy euros or canadian dollars and a book on vegetable gardening.

  24. Anon:

    It's a gloomy forecast, but one I've seen before. I wonder just how much more we can take.

    I'm sure that, no, I hope that under the Tories the non jobs will disappear, but that will hardly make a huge difference. If Dean is right and we need to make job cuts of 14%, can you imagine the size of the dole queues? And the social deprivation that will follow.

    You're right Euros, Canadian dollars and vegetable marrows does seem to be the future.

  25. .Niko, old friend, a hundred thousand welcomes back. I thought we'd lost you!

    Whilst I don't agree with most of what Hannan says, and I'm actually really disappointed in him (which I'll explain) I have always thought he was a very clever man.

    I can see his arguments on the bankers. We won't win much by taxing them. It's not right and it's not fair, but when they have you over a barrel... they have you over a barrel.

    If the bankers all go (not that I think they ALL will), the UK will be stuffed. On the other hand it seems so unfair that those who contributed so much to the collapse of UK plc, should contribute so little to its revival.

    But it was the "light touch" regulation (ie; you can do whatever you want, the regulators don't understand much of it, and in any case are usually out to lunch, literally) and loopholes taxation schemes that took all these people to London in the first place.... If you remove it.....?

    Anyway... Hannan. After that little video you talked about I wrote to ask him what he thought about Scotland being independent. He clearly hates the control that Europe has over his beloved Britain, so I thought that the same sentiment might apply to the control that England has over Scotland. It was a polite and respectful letter (actually email), but he never replied. Either he can't be bothered with riff raff like me or he hasn't got an answer, I guess