Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hannan and Sorkin: arch-ideologues?

We have Dan Hannan, the Peruvian Irishman, claiming to be dictating Cameron's agenda:
What’s better than leading a political party? Getting to determine its manifesto without any of the hassle of actually, you know, leading it. I’ve observed before that, line by line, chapter by chapter, The Plan: Twelve months to renew Britain is becoming official Tory policy. My friend and co-author Douglas Carswell is miffed at the lack of acknowledgement, and you can see his point: David Cameron’s policy wallah, Steve Hilton, has cut and pasted bits of our text with neither alteration nor attribution.

Then, from way out in left field, the Pert Young Piece lobbed in a fast one.
What was George W. Bush's first substantive action as President?
Err ... The No Child Left Behind plan for wholesale education reform?
Where did the idea originate?
In the fertile mind of Aaron Sorkin, perhaps.
As is inevitable, she offered some evidence. Equally inevitably, it came from the script of The West Wing. Series One, episode Twelve, to be precise (and she always is):
TOBY: The era of big government is over.
BARTLET: You want to cut the line?
TOBY: I want to change the sentiment. We’re running away from ourselves, and I know we can scorepoints that way. I was the principle architect in that campaign strategy, right along with you, Josh. But we’re here now. Tomorrow night, we do an immense thing. We have to say what we feel. That government, no matter what its failures are in the past, and in times to come, for that matter, the government can be a place where people come together and where no one gets left behind. No one... gets left behind, an instrument of... good. [pause] I have no trouble understanding why the line tested well, Josh, but I don’t think that means we should say it. I think that means we should... change it.
No Child Left Behind was a mere squeak compared to Sorkin's notion of an all-embracing ... well, "socialism" if one must. After all, what else is a concept of egalitarian, all-embracing social involvement? In place of something that grand, Bush's proposal (which went to Congress on 23 January 2001) amounted to:
  • testing regimes in schools;
  • loosening the Federal restraints on the use of educational monies;
  • a few pilot schemes;
  • a worthwhile, if nugatory, $600 million for literacy schemes across the whole US (i.e. about $2 per capita);
  • the usual bleat on improving the quality of the teaching force.
What goes around, comes around

Neither Hannan nor Sorkin -- not Bush, nor Obama -- operate in a vacuum. They are acquiring and recycling received ideas from elsewhere. In the case of No Child Left Behind, there were obvious and acknowledged borrowings from Australia, via Britain. Equally so with the sound-bites.

Similarly, and ignobly, Hannan's Twelve months to renew Britain is a rag-bag of rightist rubbish. At one intent, it borrows from Ted Heath's Selsdon Conference of January 1970 (and look where that went). There also is infection from the ga-ga world of the UKIP Little Englanders. It lifts a catch-penny title from Tony Blair's 1997 pre-election Stockton speech. Even the cover (right) looks like something from the Ministry of Information, circa 1947.

Fortunately, Hannan's ends are impossible in any practical politics:
  • His recipe starts by the UK squelching the Human Rights Act, ditching the European Convention of Human Rights. Both achieved by diktat under the Royal Prerogative: no messy legislation or Parliamentary approval needed.
So there's a good democratic start.

Short of retrospective legislation (more good democracy!), that means, for a further decade, legal actions under the earlier dispension would have to grind their Jarndiced way through the courts of the land, on the way to the EC of HR. And, when their actions reach the EC of HR, British citizens would be seeking redress in a court where no British representation remains! Weird, that.
  • Then the UK pulls out of the European Union for all practical purposes, save as a detached trading partner and for occasional over-the-fence discussions with the lot next-door.
Of course, the others in the EU are going to accept that like true Mensches: we take what we can get; and render nothing except spittle in return.

After all, goes the Little Englander argument, Mexico has a trading arrangement with the EU, so why not a detached UK? Well, apart from the 10.9% of UK exports to Germany, the 10.4% to France, the 7.1% to Ireland , the 6.3% to the Netherlands, the 5.2% to Belgium, and the 4.5% to Spain 4.5% (2006 figures), not a lot! It might be worth recalling, though, that a substantial element there are those Japanese car-assemblies, which might be re-sited in Hungary or Poland, rather than compete across an unnecessary trade-barrier.

As a comparison, the EU imports from Mexico (beer and guano?) were worth €11.9 billion in 2007: exports were €20.9 billion. Compare that with the total value of UK Exports (2008): £234,178,000,000. Positive thinking, chaps!

Do we also close the Channel Tunnel or just have customs controls at Folkestone and Coquelles: "All out! Passports! Open your cases for inspection!" The Daily Mail and its ex-pat owner will love that. And we'd have to armour-plate 300+ miles of the land frontier with the EU, of course.

Thanks to the Pert Young Piece, Malcolm reckons he now values one aspect of Dubya way above anything yet to buzz out of the fevered bonnet of Hannan. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

You forgot to mention Bush's awful grammar. Where is the verb? At least Sorkin proof read his script.


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