You think Daniel “scrap the NHS” Hannan is unhinged? It has emerged that David Cameron may be more or less obligated to entertain a divisive foreign figure aligned with the nutjob right of his own party. That’s right, Sarah Palin is lining up a trip to the UK! Her Facebook note entitiled “Concerning a possible trip to the United Kingdom” reads:
Following an article in a British publication on Sunday [Daily Mail article here], I’ve received questions about a possible trip to the United Kingdom. I have received an invitation for a visit to London, and part of that invitation included the offer of arranging a meeting between myself and one of my political heroines, the “Iron Lady,” Margaret Thatcher. I would love to meet her and hope I’ll be able to arrange the trip in the future.
Guido reports that Palin may attend Conservative Party conference in the autumn, with Nick Clegg’s rumoured appearance scrapped to make way for the former Alaskan governor. The possibility of Palin touring the Freedom Zone fringe with Messrs Hannan and Carswell trailing in her wake raises the prospect of a Tory Gaffe-O-Rama on par with Boris Johnson’s freelancing at conference last year.
The document below underscores the central role of the TaxPayers’ Alliance within the Conservative/libertarian right in the UK. The pressure group not only provides tediously repetitive quotes to lazy journalists (“this is a slap in the face for taxpayers blah blah” ) but organises regular off-the-record round table discussions for its right-wing friends.
Much of the guest list for the central-London symposiums reads like a Who’s Who of British Tea Party movement types drawn from politics, business, the blogosphere and think tanks. Daniel Hannan MEP, Douglas Carswell MP, Donal Blaney, Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) all feature alongside less colourful characters such as YouGov founder Stephan Shakespeare, who chairs proceedings. The apparent presence of CCHQ’s Sam Coates and the Liberal Democrats’ former head of comms Mark Littlewood may cause some small embarrassment in the blue and yellow corners while a smattering of business types (including BP’s director of government affairs) provide a Bilderberg flavour to the meetings.
At the very least, it’s an interesting snapshot of the conservative right-wing hinterland in 2010 and yet another reason why the media should qualify statements from the “Rent-a-Quote Alliance”.
With Messrs Hannan, Helmer and their friends preaching the “collective flight from reality” of climate change, the “60 year mistake” of the NHS and equivocating on gay rights, David Cameron may be praying the volcanic ash cloud remains – over Aéroport de Strasbourg and Bruxelles-National, at least:
Cameron’s MEPs are his political equivalent of the mad old lady in the attic.
Ladies and gentlemen, Donal Blaney has left the building! The credentials of the UK’s #11 Conservative blogger as a freedom-to-offend commentator in the Rush Limbaugh mould were left in tatters yesterday after he pulled his blog at the behest of CCHQ. Visitors craving for the stylings of this p*** poor Richard Littlejohn are now greeted with the following:
So, why will those looking for bile about gays, muslims and immigrants now need to look elsewhere? The Young Briton’s Foundation (chief executive D. Blaney) has provided ideological and campaign training to 2,500 Conservative Party activists, including 11 Westminster candidates. Today’s Grauniad has done a number on the YBF, exposing the group – which aims to indoctrinate young Tories with a virulently right-wing agenda – as electoral kryptonite. Policies espoused by the YBF leadership include scrapping the NHS, the use of waterboarding by security services and a US-style liberal firearms regime. Anyone familiar with Blaney’s writing will be unsurprised to discover that many of the most damaging elements of the article were sourced from his blog.
This could be dismissed as a non-story were it not for the fact that “there is an informal understanding that the YBF is the main provider of training for young Conservative activists”. To compound the embarrassment, the latest gathering of the YBF was addressed this week by none other than Eric Pickles and Liam Fox, who number among six Tory frontbenchers to have spoken at group conferences since 2003. Blaney’s personal blog, resplendent in it’s ‘Nasty Party’ worldview, also features endoresments from Daniel Hannan, Michael Gove and Douglas Carswell.
Sunder Katwala has done a brilliant job of setting YBF in the context of a “long tradition of ‘so right-wing you probably think we’re joking’ wing-nuttery” in Conservative youth circles:
“Contrast Norman Tebbit closing down the Federation of Conservative Students for being too right-wing in 1982 with the extent to which the ProgCons engage and champion this Maggie’s Militants rump today … I doubt anybody could believe they are so ill-informed or lazy enough not to know about YBF’s right-wing “radicalisation” mission – which was causing CCHQ disquiet when IDS was leader – and exactly where they are coming from”.
The removal of his blog is some climbdown for Blaney, who has revelled in his image as a champion of (right wing) free speech and a bête noire to the left. Those wishing to crow express their feelings on the matter through the medium of song may find the following appropriate (video below so you can sing along):
Brave Sir Donal ran away.
Bravely ran away away.
When danger reared it’s ugly head,
He bravely turned his tail and fled.
Yes, brave Sir Donal turned about
And gallantly he chickened out.
Bravely taking to his feet,
He beat a very brave retreat.
Bravest of the braaaave, Sir Donal!
Some say he is the love child of Trinny and Susannah. Others that he was sired by the forbidden coupling of a minotaur and a unicorn. All we know is he’s a all for ancient Greek democracy… Yes, Gav Trait is back with another cartooney thing!
“The effort to renegotiate must be real and all necessary guerilla tactics used to get our way out of arrangements that the British people have never okayed … If Britain’s relationship with the EU is fundamentally the same after five years of Conservative government the internal divisions that ended the last Tory period in government will look like a tea party in comparison” – Tim Montgomerie
As smug cheerleaders for a strident, anti-European conservatism, the left love to hate Hannan et al, who are viewed with schadenfreude as a political liability for Cameron. But, as Left Foot Forward reports, the consequences of Tory isolationism on Europe would be catastrophic if proposed renegotiation culminated in an opt out from the social chapter.
With the Conservatives – more than any time in the last fifteen years – looking poised to grasp power, it’s simply astonishing to see prominent figures queueing up to topple the apple cart.