|British politician and Member of the European Parliament, representing South East England for the Conservative Party.|
GLENN: From Radio City in Midtown Manhattan, third most listened to show in all of America. I love this guy. We've had him on before. His name is Daniel Hannan. He is a member of parliament for the EU and I think he hates it as much as a lot of people apparently hate the EU in Europe. Daniel Hannan, welcome to the program.
CALLER: Hi, Glenn, nice to be here.
GLENN: Good to talk to you. So this weekend you guys did some crazy thing where you have an election, you know, on a weekend when people are around.
HANNAN: Exactly. Well, they do on the continent. In Britain we have those on Thursday but then weirdly we're not allowed to count them until the last polling station is closed on the continent. So we did not actually count them until last night.
GLENN: Okay. So what are we supposed to learn? Because the media here is saying that this is a surge to the right.
GLENN: First of all, explain what that means. What does your right means because there's also stories now that the right is like the Nazi party right.
HANNAN: Sure. It's a very good question. The term "Right" isn't used in exactly the same way on this side of the Atlantic. First of all they mean really the big beneficiaries are the kind of Christian Democrat parties which would be Democrats, I guess, in the U.S. I mean, they certainly wouldn't be what a Glenn Beck listener would recognize as a conservative rightwing party. And they've done pretty well because you know what? The left always does well when the right has sorted out under the circumstances. And the left always does badly when people realize that there is work to be done. So the leftwing party did really well after the Cold War because conservative parties had made Europe safe for them. And suddenly they thought they could splurge out of welfare and all this kind of stuff. And then the recession came along and people thought, that's enough, we need the grownups now, we can't have this anymore. And so there was a swing back. You are right, some of the parties that are called far right are, of course, nothing of the kind. There is an outrageous semantic trick being played whereby parties which are corporatist and socialist, that want nationalization, that hate free trade, you know, you are called rightwing because our media used the word "Rightwing" as a synonym for bad guy.
GLENN: You know, it's amazing because we've been having this discussion on the radio and on television here on my show for a while that the choices in America are becoming big government Republican or big government Democrat, and there's nobody really representing freedom and small government or the smallest possible government. And it strikes me as that's kind of what the game is being played here in Europe as well, that you have the rightwing which seems to be a nationalist, statist or corporatist sort of party and then you've got the socialist. So you've got big government whichever way you go.
HANNAN: I think that's true. I mean, look, I wish we had your problems. You are right in what you say. I'm just saying this as an outsider, but I think that is true. I think the Republican Party, of which I'm generally a big supporter, and I'm a much more complicated supporter of your party than my own party. But in the Bush years they made mistakes and they went down this road towards big federal spending and budget deficits and, you know, trampling over states rights even on ludicrous issues like the gay marriage amendment. You know, they became the party of field tariffs and external protectionism and in the end they became the party of bailout and nationalizations. And so you are right. But you know what? With all of that I would rather have the choice that you have than the choices that we have in Europe because you are at least starting from a position where there is the choice of the free market whereas we have moved decades away from that and there is an assumption of state control in both the Christian and Democrat parties in Europe. And there are some tiny kind of libertarian parties on the fringes, but the real challenge for us, I mean for the British conservative party is to try and create in the European Union some kind of official opposition because for 50 years the European parliament has worked on the basis that everyone wants more government, everyone wants more tax, everyone wants more European integration. And our challenge is to try and piece together different parties from different countries of decent free market patriotic politicians and saying, hang on, there's a different way of doing this.
GLENN: And that seems to be what people are voting on. It's almost like here in America where people are starting to say, you know what, I believe in state rights, or, I want the control not to be in Washington but closer to my home, et cetera, et cetera. That's kind of the same feeling that I'm sensing from Europe that it is they want the power pulled back to their own countries.
HANNAN: Absolutely right they do. And clearly that is the result of the election in the United Kingdom that we've just had. Seven out of ten votes went to Euro skeptic parties, the parties that campaigned on a pro Brussels ticket were clobbered. You know what? Again I compare your system to the EU system, and I would love to swap my problems for yours. I mean, your Constitution in my version is 11 pages long and it has rights for the individual. The proposed EU Constitution is 580 pages long and is about the power of the state. Your Declaration of Independence promises life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Our charter of fundamental rights guarantees your right to strike action, affordable housing and free healthcare. You know, there is an absolutely basic foundational difference between the philosophy of the European Union and the philosophy of the U.S. You were very lucky in when you were founded as a country. Your founders had fought against a system of remote government where they feared the concentration of power because they had seen where it led and they deliberately tried to create a Constitution based on what you had, the principles, the diffusion of power, the decentralization of decision making. I'm afraid the EU is also a child of its time and it is based on the idea of ever close a union. Item 1, line 2 commits to an ever closer union and therein lies all the problems because if you have more centralization of power, you get more bureaucracy, you get higher taxes, more regulation, less competition.
GLENN: I have to tell you, I mean, we're talking to Daniel Hannan. He is a member of the EU parliament from England and, you know, I'm always ashamed when I talk to you because everybody is I mean, like you, you just I mean, you know every me, I know Henry the 8th I think killed a bunch of his wives and Winston Churchill was the prime minister. I don't know enough about English history. You know what I mean? It seems like a lot of people overseas kind of know a little bit more about America than we know about them. I guess maybe that's why we're
HANNAN: Yeah, okay, but listen. I'm not sure that is true, but the reason that I'm interested in the U.S. is not just out of kind of historical interest. It's because I can see that your system is working. And with all its floors and I'm not going to say that it's perfect at the moment. I listen to your show enough to know that there are plenty of people that were unhappy about things. But, you know, there are way worse alternatives, and the there were tens of millions of people tuning in all over the world to listen to your president's inauguration speech. Now, you may or may not have supported the president but what a vote of confidence in the system that people all over the world believe in the U.S. in the capacity of the ballot box to change direction. You can't imagine people tuning in to watch the results of the European elections that we've just had. Yet alone the annual meeting of the national people's congress in Peking or the results of the Duma elections in Russia. You know, we are very lucky in the world in who the preponderant power is. And you guys I suspect sometimes take for granted, will do this, you take for granted things that you've grown up with and that you assume are a permanent fixture, that there are qualities of the American political system which go right back to the vision your founders had which are unique. You know, this idea of electing everybody from the garbage guy to the, you know, school board to the sheriff, the idea of having referendums on things, recall, you know, the idea of primaries to choose your candidate, these things I'm sure you don't even discount, you don't even really debate them. But very few other countries approximate that system as though things that have kept you free and prosperous and made you strong and powerful.
GLENN: Let me take you here. Are you familiar with the band Muse?
GLENN: I'm a fan of the band Muse and they are huge over in Europe and if you listen to their lyrics, they are very much "Take the power back." And you can sense the European disenfranchisement with government. Are you at all concerned? Are you seeing any developing trends of, you know, what your own security service said in England is coming this summer calling it the summer I think they called it the summer of rage.
HANNAN: Definitely there is a sense of disconnection between government and governed. That is very obvious. It's obvious not just in the election results but in the abstentia rates. I mean, the single most clunking facts about the elections to the European parliament is that every election results in a lower turnout from the previous one. There hasn't been a break. It's been an unbroken decline since we started electing the European parliament in 1979. The more people know about this system, the less they like it and the less they want to kind of dirty their hands with the ballot paper. These things can be solved. I mean, this sense of distance between lawmakers and the rest of us, there are mechanisms that you could use to narrow the gap and there are a lot of things we could import or reimport from your system. You say, you know, I'm interested in U.S. history, but it's because I'm interested in how we can repatriate the best elements of our revolution. If I look back to what your founders were saying or the patriot leaders at the time of the American war of independence were saying, they didn't see themselves as rebels. They saw themselves as conservatives. In their own eyes they were defending what they had always assumed was their right to be free born Englishmen. And the tragedy is in this country those things are dying out, the ones that we exported, to you and other continents, we have turned our back on here in the United Kingdom. And the grievances that your leaders laid against George III, that taxes were being raised without consent, that laws were being passed without due constitutional process, that the executive was too big and the legislature was too small, the power had solicited from the citizens to the state, all of those things are coming true in the old world. They are happening now. This is happening now as a result of this wretched superstate, it's happening as a result of the growth of modern socialism in the way that it's now emerged, and it's happened in the growth of the kind of standing bureaucracies that have sucked power away from elected presidents. We have you know, 200 years on, we vindicated all of the fears that your revolutionaries had.
GLENN: If you were an advisor to the Democratic Party or to any of the parties that are, you know, progressive in nature here in America or you were an adviser to President Obama, what would you say is the lesson or lessons that they should take away from the election in Europe?
HANNAN: Don't copy us, you know? Picture me like that guy in H. G. Wells' time machine, the guy from the future who comes back and states, do not go where I've gone. We are further down the process, further down the road that you have just started walking down, towards, you know, universal healthcare, more generous welfare provision, a more powerful state, government regulation of industry and enterprise and so on. And you can see looking at us where it leads. It leads to bankruptcy, moral and literal bankruptcy, it leads to debt, it leads to stagnation, and it leads to a collapse of confidence in political institutions such as what we've just seen in these elections.
GLENN: Daniel, people are saying I mean, you say here in America free healthcare, and there's a lot of people that would say, oh, my gosh, free healthcare, that would help me out a lot, et cetera, et cetera. How do you make the case that you don't know what free healthcare is like?
HANNAN: If it really were free healthcare, you'd have to be insane to be against it, right? Somebody's paying for it. The difference is are you paying for it through your tax system or are you paying for it as a consumer. And if you are paying for it through the tax system, which is what we do in the United Kingdom. We have a basically socialist system where everybody contributes according to how much tax they pay and then there is no price mechanism when you claim it. What you find is that there is no incentive for anyone to reduce costs. Now, of course some people are going to say, well, why should there be any? For heaven sake we're talking about people who are very ill and it's shocking to think that there should be conversations of the competency in here. But when you have no consideration of reducing costs, what that means is that there is less to go around for everyone else, and the people are needlessly suffering because the resources have been squandered elsewhere. Now, I don't think that your system is perfect by any means. You know, and nor do I think the Continental European systems are perfect. You get that problem also when you have a completely insurance based model. I mean, you know, I had a flood here in my bathroom the other day and the first thing that the builder said when he came around to his, is this on insurance, right? How much he quoted for the repair was going to depend on whether I told him that somebody else was paying for it. And, you know, an insurance based system also has inefficiencies. But nothing like a system which is run on socialist lines where everyone pays into the pot and then everything is just distributed by a standing bureaucracy.
GLENN: Whenever the right here in America loses an election, it's happening right now, the media can't stop airing stories about, you know, the only way the right's going to be able to get back in is if they move to the left, move to the left, move to the left. Abandon the principles that they supposedly had and move to the left. Is your media today over in Europe littered with stories about how the only way the left is going to be able to get back into power is to move to the right?
HANNAN: No, weirdly it never works that way, does it? Meaning the conservatives have to be nice to the labor people or the Republicans have to be nice to Democrats. It never applies the other way. I was really amused by an editorial in the New York Times that I have to see the other day saying it's appalling that George Bush stuffed the Supreme Court with these ideological conservatives and what we now need is Obama to stuff the Supreme Court with ideological... either is right or is wrong to have politically based judges. It isn't only right when it's a liberal doing it. Of course, rather in the media world it is because they as I said earlier, they inhabit this funny world where rightwing is a synonym for battered. I think what people are the big story here in Britain and in a number of other countries, the big story now is the rise of what they are calling the far right, which as I say is really the far left, it's the far left party that happens also to be racist. And there is nothing rightwing about these parties. Hayek brilliantly demonstrated in the road to surf Dom that the battle to fascist is a battle between two brothers, two strains of the same ideology that believes in state control. And these parties are a symptom of disenchantment with political class people, use the election as a kind of megaphone to shout at everybody else and they say, okay, these are the guys you least want, then we're going to vote for them just to tell you guys what we think of you. But, of course, the way that is then covered is, oh, it's shocking that there has been this swing to the right. And when they use that word, rightwing, to talk about parties like the British National Party, it doesn't make anyone think more badly of the British National Party. It makes people think more badly of the mainstream right, which is why they carry on linking the words together that way.
I've only got about a minute here. I just wanted to ask you. We're putting all these treasury bonds up for sale. We're selling our debt, and everything must go this week and, you know, we've got China worried about us. How concerned are you, since the last time we talked? More concerned, less concerned, about as concerned that we're trashing our dollar?
HANNAN: Since we last talked, we've not only emptied our treasury and started our credit, we've started this insane policy of printing money and actually I think we reached a new low when there was an editorial in a state run newspaper in Zimbabwe about Britain for its economic mismanagement. They couldn't do anything to dishonor us more in the eyes of the world but being pitied by the Zimbabweans because of the inflationary rate, yeah, you guys are in a worse situation when we last talked but I'm afraid we're falling further down, you know, look down from the cliff and you'll see us almost about to hit the bottom.
GLENN: Holy cow. Daniel, thank you so much.