On Wednesday I came across a particularly pointless post of Hannan's on his Daily Telegraph blog. The subject was that old favourite of his: the European Union. Now, the blurb at the top of his blog states that Daniel "loves Europe, but believes that the European Union is making its constituent nations poorer, less democratic and less free." No problem there. While I might be a foaming-at-the-mouth Euroenthusiast, I accept that there are many people out there with legitimate concerns about the EU and that not all of those people who advocate leaving the union are extremists. The odd thing about Hannan's article was that it did not just criticise the European Union but rather bizarrely questioned what exactly constitutes the geographic entity known as Europe.
In a piece entitled 'Americans! Please stop calling us Europeans!', Hannan writes:
Britain is a common-law democracy, connected by outlook and sentiment to the wider community of English-speaking nations. We may be only 22 miles from Europe but, these days, distance hardly matters. Look at where our international telephone calls go: North America, the Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, Australia, New Zealand. In an age of Twitter and cable television, geographical proximity is trumped by ties of language and law, habit and history, blood and speech.
Just what on earth has Hannan been smoking? Is he serious when he states that because English-speaking people in the United Kingdom are more likely to communicate on Twitter with English-speaking people in the United States or Canada, rather than with someone in Amsterdam or Berlin who's language they can't speak, that this makes us less European? Indeed, does this mean that a monolingual Twitter user in Madrid is less European because they converse more with Twitter users in Argentina and Chile than they do with ones in Rome or Warsaw? Of course not. And as for his point about cable television, I think Mr Hannan will find that DVD boxsets of everything from The Wire to Sex and the City are as popular with young people in Munich as they are with those in Manchester.
Dan Han also remarks about how he takes umbridge at Stateside conservatives who ask him what the UK intends to do about the crisis in Greece. He observes that this is akin to him asking Americans when they are "finally going to vote against Hugo Chavez." Again, this is an extremely badly made point for a man of Hannan's intellect. Given that Venezuela is neither in a political union with nor on the same continent as the United States of America, the analogy does not really have much credibility.
Another claim which he makes is that Britain's short distance from mainland Europe does not really matter when it comes to deciding his country's identity, but does he seriously believe - and can he find people who agree with him - that we should feel closer to "the Caribbean (and) the Indian subcontinent" than Paris, a city which nowadays is a mere two hour train journey from London? I find it difficult to believe that deep down he truly does believe this garbage. Perhaps he is just trying a little too hard. After reading the article again, I did get a slight feeling that the man he is trying hardest to win over to the view that Britain is not in Europe is in fact Daniel Hannan.
I have no problem with DH and others like him putting forward an argument against the European Union. However, when he starts to assert that the United Kingdom is not even a European country we have entered a whole new sanity-free realm. I am not going to be so fickle as to replicate his argument from a different perspective and attempt to make the countries in the Anglosphere which he referred to seem 'more foreign'. To be honest, there isn't anywhere in either Europe or North America these days that seems totally alien to me (and I could add Australia to that given that nearly everyone in Ireland appears to have relocated there in the past few years).
Anyhow, here's hoping that Daniel Hannan gets back to writing engaging and thought-provoking articles as soon as he can. He can do so much better than this sort of crazed Eurosceptic jibberish. But there is, however, one question I would like to ask the MEP for South East England if he ever happens to stumble upon this modest little blog: if I'm not living in Europe right now what the hell continent do I belong to?