Tory MEP and 'A' Lister Dan Hannan is an interesting writer whose articles provoke two rather different reactions in me. The usual one is nodding agreement, but just occasionally when I read his articles I faintly hear the sound of howling dogs at midnight.
Dan is deservedly seen as one of the leading Conservative writers of his generation but he is perhaps too obsessed by the European issue for his own good. The publication of the excellent Direct Democracy book last year indicated a desire on his part to build up a domestic policy agend and move away from being pigeonholed as a doughty campaigner against all things EU.
Today's article in the Telegraph (HERE) is a fascinating thesis, detailing Hannan's view that supporters of Israel are mostly of a Euro-sceptic disposition, while Tory Arabists tend to be Europhile.
I am sure it is easy to point to example that prove the theory, but the argument tends to fall at the first fence when you consider that both the current and previous chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel (James Arbuthnot and Gillian Shephard) could hardly be descrbed as chest-beating Europhobes. But let's leave that inconvenient fact aside. He goes on to make this assertion...
Then there is the question of whether Britain belongs with Europe or with the Anglosphere. Europhiles understandably want to align our stance with that of the EU, which refuses to list Hizbollah as a terrorist organisation, and sees a degree of equivalence between the paramilitaries and the Israeli Defence Force. The English-speaking democracies, by contrast, are not shy about taking sides.
I may have missed something but I do not recall a single Conservative politician putting forward a serious proposal that we should ally ourselves with the EU on this, although I am sure that would probably be the view of Chris Patten, were he to be asked. This quote leads Dan Hannan to ask the question: Why, though, do some Conservatives look at the globe through New World eyes, while others remain rooted in Europe?
For Dan Hannan it is simple: The Euro-sceptic/Zionist Conservatives are heirs to the Roundheads. They believe in democracy, however messy its outcomes. They distrust elites and their opinions, and want power devolved to the lowest practicable level.
The Euro-enthusiast/Arabists are Cavaliers. They think that democracy sometimes needs to be tempered by good sense, order and seemliness, and worry lest the wisdom of generations be overturned by a transient popular majority.
He then goes into a lengthy comparison of the two Tory traditions and concludes: Cavaliers call their opponents "neo-cons", and accuse them of contracting out their views to Washington. Roundheads retort that their critics are in thrall to Brussels, and often anti-Semitic. Both charges are unfair: the two traditions are indigenous, patriotic and, at their best, high-minded.
It's a very interesting thesis but one which I think is far too simplistic and flawed. But Hannan is absolutely spot on in his concluding paragraph...
The current controversy isn't only about Israel. It is about whether sovereign states can act unilaterally, whether we trust the UN and other supra-national bodies, whether the West is prepared to use proportionate force in defence of its values and, ultimately, whether democracy is worth having.
Do read the whole article HERE and tell me what you think in the Comments section.