A couple of weeks ago, I had the misfortune of reading a blog in which Dear Dan cited the repugnant Richard Littlejohn. If you cite Littlejohn to support your argument, you’re at the top of a slippery slope.
First he says,
The grimly efficient Chris Grayling aims to rescue millions from this wretched state. Pilot tests run under the last government yielded astonishing results. When claimants were reassessed in Aberdeen and Burnley, 30 per cent of them were passed fit for work, and another 30 per cent classified as capable of some work.
Then he links to Littlejohn, Britain’s version of Rush Limbaugh.
To understand the magnitude of the task he faces, though, the minister should read this article by Richard Littlejohn (you have to scroll down to the penultimate entry). A woman from Essex was shifted from Jobseekers’ Allowance to Incapacity Benefit three years ago because she is allergic to rubber. The Department of Work and Pensions argued that such a condition needn’t preclude all forms of employment. According to the DWP lawyer: “Her allergy, although inconvenient, has not prevented her from leading a relatively normal life — shopping, socialising, travelling on public transport.” The judges, however, ruled in favour of the claimant: a decision that may encourage others to challenge their reassessment in court.
You can read the original Littlejohn article here but you need to scroll down the page to find the actual article titled “Our amazing India rubber benefit rules”. If you look at the first article, you can see that it harks back to the 1980’s and the “Loony Left council” articles that filled the pages of the Tory tabloid press. These days, a few Torygraph bloggers use the same style. Plus ça change.
The title of Hannan’s blog is dishonest “Can 2.6 million people be too ill to work”? Where does he get this figure from? You get the feeling Hannan is the sort of person who sees clinical depression as the ‘blues’ and a little ‘hard work’ will cure that. All they need to do is “snap out of it”. But it isn’t that easy if you suffer from depression. Here’s the crux of the blog
Between 1971, when Invalidity Benefit was introduced, and the mid-1980s, there were typically around 700,000 claimants. Today, there are 2.6 million (the name was changed to Incapacity Benefit in 1995). We have, tragically, encouraged some people to arrange their affairs around qualifying for the allowance.
There’s only one problem with that figure. It’s wrong. But in order to ram the point home, he includes an image of Wayne and Waynetta Slob. Cheap.
The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that when they have completed the 1.5 million assessments 23 per cent of these people will be fit for work – not 94 per cent, or even 75 per cent. This demonstrates how misguided it is to apply a statistic related to ESA applicants across the board to all Incapacity Benefit claimants.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Eh?
In another blog, Hannan apologizes for the Empire and gets in some praise for his hero, Enoch Powell. The blog has the title “In all the coverage of the atrocities in Kenya, two words are missing”. And which words are those, Dear Dan?
The British Empire was a surprisingly peaceable place. There were sporadic insurgencies, of course, and brutal wars in Ireland, India, Cyprus and Palestine; but many colonies were brought to independence without a shot being fired in anger.
This narrative of the Empire skips over many inconvenient truths to promote the idea that the British Empire – as opposed to the other empires – was, in spite of its evident failures, a force for good. The rest of the paragraph gets a little confused.
The Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya was the exception. The mutineers were uncommonly ruthless, perpetrating monstrous atrocities against loyalist and neutral Kenyans, of whom nearly 3,000 were murdered. The response was commensurately severe: 1,090 terrorists were hanged and as many as 71,000 detained without due process.
On the one hand he condemns the actions of the so-called Mau Mau and on the other, he tells us that the response to the rebels (whom he refers to as mutineers) was severe. But this was always the response when native people were yoked to a greater, colonizing nation. They fight to wrest control of their land from the invader and will kill anyone who is seen as a collaborator. Presumably the resistance movements of World War II cut no ice?
In the second paragraph, he uses the atrocities committed at the Hola Camp to have a pop at the Guardian.
Abuses took place in the internment centres, culminating in the beating to death of eleven detainees by security guards at the Hola camp. Guardianistas, of course, slot the episode neatly into their evil-imperialists-versus-nice-natives narrative.
Mmmm, hmmm, Let’s read the rest,
But the point about the Hola killings is that they led to an outcry in the House of Commons, a wave of revulsion in the country, and a hastening of the independence process.
What he doesn’t mention is how long it took for anyone to complain.
Linking to this blog, he says,
I’m not a great fan of empires – we would have done far better to have carried on with our unofficial protectorates and trading outposts than to assume responsibility for large tracts of land – but there is little doubt that, as empires go, ours was relatively benign. Niall Ferguson makes the obvious but rarely remarked point that, for most of the countries under British dominion, the alternative was not unmolested evolution towards modernity, but conquest by someone else: France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Japan or – worst of all – Belgium.
Yes, that’s the same Niall Ferguson who teaches what he and Carswell describe as “proper history”. Are protectorates any less wrong that colonies? Not really, but this piece of lazy thinking implies that “if we hadn’t have colonized them, some other power would have done so and the situation would have been much worse”. Belgium, as he rightly points out, was one of the worst colonizers. King Leopold II treated the Congo as his own personal property and subjected the natives to horrific and barbaric treatment. But the Congo was called a “Free State”, that is to say, a country where the normal rule of law and civil and human rights are suspended in order to pursue a tidy profit. It is an idea that gets most Randists moist. This site promotes the idea of a free state. But it’s a vision that exists outside of history and reality. The BBC reports on the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Nigeria and tells us that other African countires are following suit. Is this another Scramble for Africa? Recently the government announced its intention to create so-called Enterprise Zones. Guess what that means for workers? The only people who get excited about these zones are parasites.
Ironically, the MP who brought the Hola Camp abuses to the attention of the Commons was the mercurial Enoch Powell, who would later go on to deliver his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech. Powell was a fervent free-marketeer and like those who give unquestioning devotion to the classical liberal model, he promoted that idea in isolation from the historical facts. This blog is, as much as anything else, an effort to rehabilitate the reputation of Powell by constructing a new, kinder memory of him outside of the materialism of history. Thatcher appropriated the memory of Churchill and isolated his wartime premiership from the rest of his inglorious past. It was a mistake and it came back to haunt her.
On to today’s blog and Hannan claims that the money that this country (sic) has given to the Portuguese bailout could have been spent on
254,150 nurses (there are around 390,000 nurses in the NHS)
114,109 NHS doctors (more than the actual total of 110,000)
180,575 police constables (there are 170,000 police officers in the UK)
194,553 teachers (out of 450,000)
246,856 Army privates (as against 106,550 actual regulars, of all ranks)
What’s so ironic about his figures for doctors and nurses is that, not so long ago, he appeared on Fox News to tell the American people that the “NHS was a 60 year old mistake”.
This blog is a mix of anti-EU sensationalism and snide attacks on his political enemies.
He takes a cheap swipe at the March of the Alternative
So where is the “March for the Alternative”? Where are all the students, Socialist Workers and trade union activists who thronged through London just a couple of weeks ago?
At the end he adds this,
So where is the TUC? Where is UK Uncut? Where are all those who asserted last month that a much smaller sum meant the end of social security in Britain? Are they missing something? Or am I?
There are none so deaf as those that refuse to hear, Dan. Tell you what, if you’re so fired up about the bailout, why don’t you organize your own march? There’s nothing stopping you. Or maybe the Rally Against Debt, which has so far attracted little support and that he supported on his blog, is more his thing? I understand, that like Hon Tobes, he’s chickened out of appearing at the rally. The fact of the matter is that the bailout of Portugal is part of a series of mistakes made by countries who adopted the neoliberal economic model in an attempt to play with the big boys of the G20 nations. This is the same economic model that was forced onto this country by the Thatcher government in the 1980’s.
Naturally, such facts are always met with silence. I wonder why?