Tag Archives: David Baddiel

Daniel Hannan on Norris McWhirter, Supporter of Fascism

Some time ago, I wrote a blog on Daniel Hannan’s defence of Norris McWhirter after he and his beloved Freedom Association got into a lather about David Baddiel’s off the cuff remarks about the former being no better than a brownshirt. Beastrabban’s article is much more in depth about McWhirter’s passions, shall we say, than mine. McWhirter subscribed to the League of Empire Loyalists’ journal “Candour” (sit back and think about that title for a moment). The LEL gave birth to the National Front and similar parties.

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McWhirter

Norris McWhirter, Founder of the Freedom Association and probable supporter of the anti-Semitic and racist League of Empire Loyalists

The extreme Right-wing Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, amongst his other attacks on the Left and the NHS, criticised the comedian David Baddiel for his film criticising Norris McWhirter in his online Telegraph column. Baddiel had made the terrible offence of comparing the Freedom Association, which McWhirter founded, to the BNP. Guy Debord’s Cat has also posted a detailed critique of Hannan’s comments, ‘Hannan: McWhirter is a Decent Man (Because I Say So)’ at https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/hannan-mcwhirter-was-a-decent-man-because-i-say-so/.

In fact Baddiel’s comment about the Freedom Association being similar to the BNP has more than a little truth in the context of McWhirter’s extreme Right-wing political views. There is evidence that McWhirter was a member of the League of Empire Loyalists, a Fascist, anti-Semitic organisation that formed the National Front along with the BNP, the Greater…

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Hannan: McWhirter was a decent man (because I say so)

He who has the biggest wallet can afford free speech. Conversely, he who has the biggest wallet can silence those whose speech appears to cause them offence. The slight may be imagined. Indeed the slight may be exaggerated in order to hijack or control discourse. I expect some of the offended parties to talk about filing a lawsuit in the coming weeks.

And so it is with those right-wingers who have recently been offended by David Baddiel’s remarks about Norris McWhirter. Desperate Dan whines and moans that the BBC didn’t sack Baddiel for daring to compare The Freedom Association to the BNP. He says,

Still, can you imagine BBC comedians making equivalent remarks about a Left-of-Centre campaigner: Helena Kennedy, say, or Shami Chakrabati? Silly question, really.

He doesn’t ask the important question: why? Instead he sounds like a 6 year old child who’s just been told that he can’t watch cartoons because he has to do his homework. Life’s so tough. The thing is, neither of the people he mentions are anywhere near as vile or racist as McWhirter whose TFA was more than happy to support apartheid-era South Africa as well as Rhodesia. In fact, Kennedy and Chakrabarti have done more for ordinary people in this country than the McWhirter brothers ever managed in a lifetime.

A fundamentally decent man, a man who had served his country in the war against Nazism and had been awarded the CBE, was traduced on air, linked to Mosley and compared to the BNP.

“Fundamentally decent”?  Why? Because you say so? Don’t make me laugh.

His comment to one of his fans is quite amusing too,

The whole premise of the film is facile. The young David Baddiel goes to a talk at his public school (usual Leftie angst about public school, I was on a special scheme for the poor etc) expecting Norris to talk about the Guinness Book of Records. Instead Norris talks about politics and – angels and ministers of grace defend us – the man is RIGHT-WING.

Here is a dilemma for the teenage David. Someone he had admired turns out to disagree with him. But rather than consider why this admirable person might think differently, rather than allow the possibility that there might be two sides to an argument, he recoils in horror. Instead of thinking “If an impressive man like Norris is conservative, maybe there are some good conservatives”, he says “If an impressive man like Norris is a conservative, he can’t be as impressive as I had thought”.

As I’ve blogged before, what is striking about this attitude, which has become the default assumption among many on the Left, is not its narrow-mindedness or its stupidity, but it’s sheer narcissism. It redefines evil as “someone who disagrees WITH ME!”

So where did Baddiel describe anyone as “evil”? This trope that Hannan regurgitates is worth looking at closer. Here Hannan assumes that “many of the Left”  think that anyone who has a different point of view is ‘evil’.  It is so simplistic and barely takes a nano-second of thought. He has so far failed to provide any salient examples for his bizarre contention. We could read this comment in the same way as those comments and articles that are produced by the American right on the ‘left’: they are entirely constructed from tropes and myths. The left is “dangerous” or the left is “narrow-minded” (Dan evidently overlooks the narrow mindedness among his fellow Tories). The most popular trope is “liberal elites”, which always seems to trip off the tongue of an elitist. What Danny Boy seems to be missing is the fact that McWhirter’s appearance at Baddiel’s school confused him. McWhirter on Record Breakers was clearly a different person (almost avuncular) to the one that ran TFA. Of course, I knew the first time that I saw the McWhirter brothers there was something deeply disturbing about them. Patrick Moore too.

I’m not a fan of Baddiel. He was a part of that BritCom, BritPop, BritArt crap that was the zeitgeist of the mid-1990s. Strictly speaking, his remarks should be viewed within the context of the programme on which he appeared. Besides, Jeremy Clarkson gets away with a hell of a lot more.

If McWhirter had visited my school, I would have doubtless reached the same conclusion as Baddiel.

UPDATE:  6/3/11 @ 2342

Added additional paragraph about Baddiel and BritCom etc.

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Hannan’s cosy take on the Freedom Association

McWhirter

Norris McWhirter: the world was so much better in black and white

David Baddiel has put Dan Hannan’s nose out of joint by announcing on a programme on BBC Radio 5 that The Freedom Association (Dan is a member of the council, though he doesn’t mention this in his blog) is kind of “sub-BNP”. Our Dan isn’t happy. He says,

If I complained about every instance of BBC Leftism, I’d never blog anything else. Although the Beeb has tried to address the overt partisanship in its news department, many of its drama, comedy and consumer affairs programmes remain as jejune as ever. (All Rightists are evil, every Tory is one step away from Hitler, won’t it be hilarious when Thatcher dies etc.)

Hmmm, he clearly hasn’t paid much attention to the BBC’s news output since the Tory-led government took power. The BBC has practically bent over backwards to please the government. Its coverage of anything that occurs outside the faux left-right axis of Parliamentary politics has been woeful. That aside, Hannan’s take on both The Freedom Association and the McWhirter brothers is informed wholly by his membership of the organisation. You could say, that in a Bourdieusian sense at least, that he’s brought both his political and cultural capital to bear on this blog. Let’s read on,

Norris, whom I got to know as a teenager, was a kind, generous and modest man: a man of real and deep friendships, who had the gift of kindling enthusiasm in others.

Good for you. Presumably this happened while you were at Marlborough or did he pop out to Peru to hang out on your parent’s ranch? He continues,

This shouldn’t need saying, but since Mr Davies is throwing Mosleyite slanders around (they were, incidentally, blackshirts, not brownshirts), it’s worth recording that Norris played his part in the war against Hitler, serving in the Royal Navy. He was, above all, a lover of freedom: he could see that the corporatist Heath-Wilson state was deleterious to personal liberty as well as to economic prosperity. Nowadays, most of us can see that, but in the 1970s his was a brave and lonely voice.

What Dan overlooks from the lofty height of his ivory tower is that The Freedom Association is a very right-wing organisation that supported the apartheid regime in South Africa which it described as a “free country” that was part of the “free world” (sic). TFA also supported the English cricket tour of  South Africa in the early 1980’s. TFA’s reason for doing this had nothing at all to do with freedom, it was an expression of solidarity with a vile right wing regime whose idea of freedom was relative to a person’s skin colour. It can therefore be argued that Hendrik Verwoed loved freedom too.

Dan provides us with a link to Thomas Cranmer’s (not the very dead archbishop) website. Cranmer says,

But during the Radio 5 interview is an appalling misrepresentation by Baddiel of The Freedom Association, which Norris established in 1975 with his twin brother Ross and Viscount De L’Isle. The Association is at the forefront of campaigning in defence of personal and political freedom.

The TFA do what? That’s funny, I thought they actively supported regimes that offered no personal or political freedoms – especially if you’re poor or working class. Countries like Pinochet’s Chile were considered worthy of their support. That’s not just glaringly obvious hypocrisy, it’s a perversion of the English language. TFA does not stand for freedom  –  at least not the kind of freedom that is accessible to all.

Indeed, the TFA make every effort to stifle people’s freedoms. During the Grunwick dispute, TFA was involved in John Gouriet’s strike-breaking efforts (Gouriet was a founding member of TFA). TFA are against people’s right to join a trade union, which means that they are against free association…unless you happen to be a member of TFA or any other right wing group of course.

TFA was involved in the March for Free Expression in 2006. The subject of their ire wasn’t the fact that someone had accused the McWhirter brothers of being fascist (their political views were quite clearly very close to fascism) but the fact that they wanted to “express solidarity with the right-wing Danish paper Jyllands-Posten” over its decision to print racist and anti-Muslim cartoons.

One of the official sponsors of the “March for Free Expression” was the Freedom Association, whose campaign director Mark Wallace was a platform speaker at the Trafalgar Square rally. This organisation gained notoriety in the 1970s for its energetic defence of the “freedom” of Grunwicks to oppress and exploit its employees without interference from the trade unions. Equally energetically, it has defended the right of racists to promote hostility towards minority ethnic communities.

While I am not a fan of David Baddiel, he does have a perfectly valid point about TFA and the McWhirter brothers.  The only defence that Hannan can muster in support of McWhirter is,

…it’s worth recording that Norris played his part in the war against Hitler, serving in the Royal Navy.

That proves nothing. In fact, some of the most rabid fascists in this country “fought against Hitler”. Colin Jordan who founded the National Socialist Movement was in the army with the Royal Army Educational Corps during WWII. He ostensibly ‘fought against Hitler’.

Meanwhile on TFA’s website, they’re calling for Baddiel to be sued for slander. Seriously! I kid you not. So concerned are TFA with this notion of freedom of speech that they’re trying to silence someone from expressing their views. Over-sensitive to the point of the absurd and demonstrably against anything that doesn’t conform to their notion of freedom, TFA actively seeks to curb the freedoms of others. In their exhortation to their members they say,

TFA is built on core values of promoting individual freedoms and civil liberties for all, which is why we are so shocked that Baddiel chose to compare us to the British National Party (BNP). The views of the BNP are the ideological opposite to those of The Freedom Association.

TFA promotes ‘freedom’ – which is why it works to break strikes and smash unions. TFA are probably closer to the BNP than they realize (the BNP supported apartheid-era South Africa too). In fact, under the Nazis, trade unions were banned.  That’s a historical fact that has passed Hannan by and he’s got a degree from Oxford in…wait for it…history.  I suspect that the phrase “historical materialism” is one that never passes his lips.

While TFA claim to be advocates of freedom, the ultimate expression of their ideas would be an authoritarian state ruled by some caudillo who would look after the interests of capital, while suppressing dissent and enslaving those who literally cannot pay for their freedom.

This sudden jerky movement from TFA should only be seen one way: as an attempt to control discourse.

UPDATE: 22/1/11 @ 1044

This blog has been linked to a TFA blog about an article written by Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail. The article contains one noticeable factual error

He also suggested that his libertarian organisation, The Freedom Foundation, was akin to the BNP.

Letts is supposed to be a professional  journalist and here he is getting the name wrong! The Freedom Foundation is an alcohol and drug dependency charity. Duh.

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