Tuesday 22 December 2009

A question to Daniel Hannan

Daniel Hannan can stake a very good claim to be the right-wing blogosphere's voice of 2009. That is why we here at Next Left have been more committed than many to taking Hannanism seriously.

Hannan's great cause is that Britain should leave the EU. I disagree. But his is an honest position, which I think much more coherent than what seems to be the "hokey-cokey, in, out or somewhere in between" position of fiercely Eurosceptic Conservatives who say that they want to stay in the post-Lisbon EU while somehow "fundamentally" renegotiating Britain's membership status within it.

Yet Hannan's new list of ten reasons to leave the EU on his Telegraph blog remind me of one issue which I don't think he has ever cleared up.

One of the ten reasons is the case for "offshore Britain".

9. Outside the EU, Britain could be a deregulated, competitive, offshore haven.

That does sound almost identical to his earlier advocacy of the Icelandic economic miracle as a model for Britain.

Being outside the EU, Iceland has been able to cut taxes and regulation, and to open up its economy. For 70 years the Althing has been dominated by the splendidly named Independence party, which has pursued the kind of Thatcherite agenda that is off limits to EU members ... Icelanders understand that there is a connection between living in an independent state and living independently from the state. They have no more desire to submit to international than to national regulation. That attitude has made them the happiest, freest and wealthiest people on earth.

But that was a few years ago.

"When the facts change, I change my mind" said Keynes, "What do you do?"

But are Hannanites less ideologically flexible than Keynesians?

So here's the question to Daniel:

Did the collapse of Iceland's economy lead you to change your mind in any important way?

Or will his argument turn out to be that even Iceland's collapse was due not to too little regulation, not too much?

Over to you Dan: did the 2008 crisis change anything at all in the Hannanite worldview?

1 comment:

Anthony Z said...

There is a wider point that there is a logical leap from "leaving the EU" to "massive deregulation". I know Hannan wouldn't personally want Health & Safety regulation, farming subsidies or product labelling requirements to exist. Does he really think (even aside from the requirement to meet EU law to sell into EU markets) that a UK Parliament would think the same? If you look at Norway (stratospheric farming subsidies) or Japan (ditto, plus stiflingly bureaucratic regulation) it's hard to find many counterexamples.