This year’s House of Lords Dissolution Honours List has flagged up some issues of leaders of the Labour and Conservative Parties nominating people mired in controversy. Some have been concerned to hear that Daniel Hannan, the former Conservative MEP, is being honoured for his track record.
So let’s take a look at what he’s been up to:
Last year Hannan spoke at the National Conservatism conference, ‘Europe at a Crossroads: The Virtue of Nationalism’ in London. This same conference a year later (just last week) has been condemned by the Conservative Party as ‘not acceptable’ and that Daniel Kawczynski, the Conservative MP speaking at the event should ‘hold himself to higher standards,’ for which he has apologised for. Probably not the best start for Hannan’s track record.
The House of Lords Appointments Commission, in charge of advising the Prime Minister of any concerns about the propriety of a nominee for ennoblement, namely that they should be in ‘good standing in the community’ and they should not be regarded as ‘bringing the House of Lords into disrepute’, might want to take note.
Speaking at a conference frequented by numerous extreme figures – from US Fox News host Tucker Carlson, to far-right politicians Viktor Orban, Matteo Salvini and from Poland’s homophobic Law and Justice party, and Marion Marechal Le Pen, who is close to far-right street movement Generation Identitaire – doesn’t meet either of those categories. The National Conservatism Conference wasn’t a one-time event either.
Hannan chaired a panel at an environmental summit in Brussels last year which featured James Delingpole, a climate change denier and longstanding columnist at the far-right Breitbart News Network site.
Last year, Hannan also spoke at the Global Freedom Movements Conference in Los Angeles, organised by the California-based American Freedom Alliance, which is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Centre as an anti-Muslim group. The event featured British far-right activist Katie Hopkins (who gave a keynote speech), former UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe, Belgian politician and associate of Steve Bannon Mischael Modrikamen, Dominik Tarczynski of Law and Justice, Guy Milliere of the Tommy Robinson-supporting Gatestone Institute, key Austrian anti-Muslim activist Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Trevor Loudon, the Alternative fur Deutschland party’s spokesman on cultural affairs Marc Jognen, and Austrian Freedom Party MP Roman Haider. Hannan has been on good terms with the American Freedom Alliance since 2016, hosting them at a conference in Miami organised by his ‘Conservatives International’ group (an initiative he was asked to repay £484,360 in EU funds for in 2018).
Also speaking alongside Hannan at the Global Freedom Movements Conference was Thierry Baudet, leader of the Dutch far-right party Forum for Democracy. Hannan and Baudet do seem to enjoy each other’s company. Hannan spoke at Forum for Democracy events in 2016 and 2018, yet another showing at events of the far right. Baudet, who has spoken of the academics, journalists, artists and politicians who threaten his ‘boreal world,’ a euphemism for a white world, also met with the American white nationalist Jared Taylor in 2017, a white supremacist who believes the white race is threatened with extinction.
Daniel Hannan has made a career of meeting with and speaking at conferences alongside objectionable figures deemed ‘not acceptable’ by the current Conservative Party. It is a strange decision by the Prime Minister to offer him a life peerage. It is an alarming signal about where the Conservative party may be going under Boris Johnson.