Review – A Doomed Marriage by Daniel Hannan

17 October 2012

9:23 AM

17 October 2012

9:23 AM

When Dan Hannan’s book, A Doomed Marriage: Britain and Europe, arrived through the post I was alarmed to see that it was shrink wrapped in the same way as top shelf pornographic material.

For those of you Europhiles who rather warm to the idea of a federal Europe and look forward to the day when we join the Single Currency, this will not be a happy read. But if you are of the Amish wing of the Conservative Party (or even a Kipper), convinced that it won’t be too long before the clank of jackboots will be heard on the Mall and that her Majesty will be evicted from Buckingham Palace and replaced by a fat sweating Belgian, then this is not just a book of biblical importance, it will be a masturbatory aid.

Despite over the top prose such as:

‘It’s not just the euro crisis; it’s the whole rotten scheme. It will no longer do to think of the EU as a fine idea that has been botched in its implementation. Its very basis, the merger of different nationalities within a single political system is flawed’

I found this rather a disappointing book. I had hoped for a cogently argued blueprint of how it would be in British interests to withdraw, and how to plan for that. Instead we are treated to some pretty duff analysis and debating society angst. I really don’t think that it helps the Eurosceptic cause to come out with such lines as:

‘What sets the EU aside is its discrepancy between its version of the truth and everyone else’s. Warsaw Pact dissidents used to call it “the gap between what is said and what is.”’ 


‘On closer inspection it turns out that the entire European proposition rests on empty slogans……in the name of Europe , Eurocrats have undone the secret of Europe’s success: the diversity, variety and pluralism that raised their continent to greatness.’


So the French, the Germans and the Greeks (not to mention we Brits) have been subsumed into a monochrome of Warsaw Pact uniformity, have we? This really is an affront to common sense; but not quite as daft as the Hannan argument that small states are far more desirable economically. His proof is the bizarre league table of GDP per capita. Top of the list is Liechtenstein, Quatar, Luxembourg and Bermuda. The USA, (a federal structure for heaven’s sake!) comes in at number twelve. I’m afraid it’s all a bit saloon bar at the Dog and Duck.

To show the true wickedness of the Euro conspiracy he prays in aid the outrageous statement of EU President, Herman Van Rompuy:

‘We have together to fight the danger of a new Euroscepticism. The biggest enemy of Europe today is fear. Fear leads to egoism, egoism leads to nationalism and nationalism leads to war.’

And the words of that demon incarnate, Angela Merkel:

‘Nobody should believe that another half century of peace in Europe is given, it’s not. So I say again if the Euro collapses, Europe collapses. That can’t happen.’

I am not a Europhile, but both statements seem a sensible analysis of political and economic reality rather than proof of some sinister plot.

And then there are the toe curling, sphincter tightening howlers.

‘It is true, of course, that both Papandreou and Berlusconi  were already unpopular for domestic reasons, just as Margaret Thatcher had been when EU leaders and Conservative Euro enthusiasts brought her down in November 1990.’

Dan, old son, I was there. The reason she went was nothing to do with some conspiracy of Europhiles in league the Brussels bureaucrats, after all she unmercifully whipped through the Single European Act. Thatcher went because she had become totally unelectable.

This is the downside of books written by obsessives: the daft points devalue the good ones. And, to be fair, Hannan makes some perfectly sensible criticisms of the zeal for political and economic unity which dominates the Commission and clouds their judgement. I just wish that someone as clearly intelligent and articulate as Dan Hannan could make a more coherent case.

I did manage one belly laugh. The book was designed in Berlin and printed and bound in Memmingen. Maybe there is some ghastly Brussels dictat forbidding MEPs from publishing their books in their own country.

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Show comments
  • Perry de Havilland

    Folks like Jerry Hayes are why a great many of those 4 million people voted UKIP: sheer loathing of his sneering ilk.

  • rndtechnologies786

    Good thought.

  • valedictorian16

    This review just makes me want to rush out and buy the book in question. I’ll see for myself what he has to say thankyou, sans the jaded translation.

  • James Harvard

    As others have pointed out, with one final attempted dig the reviewer lays bare his prejudice and wholesale misunderstanding of the anti-EU case. What was that about ‘daft points’, Jerry?

  • Dancinginthemoonlight

    Pretty much a spot on review!

  • Austin Barry

    “I was alarmed to see that it was shrink wrapped in the same way as top shelf pornographic material” and ” this is not just a book of biblical importance, it will be a masturbatory aid.”

    I’m sorry, Jerry, but this just suggests that you a vigorous Onanist. A proposition with which we can all agree.

  • chudsmania

    ‘I did manage one belly laugh. The book was designed in Berlin and
    printed and bound in Memmingen. Maybe there is some ghastly Brussels
    dictat forbidding MEPs from publishing their books in their own country’…..Heres why you are such a pillock Hayes…..Hannon loves Europe , advocates trade etc , and he could have this designed or printed in any country in the world…..Its called choice , and we dont need the EU for that very reason.

  • chudsmania

    Journalism at its very worst from Hayes . Hannan has more intelligence in his little finger than your have in your whole body . In fact , give up and try doing something on x-factor , your bound to do better than your present job .

  • terence patrick hewett

    A cut and paste review: thank God for the Irish who still retain the ability to turn a word or three.

  • ScaryBiscuits

    I thought a book review was supposed to tell one whether a book was worth buying or even reading?

    All this review tells me is about the reviewer, rather than the book; that he is an old-fashioned, out-of-touch Tory who thinks that Eurosceptics are w***ers. With that off his chest, he doesn’t feel the need to counter any of Hannan’s ‘duff analysis’ with facts, just more lazy abuse: ‘saloon bar’, ‘outrageous’, ‘daft’ etc.
    Also, just because he ‘was there’ when Mrs Thatcher was removed, it doesn’t make his version of those events true. There was most certainly interference in the UK’s political process from Brussels, as there has been more recently in Italy. The idea that Mrs Thatcher (who had won three elections) had to be removed because she was ‘unelectable’ whereas John Major was allowed to carry on to the bitter end really is incoherent – and typical of Jerry Hayes’s wing of the Conservative Party, which never understood why she kept winning and detested her populism. MPs like him deservedly lost their seats in 1997 and their successors, having denied themselves an easy win in 2010, are doing everything they can to lose in 2015 too.

  • Garyessex

    A review by Jerry Hayes – a man who clearly requires no masturbatory aids.

  • Andrew Campbell

    It says a lot about the reviewer that he thinks it funny that the book was designed and published abroad. Eurosceptics like Hannan are often praising the good that comes out of Europe the continent including how Britain can do business there. The problem comes when sovereignty is taken away as is the case with countries in the EU.

    • Philip Whittington

      Quite. A union of links, not chains.

    • TheBollingFrog

      Sovereignty wasn’t taken away, it was given away – mostly by the Tories. You’re right about where the book is printed…the reviewer could have saved everyone’s time and just wrote ‘I think Hannan is a Little Englander’ That is essentially what he meant.

  • Doppel1800

    What more can I say about a piece which includes a reference to “a masturbatory aid” in the second paragraph and “mange” in the final paragraph.

  • leeleegtm

    I think you misrepresent him here – he argues that competition in taxation, regulation etc leads to greater prosperity because there is a pressure to reduce both. Homogenisation has lead to a reduction in prosperity and competitiveness in EU; surely you cannot argue with that? OECD has constantly repeated this point. Also, I’m not sure three phrases from his book seriously undermines the entire thing, as you suggest.

  • TheBoyPhelan

    This is the downside of reviews written by Jerry Hayes; they’re bobbins

  • LordBlagger

    Look at the Renaisance. Why did Italy take off? It was competing city states.

    So why do we have problems in the UK?

    Well, its down to something other than Europe. It’s down to government debt and government fraud. Governments have taken the cash off people for their pensions. In the UK you’re paying 20p in the pound back as pensions (no compound interest, and you’ve redistributed it to other people). Even that 20p is now unaffordable.

    So the UK government aim is to screw people. Hide the debt. Don’t mention it. Don’t report it. Then make sure people keep contributing. Hmmm. False accounting inducing people to contribute? Section 2 of the 2006 fraud act. No doubt politicians will make sure that they are excluded from that. Just the same as the reason they’ve excluded themselves from money laundering regulations. I wonder how Keith Vaz voted on that bill.

    You’ve missed the point. It isn’t the EU that’s the biggest problem by orders of magnitude. It’s Westminster.