Peter Hoskin

Dan Hannan and Enoch Powell: make your own mind up

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Here's footage of Dan Hannan's month-old US interview in which he cites Enoch Powell as an influence, and which has received quite a bit of news attention today:

To my mind, there's little more to add to this than the points made by Spectator's very own Alex Massie and those made in two excellent posts (here and here) by Guido.  To wit: Hannan has always been clear that he doesn't endorse Powell's views on immigration, but has instead been influenced by his views on the size, scope and role of the state.  Whatever you may think of those views, they are hardly controversial.  Indeed, as Guido points out (via Mark Reckons), Tony Blair himself praised Powell as "one of the great figures of 20th-century British politics".

But, predictably, Mandelson & Co. have used the opportunity to say that the "Tory mask" is slipping; to imply that behind Cameron there are a bunch of NHS-hating, racist nutjobs.  Sure, that's something that the Tory leadership could have done without - but I doubt they'll be all that concerned.  After all, when Labour pushed the same line during the NHS row, it hardly did much for their standing in the polls.  And, as I suggested earlier, all the Tories need do is rekindle memories of Smeargate to create a "behind the mask" attack of their own.