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"Don't Go There": A Word of Warning from Britain

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“Don’t go there.”

That’s the message from British MEP Daniel Hannan, who was catapulted into fame after his widely-circulated YouTube video bashing Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s spending policies titled “The Devalued Prime Minister of a Devalued Government.” Hannan has been dusting off the passionate and catchy defense of free markets in that video to make a new case against the U.S. taking on one of England’s most defining characteristics: government run health care.

“I know politicians literally think they can make the weather on this,” he said. “But anyone who is in government who tells you that he can is someone you can’t vote for.”

Hannan’s case goes like this: once implemented, a government plan is almost irreversible, and almost inevitably continues to grow in size and cost; government health care is by definition a plan that must ration and decrease the quality of care; and the recent spat of town hall protests that have come about as the result of the Democrats' health care proposals are the perfect expression of liberty and freedom on which our country was founded.

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These aren’t new points. But the way he is able to make them is different, not only because of the fact that he has lived through many of the proposals the U.S. government is considering but also due to the manner in which he speaks.

“He does it with magnificent Brittanic flair of expression that makes even a commonplace statement seem profound. Not that his were commonplace, but it does elevate the level of discourse,” said Colin Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring, one of the sponsors of Hannan’s visit.

In a keynote address at the Army and Navy Club on Tuesday night, Hannan addressed the conservative crowd as a “fringe gathering of racist fruitcakes” – referencing the language used by critics to describe Republican town hall protesters. Such terms are virtually the same ones used to describe the founders of the original tea parties, he said.

In England, you’re “treated as a supplicant,” under the National Health System. Instead of demanding quality service in the health care field, “you’re expected to be grateful for everything you get.”

Hannan’s visit was planned, but the timing couldn’t have been better, according to Lori Roman, President of Regular Folks United, which was the primary sponsor of his visit. In addition to his Army and Navy Club address, Hannan taped a number of national radio and TV shows, and gave other presentations in Washington, D.C. and New York. All of them centered around the meaning of the town hall protests in terms of the health care debate and in terms of a larger quest for freedom.

“I feel grateful. I feel like he did a great service to our country this week. Through all the TV and radio he did, he reached a lot of people,” said Roman. “He doesn’t have any constituents here. It’s not like he is campaigning.”

According to Roman, he was able to strike the hearts of advocates who had heard the case against health care many times before. That’s because finding a foreigner who cares about the U.S. as much as he does is so rare.

“He was completely embraced by people everywhere he went. Physically, actively embraced, standing ovations everywhere he spoke,” she said.

In addition to his position as MEP, Hannan writes for Britian’s Daily Telegraph, making him a highly visible advocate for conservative principles across the pond. But his most public claim to fame is still his video that served the sharp verbal lashing to England’s highest office.

Hannan isn’t even clear as to why this particular video became a hit.

“I don’t know why this one took off so much, accept that its about the same length as a pop video which is maybe not a coincidence,” he said. “Under the roof of European parliament you typically get about two or three minutes, and plus [Brown] was there.”

His rise to stardom coincided with the rise in popularity of the original tea parties; both the tea parties and the popularity of his video probably played off each other. For now, though, Hannan is concentrating on the ideas, saying that active protests that center around real solutions are better than scathing criticism.

“When John Paul II was bringing down communism he didn’t want to attack the government of Poland or the Soviet Union,” said Hannan. “He just fought for something better instead.”

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