The basic philosophical problem with the otherwise impressive Daniel Hannan, is that he has no discernible reverence for ancient Christian monarchy and reserves his greatest jubilation for history's triumphs over kings.
There are four places in the world which I never visit without a sense of reverence, almost of pilgrimage. Three are in Britain: Stratford, where the greatest mind produced by our species was shaped; Runnymede, where the idea that governments should be answerable to their peoples was encoded; and Naseby, where the victory of constitutional parliamentary authority was secured. The fourth is the old courthouse in Philadelphia where the US Declaration of Independence was signed and where, later, the Constitution was drafted.To be sure there's much to like here, but while we all love Shakespeare, we shouldn't be surprised if Hannan's favourite tragic play is MacBeth's regicide of King Duncan. All Whig and no Tory, Roundhead values with no Cavalier tastes. So foul and fair a day I have not seen.
The problem with this milquetoast monarchist is that all his heroes are republican, from John Milton to Thomas Jefferson. Yes he looks up to Burke, but probably only the most Whiggish aspects of the man. Aren't the truly great men in history those who managed to fuse their classical liberalism with traditional conservative values - liberal conservative thinkers and principled floor crossers like Burke, Churchill, Russell Kirk and Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn?
I mean, what prospect of future progress is there in championing the one-dimensional fact that people wrestled away power from their kings long ago? Yes they did, and yes it was good up to a point, but what, pray, has been happening over the last hundred years or so? Are we okay with the fact that government of the people has grown from taking 10% of our earnings to more than 50% today? Do we really enjoy greater liberty today than we did under the influence of the king's men? Is there any real prospect of ever wrestling power away from politicians and putting it back in the hands of the individual where it belongs? No, not under the current system, the spoils of government are just too enticing for ambition to ignore, politicians prefer the corruption of Walpole over the patriotism of Bolingbroke.
My issue with Daniel Hannan is that while he rails splendidly against the former, he is at best a limp, halfhearted and perfunctory torch-bearer for the latter.