30 October 2009

Blair: Sanity prevailing?

Some good news in the news this morning - there's just a chance that Tony Blair's star is on the wane as far as Europe is concerned. A lack of support from European socialist leaders is undermining his chances. Not surprising when you consider that Blair is about as obviously a centre-right politician as you're going to get (and further to the right on many issues, like foreign policy, where he is a Bushite neo-conservative). Is that really going to be attractive to anyone on the left? I don't think so.

Significantly, the few leaders who have spoken out in support of Blair are centre-right leaders like France's Nicholas Sarkozy, Germany's Angela Merkel, and the UK's Gordon Brown. Left-wingers like Austria's Werner Fayman and Spain's Jose Luis Zapatero have criticised Blair for being too close to Bush. In any case, the centre-left in Europe is not what it once was; despite a big success in Greece recently, they did not do well in the Euro elections in June and they lost badly in Germany last month. So it may be that the left does a deal with the right whereby the left gets the EU foreign minister position whereas the right gets to pick the president.

The irony is, of course, that Blair could be the ideal centre-right candidate. But I don't think the European right would trust him enough.

It's a pity this whole argument isn't taking place next year - at which point (presumably) Gordon Brown would be eligible for the job. While Brown is not that much better than Blair in terms of political pedigree, he is some slight improvement with regard to most issues - and it would be hilarious for a UK Tory government to have to watch Gordon Brown in that position in Europe. It might even lead to Britain leaving the EU - which in some ways might be a good thing. Tony Blair as EU president might have a similar result, but we can't submit hundreds of millions of EU citizens to leadership by a war criminal just because it makes Dave Cameron's life difficult. That's not fair.


red two said...

I read something in The Week suggesting that the Foreign Minister position was probably going to be more powerful than that of the president. Any thoughts on this?

Magnificent as The Week is in pulling together the disparate strands of debate across the media in a digestible format, it does sometimes leave you wanting more... quite WHY the position was deemed more powerful wasn't explained. David Milliband's name was mentioned...

giroscoper said...

That's an interesting theory from The Week... I think this stuff is all very much up for grabs. The EU hasn't really worked out what the President, Foreign Minister are supposed to do yet. Having said that, history offers some important lessons. When the US was originally set up in 1776 the President was meant to be a largely ceremonial office... and look what happened.