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Tuesday, October 27, 2009 

The real reason for the Blair presidency.

We've heard a lot recently about self-inflicted harm and acts of suicide, mainly in connection with the Royal Mail, yet much the same could be said about the curious, perplexing campaign springing up for Tony Blair to be the first permanent president of the European Council. The power and prestige of the post is probably being exaggerated, as Nosemonkey argues, yet it's apparent it's not so much the job and the work involved but the title and impression which the person whom lands it will send.

The first, resounding and most bamboozling question which it raises is just what damaging, horrendous and career ending secret information Blair has on Gordon Brown. Despite everything we've been told about Brown's ever deteriorating relationship with Blair, he is still apparently "lobbying discreetly" for Blair to get the job. At times Brown and Blair apparently didn't talk; at the lowest point, when Brown felt that Blair had reneged again on his promise to hand over the reins, he told him that he would never believe a word he said again. A smart principle perhaps when dealing with someone as notoriously slippery as the "pretty straight kind of guy", but not one which is conducive to running a government. Why, after everything, would Brown now still think that he'd be the best man for the job? While Brown has always preferred the United States to Europe, even if unlike Blair it hasn't loved him back, he has never given the impression of wanting the EU to actively fail or to sabotage it from within. Perhaps Brown is envious at how, again despite everything, Blair has so successfully turned his hand from leader into money-maker, something which you doubt Brown when he exits Downing Street will emulate. Helping him get the job of EU president will for two and a half years at least severely undermine his earning power, even if when you're earning £12 million a year you can easily afford to take a couple of years "off". We're left with wondering just what this information Blair must have is. How terrible could it be that you have to support someone for a job who you so actively loathe?

Just as mysterious but for the opposite reason is the Conservative opposition to Blair gaining the post. Cameron and friends are still supposedly hoping that the Czech president will find a way to delay signing the Lisbon treaty, its last hurdle now that Ireland's voters were persuaded to change their mind and Poland's ratification, leaving them enough time to come to power and hold a referendum. Not because Cameron himself is viscerally Eurosceptic, but mainly become the Tory base and Rupert Murdoch demand it. Far more likely though is that the Czech president stops procrastinating and that Lisbon comes into effect long before the Tories get their shot at power, and that the other Tory promise to "not let matters rest" turns out to be as much froth as many of the other plans. How better then to undermine an organisation and institution you regard as bad for the country than by ensuring that someone as unpopular in this country and controversial elsewhere as Blair becomes its figurehead? Strangely then, despite joking about how bad it would make Brown look, William Hague supposedly would only allow Blair to become president over "his dead body". Cameron now thinks much the same, although he opposes the EU having a president, and that if it did, it should be someone who can chair meetings rather than grandstand on a global stage. This doesn't seem to be based on personal dislike for Blair: after all, Cameron was the person who made his front bench raise in applause for Blair has he left and who has actively based his entire persona on the great man. Could it be that, despite the Heresiarch's mocking, Cameron genuinely does fear being upstaged by Blair, or rather that he is much more afraid of a Europe which he would be far more inclined to agree with than would otherwise be the case? Then there's the Rupert Murdoch factor again: Blair as EU president might be someone who Murdoch would be far less likely to ceaselessly attack. Would a Blair presidency help somewhat with a reconciliation, something Cameron would most certainly not want to happen?

Strangest of all though is the apparent support of those who genuinely do believe in the European Union. The Guardian is concerned only by the fact that Tony Blair might be a war criminal; otherwise he would be the most obvious and easily the most qualified candidate. The European Union has never exactly been the most democratic of institutions, and the decision on who will become the president is certainly not with the European electorate as a whole but instead with the European council's 27 members, yet you thought even they might have seen the downsides of Blair becoming president. There are after all not many convicted criminals or potential criminals in charge of democratic nations, Italy being a notable exception, but even Mr Berlusconi, despite his involvement with the Iraq war, is only likely to be a small player in any eventual prosecution of both Bush and Blair for their role in a war of aggression, the "supreme international crime". Electing as your global representative someone who has never shown a moment's regret or pause and who declares that only God can be his judge is a difficult proposition to get your head round. David Miliband's argument was that Europe needs someone who can stop traffic in global capitals, although he probably didn't mean that those stopping the traffic would be the police in order to try to arrest him. Bush after all never showed any inclination to travel, which is probably just as well, and Blair, although he has been globe-trotting, is probably still wary of nations which could attempt to have him charged with some sort of offence. He probably couldn't get anywhere much safer than Israel, as the current representative of the Quartet, which must suit him down to the ground.

In fact, I think I might have alighted on the real reason why Sarkozy and Merkel think Blair might be the right man for the job. Nothing would seem more calculated to further ostracise the EU from this country, where probably the only person equally as unpopular as Blair is Brown himself. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Piss off Brown even if he's lobbying for it, as it must piss him off, and help start the formal exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, as the nation's real leader, that man RM again, has long wanted. What could possibly go wrong?

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Europe is SO over if they give that man the job.

Whenever Guardian editorials criticise the Iraq invasion - I can't help thinking it's a bit late http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/feb/06/foreignpolicy.usa

"It is not credible to argue, as Iraq did in its initial reaction to Mr Powell, that it is simply all lies"

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