Will Blair run?

The battle lines over the future of the UK in Europe are been drawn up around Tony Blair’s so far shadow candidacy for the post of President of the Council under the Lisbon treaty. Gordon Brown has set aside the old personal rivalry to launch a campaign for him, if Blair says the word. Brown’s main reason surely, is less a new found love of Tony than a chance to exploit Cameron’s hopeless muddle over Britain’s place in Europe and to present Labour to its EU partners and its own voters as the pragmatic party of Europe. If Blair loses, Brown can blame Cameron for failing unpatriotically to back a fellow Brit ( and one supported by the Irish incidentally). The politics of the new presidency all are wildly complicated and far from a shoo-in for Blair, as the Irish Times points out. Is it conceivable that Sarkozy, Merkel et al would back Blair in direct defiance of Cameron’s wishes, assuming he wins power next summer – a few months into the new reformed presidency? Perhaps, if they feel that the Conservatives are placing themselves beyond the European pale, but this is hardly the way to nudge them back into the fold. It’s interesting to note how leading Eurosceptic and Europhil papers are split between their political reporting and comment in the issue. The Guardian reports the pressure building on Blair to announce his candidacy, backed by Brown’s key staff, while George Monbiot in Comment is Free hysterically damns the former PM as a mass murderer and liar over Iraq. After highlighting Cameron’s opposition to an “ all singing, all dancing” Presidente Blair, the generally anti –EU Telegraph carries columnist Mary Riddell, ( no card carrying Tory and appealing to a wider readership) supporting Blair as the best hope of transforming Europe, while Andrew Pierce leads a mildly favourable discussion on Blair’s possible role. What’s going on in the Torygraph? Is the prospect of a Briton becoming top European dog ” able to stop the traffic”, of greater reader appeal that old-school Tory little Englandism?” Meanwhile the excellent Euractiv network, reporting the wider debate beyond the parochial British focus, says many States are looking for weakish council president coming maybe from the centre right, to avoid confusion with the re-elected commission president Barosso, and weaker than the proposed new foreign high representative, who might come from the centre left (Miliband, currently Blair’s cheerleader for the top job?). I told you it was complicated.

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  • fin

    sorry Brian, just spotted your link to the same piece at the 2nd reading, whoops

    Although such a good bit of writing deserves 2 links

  • On becoming prime minister in 1997, Blair said one of his main priorities would be to return the UK to the heart of Europe. Far from carrying out this promise, which was then supported by a majority of the British people, he parked the United Kingdom on Capital Hill, Washington DC. In the process he encouraged the most reactionary US president in decades to view the UK as his very own plaything.

    Blair refused to opt the UK into the Schengen agreement which governs Europe’s borders and frontiers and defiantly kept Britain out of the Eurozone against sound economic advice. The consequences of both of these decisions today should be obvious to all, with the fascist BNP having received over 300,000 votes at the last EU elections; and unlike the UK, the main EU nations are out of recession, with the value of the Euro now almost equal to the Pound, the latter having lost a third of its value.

    More here,


  • Dave

    It would be a nice democratic irony that just when the British public eject New Labour from power, the EU imposes its chief henceman upon the British public as their new president. If nothing else, it will make the British public more aware about what it means to be post-democratic.

  • DC

    Well im backing Blair for US President.

  • Wilde Rover

    Brian Walker,

    “while George Monbiot in Comment is Free hysterically damns the former PM as a mass murderer and liar over Iraq.”

    It would seem that you are suggesting that anyone who thinks Tony Blair is a mass murderer and a liar either lacks normal mental clarity or sound judgment or, more seriously, suffers from a psychoneurotic disorder.

    Jean Marie Le Pen questioned the judgment of those who believed in the holocaust by referring to it as a “detail of history.”

    Stalin labeled anyone who was critical of his genocidal regime as insane.