British xenophobia over top EU posts

While it’s great crack if you’re an anorak, the frantic speculation about the top Euro jobs doesn’t show off my old colleagues in the Westminster lobby at their best. Some are helping to keep Tony Blair’s candidacy for the presidency alive, others are floating David Miliband as “ foreign minister” while the Indy in Sunday thinks it sees a dark plot in it all to make Mandy the Labour leader. It’s all so parochial . At times, it even touches racism. Take Ian Hislop on Have I Got News For You, who publishes samizdat material and more doubtful goss in Private Eye. He scorned Blair, fine, but then got down to mocking rival candidates just for their funny foreign names, like “Jean Claude.” Candidates like..

Wolfgang Schlüssel, the centre-right former Austrian chancellor, might be gaining ground, while Balkenende was also being talked up by EU sources. Other names still in the race are Luxembourg’s prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, and former Belgian leader Guy Verhofstadt.

That sort of stuff had gone out with the Ark I thought. So no Tony and nobody else either. That’s not satire. it’s nihilism. And what’s with all this stuff about the whole system being completely unaccountable? Would you really want to have to chose between, say, Junkcer and Verhofstadt?. The heads of government who take the decisions are pretty well immune from British media pressure – and that’s hacking off Her Majesty’s press, I’m sorry to say, so they lash out. At least those same leaders are democratically accountable, which means the presidency is too, at least indirectly. We can expect accountability to improve over time, if the Conservatives and the other few diehards permit. From now on at least, let’s not hark back to the old British chauvinism of the “ fog in Channel; continent cut off” variety.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London