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If you thought it was all over...

Nick Robinson | 11:15 UK time, Thursday, 19 November 2009

No-one is ready to pronounce Tony Blair's presidential hopes dead but they are certainly reading the last rites for them.

Tony BlairSo, Britain looks set to get neither of the top two EU jobs created by the Lisbon Treaty. Gordon Brown's energies are now, some claim, focused on securing an important economic portfolio in the commission for a Brit instead.

It was not, I'm told, Iraq wot lost it for TB. It was first and foremost that he made many European leaders realise what they had potentially created and what they really didn't want - a European figurehead better known, better connected and more charismatic than they were.

So, tonight in Brussels they will haggle instead over which relatively anonymous figure - the Belgian or the Dutch prime minister or the former president of Latvia - should chair their summits four times a year.

Even less clear is who will get the foreign minister or, to be precise, the high representative's job now that David Miliband's turned it down.

Henry Kissinger once famously said he didn't know who to phone if he wanted to call Europe. By the end of this evening I'm not sure he - or his successor - will be any clearer.

PS. Diplomats say anything could happen tonight so complex are the competing interests that have to be reconciled. Perhaps Gordon Brown could even reconsider his rejection of the Spanish government's idea that he should be president. Then David Miliband - who Hillary Clinton described this week as "vibrant, vital, attractive, smart... really a good guy" - could take over as prime minister. Then...I should stop there. Brussels in my experience never produces anything quite that interesting.

Update 12:35: Blair's biographer, Anthony Seldon, argues in this month's Prospect magazine [full article is subscription only] that the former prime minister's rejection might rebound to his successor's benefit.

Seldon claims that Blair now has "an especially jaundiced view of the Conservatives' tribalism in not backing him" and says that the man the Tories have always feared is ready to help Labour campaign but "only if Brown asks him".

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    This process highlights what is wrong with the EU.

    There should be more transparency. The Iron Lady of Latvia should have been listened to. The heads of government should publicly vote for declared candidates. There should be no cloak and dagger secret meetings to decide these EU representatives.

  • Comment number 2.


    So Nick, you say, Teflon Tony is a non runner and you are suggesting Duff Gordon for El Presedento. If he gets the job I wonder if he can screw the EU up as much as he has done to the UK.

    Things can only get better.

  • Comment number 3.

    " PS. Diplomats say anything could happen tonight so complex are the competing interests that have to be reconciled. Perhaps Gordon Brown could even reconsider his rejection of the Spanish government's idea that he should be president. Then David Miliband - who Hillary Clinton described this week as "vibrant, vital, attractive, smart... really a good guy" - could take over as prime minister. Then...I should stop there. Brussels in my experience never produces anything quite that interesting."

    Good lord! what ever happened to good-old partial reporting.Nick, go and tak a cup of kindness cheer for the sake of oldlangsyne Nick.

  • Comment number 4.

    The more anonymous the better, in my opinion, as it makes it more likely that everyone will ignore them.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is what really annoys a lot of people. We, the people, will have no say on who is to be the President of the Council of Ministers. All these shady backroom deals show the EU is a very poor light. I am sure all those new entrants to Europe from the former soviet bloc countries are really happy that their years of struggle to have the right to decide who should speak on their behalf are really happy to have joined the EU.
    On another point, the left were never going to get their man (whoever that might be) into the top job as the biggest grouping in the Euro parliament is made up of Right Wing parties so it was always going to be centre candidate. Whilst the carveup meant that the High Rep job would go to a centre left candidate... All the talk of TB was just that, talk! Seriously, man who will have to testify at the Iraq enquiry next year could not possibly be the EU POTCOM (President of the Council of Ministers).

  • Comment number 6.

    I couldn't agrea more with Phillip802, this process highlights only too clearly what is wrong with the EU and why the British electorate do not connect with Europe. It is not democratic !!! The President of Europe should be elected by the people for the people and nothing less is acceptable. The holder of this post will represent us on the world stage and if he/she is to be respected they should have a mandate from the people of Europe. They should certainly not be the product of horse trading.

    As far as Brown is concerned he will care little for the outcome of this appointment and will certainly not care about the concerns that I have expressed. After all, he is not elected by the British people and has no mandate from us.

    Bring on the election !

  • Comment number 7.

    I have heard some European experts claiming The EU need Blair as a figure head to renew Europes profile on the World Stage.

    That doesn't really cut it for me.

    Firstly and Personnaly because I can't stand Blair, and a knock to that shallow ego of his is a long time in the making.

    More importantly (IMHO) is that now we have had the Eurpoean Constitution thrust upon us. All EU states should have the opportunity to get comfortable in thier own skin, and have a significant settling in period prior to a World Charm Offensive, Pennys to Pounds we have a few years all pulling in opposite directions.

    (we'll still loose the European Song contest anyway).

  • Comment number 8.

    We have to remember how Tony Blair ran the British Government when he was PM. "Sofa Government" was what it was called. I seem to remember that he didn't keep minutes of meetings and Ministers found that he made decisions without consulting them.

    If he ever became President we should all be very afraid.

    And the thought of El Gordo in the top job; he would be a real disaster for the rest of Europe.

  • Comment number 9.

    The EU doing things being agreed in secret and without any reference to the populace.
    Hmmmm. I wonder who they learnt that from? 8-)

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    With all the FOI laws will we be able to request to find out who voted for who? I'm presuming not but we can hope.

  • Comment number 12.

    To be a coherent political counterpoint of blocs such as the US required the EU to have a powerful nexus, and at this juncture, Tony Blair is the only possible candidate with the appropriate status.

    However, they may well chose a political non-entity and if so, will merely be deferring the EU's political future as a world player.

    PS. The former Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga (VVF) is on the right track with her complaints about the lack of democratic accountability, this chimes well with liberal English political sentiments.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm quite sure several of our Euro partners would much have preferred Mr Blair to be in front of a judge at the Hague for war crimes!

  • Comment number 14.

    My question would be, why should Brtiain think they will get either of the top jobs. We are not in the euro, Britain is not as a Country pro the EU. It is mere arrogance on the Britains part to believe that they were ever in the running.

    I think it is only the media and Labour that believed anyone from Britain was up to either of these jobs. We have just had MPs expenses and Britains reprutation is not exactly a good one at the present time.

    As I am against EU in principle, I obviously do not believe this process of selection for either of these jobs is democratic. However I doubt that Brown, Blair or Miliband was ever in the running, this is mere spin by Labour picked up by the media. To suggest that Brown was ever considered, I think is pure fantasy. Even if the EU believed, which I doubt, that Brown had any ability as regards economic matters, his personality and his failures in domestic policy, would most certainly rule him out. Miliband is so inept, just because Hillary has a crush on him is not an endorsement for office. Think about it logically if Miliband had ever had a chance of getting this job, why would he not make himself a candidate. Being leader of Labour, if that ever happened, a failed party is not exactly an exciting prospect.

    I think the EU President is much too big a job for one man if he is to do it properly. Therefore it seems this job is a very expensive figure-head in which case it matters not at all who takes it.

  • Comment number 15.

    Why would Europe want anyone from New Labour in a leadership position? They can see the smoke, ashes and rubble left after 12 years of Labour rule in Britain.

    Who'd want to repeat that model across the whole of Europe?

  • Comment number 16.

    Surely the bigger question is:

    Do we need an EU President at all? Likewise why have an EU Foreign Affairs chappie when there is no EU agreed policy yet? Is NATO to be disbanded? This is where the Treaty of Lisbon is exposed as a "wish list" as hard questions have been consistently brushed under the carpet.

    Individual European countries have different vested interests all over the world, so it is hard to see how there can be a common consensus for Foreign Affairs policy in say Africa and Asia.

  • Comment number 17.

    I hope Brown does become EU President in a dramatic twist of events. Or even Milliband in the Foreign Affairs role would be good too. Both of them are so awful the EU might kick us out for putting them on the EU payroll. Everyone's a winner then.

  • Comment number 18.

    If, as we are constantly asked to believe, the EU is NOT a federal state, but only a union of individual nations, why do we need a president.
    This only becomes a valid post once the EU is established as a single entity.

  • Comment number 19.

    I like the idea of Brown for President, tell him from the general public he needs only to give a weeks notice, election by christmas, sounds flipping great

  • Comment number 20.

    "If you thought it was all over" - interesting that you're using football parlance the day after the Irish got their reward for showing what good Europeans they were in their recent referendum - Thierry Henry's blatant double handball leading to the goal that put them out of the World Cup. A fine and typical example of Pan-European co-operation. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 21.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    @ JohnConstable, post #12;

    "To be a coherent political counterpoint of blocs such as the US required the EU to have a powerful nexus, and at this juncture, Tony Blair is the only possible candidate with the appropriate status."

    Umm... huh? You wot? A political counterpoint to the US??? John, have you actually been living under a rock, or asleep in a deep coma, since 1997?!? When did he EVER act as a "counterpoint" to the US?

    If they wanted somebody who would ignore European interests in favour of doing everything the Americans told him to, then Blair would be the only possible candidate with the appropriate status.

    But, I'm pretty sure they don't.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nick,

    Are the Dutch, Belgian and Latvian Prime Ministers anonymous in their own countries? I don't think so....just because it's not someone from good old Blighty,certain journallists, you now included, try and make out they are inferior in some way...don't be so ignorant.

  • Comment number 25.

    If Blair wishes to help out Labour, I trust he'll be as successful as he has been as a Middle East peace envoy...

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    15 Jonathon Cook

    #They can see the smoke, ashes and rubble left after 12 years of Labour rule in Britain.

    Ah! but it's only you and your ilk that look at Britian that way.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    if only last nights football match had been b/4 the irish had their umpteenth referendum........none of this presidential hoo hah would have been required........i

  • Comment number 30.

    The manner in which Herman Van Rompuy announced his intentions does not bode well for the quality of his leadership. Rather than make a public statement, he chose to make a speech at a meeting of the Bilderberg Group, which was held in the Castle of the Valley of the Duchess near Brussels. Only half a paragraph of his speech was released - which alluded to his intention to impose EU-wide taxation!

    I am a great fan of David Milliband, he is one of the few politicians I truly respect. To see him sidelined if the Conservatives win the next election will be a very great shame for the UK.

  • Comment number 31.

    It is outrageous that there should be a 'president' of Europe who is not elected by the citizens, but imposed by discredited career politicians who have signed the constitutional treaty without any mandate from the people to do so.

    This is tyranny!

    Not surprising therefore that Blair thought himself suitable for the job......

  • Comment number 32.

    I am all in favour of political non-entities being in charge as it means the focus is on the decision and not the pose. This is why Angele Merkel is so successful: she focuses on what is necessary.

    Personally I have always found Blair hard to stomache: it is a personality thing not a political matter. I just prefer people with intellectual and moral substance. Glibness can be found on any street corner.

    The idea that Blair comes and helps Gordon at the election is good: this will ensure that the pending collapse in the Labour vote will be even more substantial than that managed by Gordon on his own. Remember Blair is the architect of the shambles surrounding the hapless Gordon. I think this is partly why people pity Gordon; he has remained transfixed by those staring eyes.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ le roi des voleurs, post #24;

    "Are the Dutch, Belgian and Latvian Prime Ministers anonymous in their own countries? I don't think so....just because it's not someone from good old Blighty,certain journallists, you now included, try and make out they are inferior in some way...don't be so ignorant. "

    Umm... no. That is, presumably, why our esteemed blog author used the phrase "RELATIVELY anonymous".

    Pretty much everybody has heard of Tony Blair, by now. He was in the international headlines, pretty much non-stop, during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm not saying that this is a good thing - it's not - or even that it makes him any more worthy than the Latvian, Dutch or Belgium leaders.

    Nonetheless, I imagine that most people outside of their respective countries, probably won't even know the names of these individuals, let alone anything about them. They haven't had nearly as much international exposure.

  • Comment number 34.

    7. At 12:50pm on 19 Nov 2009, grandantidote wrote:

    15 Jonathon Cook

    #They can see the smoke, ashes and rubble left after 12 years of Labour rule in Britain.

    Ah! but it's only you and your ilk that look at Britian that way.

    My ilk too. Don't leave us out! There are lot of ilks that can see what New Labour have done to us.

  • Comment number 35.

    I couldn't be more pleased to hear that B-Liar won't win the post as Meion Fuhrer of the EU. After the damage he has done to this country who would want him and the wicked witch lording it over all and sundry. He's no longer an elected MP, so I believe he has no rights anyway to any post in Europe or even this planet, I have never seen such a lying, parasitic, hypocritical character in any post in any government in this country. Good riddance.

  • Comment number 36.

    The Tony Blair of 2009 is not the Tony Blair of 2005 in the eyes of the public.

    Since he is not PM he would be made VERY uncomfortable if he re-entered public life in the UK.

    e.g. some publicity seekers may try and make an arrest on war crimes. It was attempted with Mugabe.

  • Comment number 37.

    It would, of course, be truly horrifying if Blair were to get the job. But in the (hopefully) unlikely event that that happens, I guess we can take some comfort from the fact that it would get him out of the Middle East. Realistically, he can probably do a lot less damage as EU President than he can while "making peace" in the Middle East.

    BTW, Khrystalar @ #23: Well said! Couldn't have put it better myself.

  • Comment number 38.

    Love the update, I can see David Cameron drafting the letter for Gordon right now.

  • Comment number 39.

    What finished it for Blair, his lies on Iraq, period.

  • Comment number 40.

    Nick,
    Rather than it being his 'magnificence' that did him out of the job, is it not more likely to be his proven track record for treachery. They knew he would have sold them out to America, just like he did us.

    And to think, when he gave away our rebate for nothing I bet he thought he had it in the bag.

  • Comment number 41.

    24 le roi des voleurs

    Are the Dutch, Belgian and Latvian Prime Ministers anonymous in their own countries? I don't think so....just because it's not someone from good old Blighty,certain journallists, you now included, try and make out they are inferior in some way...don't be so ignorant.

    I don't think anyone means to be disparaging, the people you mention are obviously well known in their own country, what Europe needs is someone well known in world politics, to pick one of these people would be like picking the lord mayor of your local town to become prime minister, he may be well loved at the council but completely unknown to the rest of us.

  • Comment number 42.

    On the face of it, it's hard to see why TB would not be considered for the role. He has charisma in buckets, he speaks French fluently and has forged binding relationships with leaders from most parts of the world. He reminds me of a bloke I used to know who sold double glazing. Perhaps that is the problem. We all know what happened after 'sales-day' in 1997. He broke all his promises, failed to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and then 'done a runner' when things got a bit tough leaving the clunking fist to fester in the mire that was mostly of his making. It may be down to old fashioned integrity - a thing British politics has let go. Can 27 member countries believe they can trust him? I doubt it. His track record would suggest that trust might be more wisely placed elsewhere.

  • Comment number 43.

    I wouldnt put too much credence on Hillary Clintons comments..

    After all her taste in men is hardly... glittering, is it?

    Her husband has an affair with an intern, puts a cigar where it was never designed to go and then lies to the nation about it

    and now, she's fulsome about our IHT dodging communist apologist foreign secretary who only opens his mouth to change feet and insult Rabbi's?

    Yeah, Hilary, he's real smart...... [roll eyes]....

  • Comment number 44.

    '...better known, better connected and more charismatic...'
    He's an infamous neo-con sycophant and I think you're confusing charisma with the aura given off, through the total lack of self-awareness, by an embarrassing liability.

  • Comment number 45.

    we were talking on the previous thread (weren't we?) about the poisonous "drip drip" absurdities of the right wing media, and here we are now discussing this vexed issue of the EU presidency

    I'd like to knit the two things together in a neat and concise way - fact I'd not only like to, I will

    this morning, I had to fight my way grimly through a rack of Daily Expresses (mmm I know!) in order to get to my "reserved" Guardian and I couldn't help but catch the banner headline in the first mentioned rag - it was as below:

    "UK's New Belgian Boss Is A Clown!" (says his sister)

    you see what they've done there? - if that isn't shamelessly peddling Reactionary Myth number 3 ... "We are ruled by Brussels" ... then I don't know what is

    truly pathetic

    wouldn't be so bad if their readers ... all ordinary decent people, I hasten to add ... had the werewithall to see through it

    but they don't, do they?

    and as for the juvenile name calling at the end, well that's even more pathetic ... can't even get the guy's party affiliation right, for heaven's sake

  • Comment number 46.

    Poor Tony! Europe must be mad. How could they reject a man of such substance and stature? I mean, look what he did for Iraq. Tony has a unique kind of reverse Midas touch - everything he meddles in turns into the brown smelly stuff! Always thought making him Middle East peace envoy was a bit like making Hitler, if he'd survived the war, International Czar for Reconstruction in Poland....you catch my drift I'm sure. First of all Tony and his erudite buddy Bushy-boy flatten the region then he's out there all wide-eyed grinning wanting to be real helpful. Mind, if there's one lesson to be learnt from old Phoney, it's that dire mediocrity can rise to the top.......much like the brown smelly stuff!

  • Comment number 47.

    #15
    'They can see the smoke, ashes and rubble left after 12 years of Labour rule in Britain.'

    How about, they can see the smoke, ashes, rubble and corpses that used to be Iraq and Afghanistan?

  • Comment number 48.

    "Gordon Brown's energies are now, some claim, focused on securing an important economic portfolio in the commission for a Brit instead."

    How lucky for us that Brown isn't able to put himself forward while also being the leader of our government.

    If the appointments were being made on/after July then it'd be a whole different story, as an ousted/de-elected Brown would undoubtedly bully his way into an "economic eu portfolio position", luckily for us by that time it'll be too late and the eu positions will already be taken.

    I think that's probably one of the luckiest quirks of timing that we've had for a long time; it's probably saved the entire eu from total economic bankruptcy.

    Very close shave that one.

  • Comment number 49.

    41. At 1:23pm on 19 Nov 2009, grandantidote wrote:
    24 le roi des voleurs

    Are the Dutch, Belgian and Latvian Prime Ministers anonymous in their own countries? I don't think so....just because it's not someone from good old Blighty,certain journallists, you now included, try and make out they are inferior in some way...don't be so ignorant.

    I don't think anyone means to be disparaging, the people you mention are obviously well known in their own country, what Europe needs is someone well known in world politics, .......

    *******************************

    Being 'well known' doesn't mean that person is capable,competent or suitable.

  • Comment number 50.

    It amuses me to read all these people complaining about back room deals in Europe - pot calling the kettle black me thinks!

    These are the same people who swear allegiance to the monarchy. How long ago was that particular back room deal done? The Queen after all has much more power than any President of the Council of Ministers or the High Representative could ever imagine.

    At least the European appointments are being decided by a group of elected representatives. And yes, Gordon Brown was elected by his constituency. I am not aware of a presidential election ever being held in the UK.

  • Comment number 51.

    'One more such victory and we are lost'

    (Phyrrhus, on beating the Romans at the Battle of the Asculum)

  • Comment number 52.

    The UK as a whole has been unpopular in Europe for years. I don't know where this sudden rush of speculation about Labour party members filling out all of the top jobs came from; frankly it always seemed a bit unlikely.

    As for Blair he is even less popular than the rest of the UK politicians - and that has nothing to do with his 'charisma'.

  • Comment number 53.

    @ 41. At 1:23pm on 19 Nov 2009, grandantidote wrote:

    I think you miss the point, Blair is known throughout Europe & indeed the world. It would be good for Europe to have somebody of his ability, charisma & skill leading discussions.

    Sad day for Europe.

  • Comment number 54.

    @ 43. At 1:28pm on 19 Nov 2009, Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    Plsease do get it right - no Bill Clinton didn't lie about it. the dumb ass Conservertive lawyers couldn't ask the right questions.

    Hillary's taste in men got her to the White House, a senate seat & now the State Department. Put's a different light on things?

  • Comment number 55.


    Hmmm, not sure if the Belgian bloke is leader of the Belgian wing of the BNP or not. The Times quotes him as dead against the Turks ever joining the EU as they are an islamic country:

    Mr Van Rompuy appears to have the key backing of France and Germany, making him favourite to win should it come to a vote, which would be by qualified majority. Another reason for their backing emerged this morning with the disclosure of comments made by Mr Van Rompuy in 2004 ruling out Turkey from ever joining the EU on the basis of religious differences.

    "An expansion of the EU to include Turkey cannot be considered as just another expansion as in the past. The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey," he said.

    Mr Van Rompuy clearly has not visited the UK recently. Another reason for NOT having an EU President at all.

  • Comment number 56.

    15 jonathan_cook wrote:
    Why would Europe want anyone from New Labour in a leadership position? They can see the smoke, ashes and rubble left after 12 years of Labour rule in Britain.

    Steady on, old chap! You're in danger overstating your case to the point where it becomes absurd. I'm not saying everything in UK plc is tickety-boo right now, but to compare it to the aftermath of the Blitz is not going to win many people over to your views, I suspect. Particularly not those who remember the Blitz.

    I'd say the last 12 years have been pretty good, on balance. Just look at the new hospitals, the rebuilt schools, the thousands more children with nursery places, all those low-paid workers guaranteed a decent(ish) minimum wage, the reduction in crime and the improved relations with our European neighbours.

    Stop talking Britain down!

  • Comment number 57.

    'A cold-blooded, calculating, unprincipled usurper, without a virtue; no statesman, knowing nothing of commerce, political economy, or civil government, and supplying ignorance by bold presumption.'

    (Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), American president, on Napoleon Bonaparte)

    >>>>>

    Steady now Tommie, he's not the real deal!

  • Comment number 58.

    Could it be that one of the conditions for Mandleson returning to the labour fold was that Gordon Brown would, in the future, endorse Tony Blair for the presidency of the EU.
    Could it also be that if Blair achieved this position, then Mandleson would be promised a nice job back in the EU.
    Mandleson would have known, when he rejoined labour, that labours days were numbered, so always good to have an escape route.
    Both Mandleson and Blair crave to be high rollers and earners which seems to go against the grain with Brown and his cronies. But then again the labour front bench are pseudo lefties and rich in their own right, so therefore heavy on hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 59.

    Khrystalar @ 23

    In response to my assertion that the EU needs a counterpoint to the US political bloc, you ask if I have been in a coma or living under a stone since 1997, when I suggested that Tony Blair is the only feasible candidate with the appropriate status, i.e. a statesman rather than mere 'politician'.

    If Blair became the EU President, then, looking forward rather than backwards, I think you'd find that he would pursue an EU political, economic and military agenda that was as independent of the US as could be practicable, given that the US is still the worlds only super-power in all three of those domains.

    In that sense, having a stateman as EU President would bring into sharp relief the independence of Europe from other power blocs, whereas having some non-entity in post simply ensures that Europe will not be taken seriously by the other players.

  • Comment number 60.



    "4. At 11:39am on 19 Nov 2009, djlazarus wrote:
    The more anonymous the better, in my opinion, as it makes it more likely that everyone will ignore them."

    It is a common misconception that if a nonentity is elected as president, the Lisbon Treaty and perhaps even the EU will go away.

    It won`t,all it means is it will be dominated by a Franco-German axis and their agicultural and industrial interests.This is the basis of their opposition to Mr.Blair,not his superior charisma.

    "The Times" today has finally admitted the renewed power of the French-German alliance, and its interest in producing a titular head with no authority.

    They should have done this weeks ago, insteads of timidly agreeing with Mr.Hague`s threats,now British interests will be weakened.Some of us predicted this result weeks ago here and Andrew Neil`s.

    More British support for a Blair presidency may not have secured the desired result, but would have made transparent the power relationships involved at this critical juncture.

  • Comment number 61.

    Perhaps instead of an seeing all dancing job as President of Europe Mr Blair's talents would be better served as the foreign minister with the portfolio of getting NATO out of Afghanistan in time for Obama to not to have to hand the war over to his successor.

    Still a very important role probably more so than being President
    and if successful he could have the Presidents job next time around.

    No one would argue with that arrangement. I'm sure all his friends in the US would be delirious at the thought. So would we.

  • Comment number 62.

    Far as I can tell, Blair had the ability to do the actor-barrister thing of seeming to understand and quite eloquently spout about a brief.

    From my reading of the Lisbon Treaty, the President of the Council of Ministers has no executive power (save appointing or possibly sackin a very few people).

    If everything I've read about Blair were sanitised and checked for reality, the overall impression was that he wasn't a guy to bother about the details when new approaches were being cooked up. That's not exactly the requirement of somebody who's going to be trying to pull together the views of 27 Heads of Government...

    And I can't imagine any EU PM or equivalent simply acquiescing if Tony came back from a meet with Obama and said, "Oh, by the way, we're going to go to war soon". Not like the 20 odd ministers in the UK, when the Iraq adventure was announced...

  • Comment number 63.

    Could it be that very few people in his own country want him as EU President?

  • Comment number 64.

    I've noticed a lot of anti-Blair sentiment:

    7 “I can't stand Blair, and a knock to that shallow ego of his is a long time in the making.”
    10 “this piece of human detritus” “The only thing which would bring me more satisfaction is the day that somebody declares Blair himself dead.”
    46 “if there's one lesson to be learnt from old Phoney, it's that dire mediocrity can rise to the top.......much like the brown smelly stuff!”

    But if you look beyond the petty resentments and insecurities of these particular posters, Blair is generally held to be one of the most charismatic and capable politicians of the modern era, and for that reason alone would have made a formidable president of the EU. Even if you are anti-EU, a strong president must be good for Europe.

  • Comment number 65.

    This is jobs for the boys.

    The whole Lisbon Treaty and EU Constitution has nothing to do with a unified Europe. This is to do with power mongering.

    Gordon and Blair that infamous double act are behind it because labour politicians want a world stage. Look how much Gordon has been doing under the banner of global fiscal stimulus.

    The only ones who stand to benefit from a European Constitution are the politicians. Most Labour politicians have dreams about being international statesmen and women - look at their backgrounds!

    Most come up from agressive politicking through the unions and now have enormous delusions of grandeur and self importance. 'Fixing the world through Socialism!'

    This is more about ego than euro.

    Do we need to be in Europe - no of course not. There are no benefits.

    We can still trade with Europe without being a part of it, we can still share criminal intelligence (look at the recent intelligence sharing with America), we can still provide a vibrant and exciting economy that Europe would want to do business with and we can still provide a financial sector that could build globally without being a part of Europe.

    We could do all this if we can get rid of those time wasters in Number 10.

    We don't need Europe but we do need democratic accountability.

    Something Labour has just selfishly thrown away.

  • Comment number 66.

    54#

    Right... so when he said "I did not have relations with that woman" he was telling the truth???

  • Comment number 67.

    Nick asked "What was it that could have lost the EU top job for Blair?"

    Probably the fact that he is a self-aggrandising war criminal with blood on his hands.

  • Comment number 68.

    #45 sagamix wrote:
    "this morning, I had to fight my way grimly through a rack of Daily Expresses (mmm I know!) in order to get to my "reserved" Guardian "
    But I thought you said you lived in Hampstead, where the Grauniad is king?
    BTW, perhaps Anthony Seldon should stick to his day job at Wellington College. Anyone who thinks Blair would be an asset to Labour's election campaign needs to get out more.

  • Comment number 69.

    When I was listening to the Today programme this morning, I was particularly amused by Chris Patten's take on this on which showed the process up in all its absurdity, where here personal comforts of those concerned were put above matters of state.

  • Comment number 70.

    when can we the little people be allowed to vote on europe, it seems never under this government or the next judging from their statements so we have to suffer more stupid rules from overseas that should not be british laws or as a country we have to bow and scrape to our european masters.
    as for tony blair's attempt at the top job in europe he thought doing what his european masters wanted would aid him when in reality he has been used and then dumped like last weeks news papers.
    so he sold us up the river to become president, well thanks a lot tony. it seems traitors never win but they dont seem to be brought to justice either.
    hopefully history will record these recent years as second in disaster for this country to the norman invasion of 1066.
    shouldnt those elected into the british government represent what those that voted them there firstly.
    we have been failed by recent governments becouse they have bent over backwards to reduce this country to an also ran in europe when in living history we were a world power feared and respected not the joke we have become.

  • Comment number 71.

    WHERE IS MY COMMENT?

  • Comment number 72.

    50. At 1:47pm on 19 Nov 2009, manuinlondon wrote:

    "...These are the same people who swear allegiance to the monarchy. How long ago was that particular back room deal done? The Queen after all has much more power than any President of the Council of Ministers or the High Representative could ever imagine..."

    The Monarchy? Much of Europe have Royal Houses. As for it being a backroom deal, I think you'll find, if you read the history, that it was battles and feuds that reign over this decision, made some time before the 'public' had any kind of real vote or power. As for the power of the monarch, it is very much diluted. They are figurehead symbols, not political powers.

    "...I am not aware of a presidential election ever being held in the UK..."
    The UK is a Democratic Monarchy, not a republic. In order to have presidential elections, we would need to be a republic, something that has not existed in this land since 1660.

  • Comment number 73.

    34. At 1:07pm on 19 Nov 2009, bertrambird wrote:
    27. At 12:50pm on 19 Nov 2009, grandantidote wrote:

    15 Jonathon Cook

    #They can see the smoke, ashes and rubble left after 12 years of Labour rule in Britain.

    Ah! but it's only you and your ilk that look at Britian that way.

    My ilk too. Don't leave us out! There are lot of ilks that can see what New Labour have done to us.

    ===

    And my ilk, thank you grand!

  • Comment number 74.

    36. At 1:12pm on 19 Nov 2009, weejonnie wrote:
    The Tony Blair of 2009 is not the Tony Blair of 2005 in the eyes of the public.

    Since he is not PM he would be made VERY uncomfortable if he re-entered public life in the UK.

    e.g. some publicity seekers may try and make an arrest on war crimes. It was attempted with Mugabe.

    ===

    Yes, where is Peter Tatchell when he's needed?

  • Comment number 75.

    #33 Khrystalar....

    You are missing my point, I am merely suggesting that some people in this alleged great country of ours have a feeling of superiority and look down on our European neighbours, that's what I'm taking as the implication of Nick's comments. I seem to recall John Seargant on QT the other week having a good old smug laugh at the President of Luxembourg as a nobody, obviously he wouldn't have a clue about being European President, despite the fact his country hosts the ECJ!! We are still recovering from the embarrassment of views like that from our old colonial past.

  • Comment number 76.

    56. At 2:01pm on 19 Nov 2009, pdavies65 wrote:

    ........I'd say the last 12 years have been pretty good, on balance. Just look at the new hospitals, the rebuilt schools, the thousands more children with nursery places, all those low-paid workers guaranteed a decent(ish) minimum wage, the reduction in crime and the improved relations with our European neighbours.

    Stop talking Britain down!

    *********************************

    New hospials + Higher levels of MRSA and C-dif

    Thousands more children with nursery places + highest ever levels of kids leaving school unable to read or write properly.

    Low paid workers guaranteed a decent(ish) wage + benefits being a better paid career.

    Reduction in crime + Violent crime UP and Police forces no longer recording many crimes in order to reduce crime figures.

    Improved relationships with our European neighbours + more people wishing to leave the EU partnership than ever before.

    Tell the Government to stop dragging the UK down - not us!

  • Comment number 77.

    41. At 1:23pm on 19 Nov 2009, grandantidote wrote:
    24 le roi des voleurs

    Are the Dutch, Belgian and Latvian Prime Ministers anonymous in their own countries? I don't think so....just because it's not someone from good old Blighty,certain journallists, you now included, try and make out they are inferior in some way...don't be so ignorant.

    I don't think anyone means to be disparaging, the people you mention are obviously well known in their own country, what Europe needs is someone well known in world politics, to pick one of these people would be like picking the lord mayor of your local town to become prime minister, he may be well loved at the council but completely unknown to the rest of us.

    ===

    Grand, now wait for the usual suspects to come on here and lecture you about how we have NEVER elected a Prime Minister, yadda, yadda, yadda!

  • Comment number 78.

    Sagamix, my response to your post #140 on the 'Plotters, Quiters and Fighters" entry is at #232, if you're interested to read it.


    As for you XTunbridge, my British "friend"

    I read your post #211 on that entry, and tryed to respond to that as well, but the board had been closed to comments by the time I got around to it. But I didn't want you to think that I had forgotten about you, most especially because this particular post of yours caused me a rather great deal of offense, of which I feel it important to tell you about.

    First, you asked me how I handle the time difference. Funnily enough, I was going to ask you the same question. I noticed you typed your post #128 at just after midnight UK time. But I post in the early mornings and/or evenings.

    I don't remember you mentioning the FBI potencially spiriting anyone out of the country post 9/11, so I'm sorry, but if you would like my opinion on that, you'll have to explain it again.


    And this is the part that offends me so. You said, and I quote, "I am wondering if your stance is a bit of "my country right or wrong". Loyalty is an admirable trait but not blindly so. I remember how difficult the US found it to get out of Viet Nam and those opposing the war there were villified but won the day."

    If tthe main thing that you can gather from my many posts on that thread is that I'm one of those Sarah Palin, Toby Keith type narcissistic, narrow minded Americans who thinks that no other country's government, or person from another country's opinion doesn't even warrent looking at, then I am utterly speechless. I'm going to be very honest here. I think that your response #128 to my post at #100 was rather nonsensical. You took things from my post that were the farthest thing from the message that I was trying to convey, if not implyed or inferred totally ridiculous ways of solving the problems we were discussing!! For example, I said that I believed that 4 of the 9/11 hijackers trained at a flight school in Florida, and so you assume that the best way to seak justice after 9/11 should have been to invade/bomb Florida? What are you talking about? And I responded perfectly politely and kindly, and wouldn't have even felt the need to bring this up ever again, if it weren't for your above inferred assumptions of me.

    I criticise my country like its my religion!! Ask anyone who knows me!! Yes (and I apologize for this,) but as a citizen of it, yes I do get personally offended when I feel it is unfairly attacked, virbally or physically, but that does not mean by any stretch that I am "blindly loyal" to it!! And I personally think that that is the best attitude that any citizen of a democracy can, and should, have toward their government.


    "We have no trouble in disagreeing with our govts policies and we have had lots of practice lately."

    We were in that exact same boat when Dubya was in office, and we are climbing back into it now that Obama has been in a while.

  • Comment number 79.

    56 @pDavies65

    You've picked the wrong war. Gordon's efforts have been likened more closely with World War One. So far..........

  • Comment number 80.

    59. At 2:11pm on 19 Nov 2009, JohnConstable wrote:
    Khrystalar @ 23

    In response to my assertion that the EU needs a counterpoint to the US political bloc, you ask if I have been in a coma or living under a stone since 1997, when I suggested that Tony Blair is the only feasible candidate with the appropriate status, i.e. a statesman rather than mere 'politician'.

    If Blair became the EU President, then, looking forward rather than backwards, I think you'd find that he would pursue an EU political, economic and military agenda that was as independent of the US as could be practicable, given that the US is still the worlds only super-power in all three of those domains.

    ********************************

    Au contraire.

    Blair has an ongoing love affair with the US.
    His appointment as EU President would really only expand on this. Instead of just the UK being subservient to the USA he would try to bring the whole EU into the ring.

    Once a poodle, always a poodle!!

  • Comment number 81.

    does anyone have first hgand knowledge as to how our european neighbours feel about this, my Belgian colleague is as dismissive as we generally are about all this nonsense

  • Comment number 82.

    Looking at the unemplotment figures for the European continent, I can't help noticing that Switzerland and Norway are in the lowest positions.
    So there! The EU is good for employment.
    Er, hold on a minute. They,re not in the EU are they?

    Gotta be a message there somewhere.

  • Comment number 83.

    Has anyone considered it might just be because he is a *********** (please fill in your own word appropriate for your level of anger)

    It seems some on this blog have just woken up after a decade of hibernation (or they are paid to come on here by Bliars fat pay packet).

    Is this the man who took us to war under false pretences?
    Is this the man who the vast majority would like to see brought to justice in the Iraq war inquiry?
    Is this the man who presided over the boom of a decade and then left for a number of 'highly paid positions' whilst we're mired in debt?
    Is this the man who claimed he would eliminate child poverty (and then through his policies actually made it worse)?
    Is this the man who claimed expenses on the taxpayer to which he was not entitled?
    Is this the man who brought in PPP and ultimately left our tube system in dire straights as one of the biggest contractors went bust?
    Is this the man who looked us in the face whilst lying through his teeth?
    Is this the most hated man in Britain?

    YES - He is that man.

    The only way he would have got that job is if the Germans and French wanted to wind us up by placing the most odious and corrupt prime minister we have had in a hundred years at the helm.

    If being 'recognisable' is now a requirement to be the EU president then why don't we just elect Jimmy Saville because everybody knows him. If that was all Bliar had going for him then he was never a candidate.

    "Never has so much text been dedicated to someone of such little value"

    .....besides, it's not going to look good when the EU president is torn apart by a baying mob outside the Iraq inquiry now is it? If he dares show his face I shall be ready with my box of free range large ones.

  • Comment number 84.

    I've Noticed a some but not a lot of unfounded blind pro-Blair defense:


    64 "Blair is generally held to be one of the most charismatic and capable politicians of the modern era"

    But if you look beyond the naieve and misguided, patronising statements of these condesending posters,Blair is generally held to be one of the most self serving, self promoting, greedy, Messianic politicians of the modern era, and for that reason alon would have become a major embarrisment as president of the EU. If you are anti-EU a string even minded president is essential, Tony Blair isn't it.

  • Comment number 85.

    Nick: '"Henry Kissinger once famously said he didn't know who to phone if he wanted to call Europe. By the end of this evening I'm not sure he - or his successor - will be any clearer."



    Ugg that Henry Kissinger quote, dragged out into the light again like some old precious relic whenever the EU is discussed.

    Henry Kissinger was Secritary of State over 30 years ago. If you want to make the case for a more unifyed Europe, perhaps you could cite the frustrations of a more recent Secritary of State? How about Madalin Awbrite, or James Baker?

    That having been the case, I assume that when you say that you don't know if "Kissinger - or his successor" will be any clearer on knowing who to call if he wanted to call Europe by the end of the night, that you mean Clinton's successor. Am I right?

  • Comment number 86.

    64. At 2:20pm on 19 Nov 2009, pdavies65 wrote:

    "But if you look beyond the petty resentments and insecurities of these particular posters, Blair is generally held to be one of the most charismatic and capable politicians of the modern era, and for that reason alone would have made a formidable president of the EU. Even if you are anti-EU, a strong president must be good for Europe."

    - or in other words - he's the best liar we have encountered for ages.

    When you say charasmatic - I presume you're only comparing him to Major and Brown.
    When you say capable - I presume you mean 'culpable' and it's a typo.
    When you say 'strong and formidable' - do you mean like he showed his strength by standing up to George Bush in his war crusade based on fictional evidence of nuclear weapons? - oh but he didn't, did he.

    You are a joker - don't you realise when you've been lied to?

    Bliar betrayed the working class, then he betrayed the middle class - and now he is swannong around the world as one of the ruling class.

    ...not what I would call someone with integrity.

  • Comment number 87.

    It is a pity, if as you say, some EU leaders do not want "a European figurehead better known, better connected and more charismatic than they were". Surely the point should be to have someone like that, who can knock heads together and can act in the interest of the people of the whole EU, not just the interests of their own nation.

    Perhaps one day we will have a president directly elected by all citizens of the EU, who will therefore have the power to do for the EU, what Obama can do for the US.


  • Comment number 88.

    pdavies
    "Blair is generally held to be one of the most charismatic and capable politicians of the modern era".

    I would agree that Blair was not short on the charisma front. Rather like Wilson in his day, he moved effortlessly among celebrities like footballers and actors. He managed to win the 2005 election when any Prime Minister with his record would have been sunk without trace. I will never understand how he did it, but the results were there for all to see even though claims of lying over the Iraq war were echoing around the country and his own colleagues were in total disarray.

    He rarely attended Parliament, other than when he could enjoy the knock about of PMQs at which he was the master. That was why they clapped him out on his last day although there was a noticeable tinge of relief then on the Government benches.

    As to his capability I think others will post much more eloquently than I could on his record, but I think that what the Labour Government under Blair and Brown achieved was a disaster. I well remember that day in May 1997 and the triumphalism that attended his victory. As someone who was gutted at the outcome I managed to put political feelings to one side and fell for all the music and the spin. Things could only get better after the sleaze and incompetence of Major's government. It took about a couple of months and the pensions debacle before the truth began to dawn that what we had elected was a party of boasts and promises who were to turn out to be every bit as incompetent as the Major crowd, and who could stand their corner on any debate about sleaze. Except with their sleaze, prefaced in 1996 with the braying of Prescott and others, it was rich with hypocracy.

    It has been a totally wasted opportunity, when we gave them the chance three times and what we got was something which has left the country impoverished for the experience. If, as in 2005, this country managed to re-elect them in 2010 it would prove to me that we had lost our senses and that the outlook for our children and grandchildren was as bleak as at any time in my 72 years.

  • Comment number 89.

    Seldon claims that Blair now has "an especially jaundiced view of the Conservatives' tribalism in not backing him" and says that the man the Tories have always feared is ready to help Labour campaign but "only if Brown asks him".

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Well, guess what - many have a jaundiced view of Blair!

    Brown's pathetic attack on the Tories in the commons yeterday, following in the footsteps of Blair was one of the worst acts of treachery and hypocrisy that I think that I have ever seen.

    We have Brown lecturing us again on equality when it is Brown and Blair who have knighted every toff or wannabe toff they can find particularly if they are extremely wealthy, from overseas and/or are a banker.

    When Labour get around to knighting e.g. some of our frontline doctors, nurses, teachers, soldiers, traffic wardens, bin-men, charity workers, police, fire and ambulance crew workers, preferably with e.g. Merseyside, Birmingham, Cornish, NE regional accents and putting them also in the House of Lords - then seeing will be believing!

    Pigs will be flying first as action speaks louder than words!

    Some of us are sick of 'jobs for the boys' and which Labour flagged as a key commitment in 1997 - if the EU shows a process of merit in deciding the appointment, then surely that should exclude Blair with his serious ongoing 'baggage'?

  • Comment number 90.

    sircomespect @ 65

    I think I'd better translate this one from "Reactionary Mush" to "Plain English" since not everyone is fluent in the both. Won't be doing this for every RM post, however, so I'd recommend you take notes and retain.

    RM: "This is jobs for the boys"

    PE: I'm anti Europe.

    RM: "The whole Lisbon Treaty and EU Constitution has nothing to do with a unified Europe. This is to do with power mongering"

    PE: Please note and applaud my cynicism. I'm a Man of the World and I understand these things.

    RM: "Gordon and Blair that infamous double act are behind it because Labour politicians want a world stage. Look how much Gordon has been doing under the banner of global fiscal stimulus"

    PE: I hate to see these Labour types getting all uppity.

    RM: "The only ones who stand to benefit from a European Constitution are the politicians. Most Labour politicians have dreams about being international statesmen and women - look at their backgrounds!"

    PE: These Labour jobbies, why can't they stick to wearing overalls?

    RM: "Most come up from aggressive politicking through the unions and now have enormous delusions of grandeur and self importance. 'Fixing the world through Socialism!'"

    PE: Horrible grubby Labour wallahs with ideas above their station. Yuck!

    RM: "This is more about ego than euro. Do we need to be in Europe? - no of course not. There are no benefits"

    PE: Europe is holding us back from doing things in our National Interest such as closing the borders to new migrants and repealing all that pesky human rights legislation.

    RM: "We can still trade with Europe without being a part of it, we can still provide a vibrant and exciting economy that Europe would want to do business with"

    PE: We could get rid of the minimum wage and all that baloney, just let it rip!

    RM: "And we can still provide a financial sector that could build globally without being a part of Europe"

    PE: Let's not interfere with Banker's bonuses. Poor form.

    RM: "We could do all this if we can get rid of those time wasters in Number 10"

    PE: I'm a Tory and I can't wait to see "my people" back in.

    RM: "We don't need Europe but we do need democratic accountability. Something Labour has just selfishly thrown away"

    PE: Call an Election!

  • Comment number 91.

    IMHO Mr Blair would never have been elected as EU president by the rest of the EU. The reasons include (but are not all of them) the US/UK invasion of Iraq -(which some believe to be illegal), and that the UK did not join the Euro.

    No matter what your feelings are regarding Mr Blair, he was/is a charismatic person and is one of the most recognised people in the world. However he is also British and the question that I have asked my European friends is how Great Britain and the British are viewed in Europe? The answer is not very complimentary. The sanitized version is basically that Great Britain is in Europe but not part of it. When I asked them about Mr Blair as EU President, every time they just laughed and said "Never".

    We are witnessing the start of the project that will become "The United States of Europe" (it might take a century before it is completed). At this point in time you need someone who can build consensus, rather than cause division.

    Drawing parallels in history (with the birth and evolution of the USA) I have wondered what state Great Britain most resembles. I keep comming back to the great state (or Republic if you come from there) of Texas.

  • Comment number 92.

    I guess the reason people don't want Blair is because they ask them selves this question......

    Blair resigned because.....

    a) His work was complete....the UK was perfect and there was no more he could do to improve it.

    b) He was chronically ill, near his death bed and unable to carry on.

    c) He knew the house of cards he had built was about to collapse and ran off to build a personal fortune on the lecture circuit, leaving his hated fat rival to carry the can.

  • Comment number 93.

    Beeb. Re.News 24
    Every time you go to the item about the EU leaders arriving for their meeting, you show footage of Merkel and Blair. Two questions.

    !. What part of the EU is Blair the leader of?

    2. Or do you know something we don't know?

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 66. At 2:29pm on 19 Nov 2009, Fubar_Saunders wrote:

    the response was accurate & not a lie. as the lawyer/ interrogator defined "sexual relations" in a particular way.

    please do read the transcript in full, instead of swallowing the rubbish that's written in newspapers about the episode

  • Comment number 95.

    Fubar @66

    Bill Clinton was a very talented lawyer. So when you ask

    "Right... so when he said "I did not have relations with that woman" he was telling the truth???"

    They/he did not define what was meant by relations - it could have meant sons/daughters - not "intimacy"

    They are very tricksy these lawyers.

  • Comment number 96.

    It is becoming increasingly clear that a majority (and growing) of the UK population are opposed to the way in which the EU has developed. Succesive British governments have refused to allow the people any say on this. It is all well and good for the EU supporters to decry calls for a referendum on membership, but is is now clear that post Lisbon (on which again the people were betrayed by their government on the promised say)that our options are simply put up with it or leave - renegotiation of membership is a pipedream. If enough people are opposed to membership, but are denied a voice, then it is tyranny not democracy. The question about continued membership will have to be asked sooner or later, or there is a danger of serious civil unrest, and there is little point in putting it off because it simply distracts attention from other important issues, as John Major found out the hard way.

    Before we worry about who will be president, famous or not, we need to decide if we want one at all. I'm all for leaving them to their petty squables and back door deals and rejoining the rest of the free world, where we belong and the democratic rights of the people are respected.

  • Comment number 97.

    #90

    I guess those failing your 'reactionary mush' test would be the ones denied the vote in your 'New Republic'?

  • Comment number 98.

    Pursuit of Love @ 78

    "Sagamix, my response to your post #140 on the 'Plotters, Quiters and Fighters" entry is at #232, if you're interested to read it"

    Thank you, I did and enjoyed doing so.

    When it's PoL v Palin (urgh!) for President a few short years from now, I know who I'll be rooting for.

    Might even fly over and campaign for you.

  • Comment number 99.

    @ 72. At 2:40pm on 19 Nov 2009, SHLA2UK wrote:

    If I follow your argument, because these back room deals & wars happened a long time ago, its ok. Further, I challenge your assertion that the Monarchy in this country has no power? Last time I checked it has the power to dissolve parliament at will, it has the power to reject the will of the people and refuse the majority party the opportunity to form a Government

    The "mother of democracies" relies for its existence on the first born son of the Royal Family doing the right thing.

    You call Great Britain, a "Democratic Monarchy". that is best described as an oxymoron!


    With reference to "...I am not aware of a presidential election ever being held in the UK..." i was referring to the tired old augments often repeated on this bolg that Brown is in some way illegitimate as he hasn't faced the electorate since becoming party leader.

  • Comment number 100.

    Instead of Brussels maybe TB can make a trip to the Hague for his war crimes.
    Also why would the tories be worried about TB campaigning against them? He surely realises the game is up for NuLabour more so than anybody.

 

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