NEW POLL: would you support Tony Blair as the first President of the EU?

The speculation that Tony Blair might become the first President of the European Union – a post created by the soon-to-be-ratified Lisbon Treaty – continues to swirl around. The BBC reports today:

Gordon Brown has said he would be “very happy” to support a bid by his predecessor Tony Blair to be the first president of the European Council. But the prime minister told MPs the post did not yet exist as the Lisbon Treaty creating it had not become law. The BBC understands Mr Brown will put Mr Blair’s case to other EU leaders in Brussels later this week after previously denying it would do so.

But there are major potential obstacles in Mr Blair’s way – first, other qualified candidates, especially from the EU’s smaller nation states, and, secondly, the opposition of the Lib Dems and Tories to his candidacy. Here’s what Nick Clegg today said:

Tony Blair’s chances of becoming the EU president were dealt a blow today when Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, rejected his candidacy … Clegg joined the ranks opposing Blair, saying he had the wrong political skills. “Government by directive, or in his case by sofa, just does not work in the EU,” he said.

Clegg’s views carry weight because there are seven Liberal prime ministers in the EU and he leads the largest Liberal party in Europe. The Lib Dem leader, who worked in the European commission and was an MEP, said: “Blair really is the wrong person for this job. He won’t be very good at it and he will not enjoy it. This job is about giving the EU strength that is the sum of its parts, and it is not importing Hollywood stardust in the hope that a political globetrotting superstar will transform the fortunes of the EU.” …

He suggested the best UK candidates were either Lord Patten, the former Conservative party chairman, or the former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown.

But is Nick right? Labour’s Dennis MacShane has put forward staunchly the case for President Tony in Newsweek:

This is not a traditional contest for a big international job. Everyone knows Blair’s qualities and faults. But almost everyone also recognizes that he can put Europe on the world map in a way that no Brussels Eurocrat has ever managed. … if Europe chooses a bland, barely known former national leader for its first true president, the continent and the rest of the world will roll over in boredom and promptly ignore him or her.

… the post of EU president will be shaped by the first person who holds it. Here Blair offers a big advantage: he’ll bring with him the vision thing that Europe often lacks. Limiting himself to just a few major interventions a year, Blair could speak for Europe at a global level. He could use the post as a bully pulpit and help the EU regain the enthusiasm that was generated 25 years ago when Jacques Delors worked with Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand to create the single market, launch the euro, and thus transform the old, cozy European Economic Community into something bigger and much more meaningful. … To make the job work, Europe’s elected leaders are also going to have to share the limelight. But if anyone can persuade them to, it’s President Blair.

What do LDV’s readers think? Does the mere notion of President Blair fill you with dismal despair? Or would you be prepared to hold your nose and vote for Tony because a Big Job needs a Big Politician? Here’s the question: Do you support or oppose Tony Blair becoming the first President of the European Union? And here are your options:

  • Yes – no matter what you think of Blair, Europe needs his leadership abilities
  • No – he is the wrong man for the job
  • Please feel free to show your working in the comments thread below …

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47 Comments

  • The choice is between a non-entity who will achieve not much, or a powerful figure who will do a great deal of things we dont agree with. Hmm.

  • NO NO NO Blair doesnt just have blood on his hands, hes up to his waist in it . A Million dead to preserve an imaginary “special relationship”. Blair has the vision thing alright but its fake, the visions of a con-artist.

  • Possibly.

    If the only other candidate was Nick Griffin.

    Though, on the other hand ………

  • I don’t really want to see anyone as President of Europe, but there are at least a couple of hundred million people I’d choose ahead of that turd.

  • Martin Land 28th Oct '09 - 8:52pm

    This whole ‘debate’ if I can call it that neatly sums up why this country is such a dead loss on the international stage.

    A lightweight, American aircraft carrier and stooge.

    Regardless of their opinions, the French political establishment or that of most other European nations would bite your hand off at the chance to have one of their politicians, however much they might dislike him or her, as the first European President.

    Influence, national advantage and importance would be seen as being more important than a like or dislike of the individual.

    Meanwhile, we just bite our hand off. Instead of being the most influential and important member of the largest political and economic unit in the world, we are just the 51st state. Pathetic.

  • I don’t particularly like Blair either but like Martin I realise that he is an important figure on the International stage. In other countries he is thought of as a supreme politician a man to be admired not a minnow like Cameron and his coterie of hangers on. Yes he is an atlanticist, which I think will count against him on the European stage but gives him a great deal of clout in the USA.
    If we have a anti European Government next (very probably), a Tony Blair presidency of the EU would make things very interesting.

  • Peter Welch 28th Oct '09 - 9:31pm

    I wouldn’t put it in the same terms, but Martin makes a good point. The French have a national policy of getting the first president of anything (and very often succeed). Look at the row when they didn’t get the first President of the ECB. The Spanish take a similar approach. I am pretty sure the PP would back Gonzalez (who might be in the running).

  • Herbert Brown 28th Oct '09 - 10:00pm

    “Instead of being the most influential and important member of the largest political and economic unit in the world, we are just the 51st state. Pathetic.”

    I’m afraid any ideas about Britain being “the most influential and important member” of the EU are firmly in the realms of fantasy. And of course the irony is that Blair has done more than anyone else to damage relations with the other members of the EU in recent years.

    He also has a rather unusual quality in a politician – he seems even more loathsome in “retirement” than he did in power.

  • NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!
    BLiar is a war criminal with blood all over his hands. He should be in jail.

  • Herbert Brown 29th Oct '09 - 12:04am

    “Voting yes, on the grounds of Monbiot’s argument.”

    Just for the benefit of people who couldn’t be bothered to find out what that argument was – I almost couldn’t – it seems to be that presidential duties would make it harder for Blair to avoid arrest as a mass murderer.

    I wish he could be brought to justice, but the cynic in me says that such things don’t happen.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Oct '09 - 9:08am

    My own feeling is that Blair most likely did think a quick intervention in Iraq would topple Saddam Hussein and a government reasonable for the people of Iraq would arise. Had this happened, those of us who opposed the intervention would have been left looking very foolish, continually taunted with “If you had your way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, inflicting death and misery on the people of Iraq”. I remember thinking at the time that they must have something organisationally set up in Iraq – Saddam’s inner circle riddled with US/UK plants – which obviously they couldn’t tell us about, which would spring into action and become the government once the intervention started, because it would surely be very stupid if they didn’t.

    Well, it looks like they didn’t, but I think it has to be classed as stupidity rather than evil. I don’t think Blair set out delighting in the idea of huge numbers being killed, which is what is implied by much of this “mass murderer” and “war criminal” accusations. I am not myself sure how many of the deaths we are told occurred are directly due to US/UK troop action, and how many are due to the civil war and gangs which grew up i the aftermath of the intervention. Unfortunately, there are too many people with a political motivation, and the ultimate driving force of Islamicism which seems very cleverly to have set this whole thing up to work like clockwork, to be able to trust much of what is being said.

    So, I would certainly reject Blair for any leading role, but it would be on the grounds of foolishness and poor judgement, rather than the accusations made by many here. In particular it is clear he is a person who blunders on convinced by his own superiority and lack of any sort of collegial instinct, not taking advice given to him by wiser people, proud even of not taking that advice. Those he seems closest to, who he chooses to mix with, show that he is an appalling judge of character. He has not learnt from his mistakes, and he is unable to be honest about them or to apologise. The man is a nightmare and should not be given a position of leadership in a corner sweet shop, let alone the whole of the European Union. But he is not evil.

  • Matthew Huntbach 29th Oct '09 - 11:34am

    @Teek

    My assumption is that he actually was hoping for a), should have done b), and also c) consulted wiser colleagues, d) done a bit more research to absolutely sure this wouldn’t go as it did, e) think again – troops, even when sent with good intentions, rarely act in a way consistent with those good intentions.

    So I’m not sure where you’re disagreeing with me, unless you’re expecting me to use some modern style linguistic inflation so that I have to say something like “Super duper 110% bad judgement”.

    On war crimes, the technical meaning of this term is when cruelty and terror beyond what is acceptable with armies fighting in a war happens. If Blair had ordered torture, or rounding up civilians and executing them, yes that would have been a war crime. I think it useful to reserve the term for that sort of thing.

    If, let us say, the government of a country is rounding up people and putting them into gas chambers, and other governments for reasons of fear or because they are doing similar do not agree to a United Nations involvement to stop that, unilateral action by one government to stop it may be “illegal”, but I think perhaps we need a different word than “war criminal” to describe those ordering it, because “war criminal” has an existing and different meaning.

    I have felt throughout that there are a lot of people who because of their dislike for Blair for other reasons have been too happy to use exaggerated lines. To what extent these lines are being picked up and used to fan the flame of Islamicism, or are being furthered by those who want that, is an interesting question. Islamicism seems to me in any case to be essentially Trotkskyism with a hard Islamic coating. It is just a coating – exaggerated adoption of the outward signs of religion is often a sign of lack of faith inside – as the prophet Issa is recorded as saying on several occasions. Just because we dislike Blair, however, is no reason for us to join in these people’s political campaign.

  • Grammar Police 29th Oct '09 - 1:04pm

    Even ignoring whether Blair would be good at the job: one way to make the EU even less popular than it already is in the UK, would be to make Tony Blair president . . .

  • The Headline would be
    “Euro President on Trial for War Crimes”
    No thanks.

  • Peter Laubach 29th Oct '09 - 6:19pm

    There are absolutely no circumstances in which I could support this man undertaking any public office. He should dispatch himself to an enclosed monastery and reflect there on his conduct for the rest of his days. Sackcloth & ashes!

  • I must admit though, it is quite entertaining to watch so many people who were happy cheerleaders for the Lisbon treaty having a collective tantrum at the potential consequences.

  • Matthew Huntbach 30th Oct '09 - 9:45am

    Iainm


    I must admit though, it is quite entertaining to watch so many people who were happy cheerleaders for the Lisbon treaty having a collective tantrum at the potential consequences.

    The fact that one argues very strongly against some proposed candidate for some position does not necessarily imply one is against that position existing. You might as well argue that it is amusing to watch people who are supporters of democracy attacking some of those whom democracy sometimes puts in power.

    In this case it is important that people who are British should be particularly forceful in arguing why some particular British person is not wanted in this position. It is very easy for people elsewhere to see a successful politician from a particular country and think he or she is universally admired in that country. That is particularly so for the UK, where our electoral system distorts support so that the scale of electoral opposition to the Prime Minister is often not realised outside our country.

  • littleoleamerican 30th Oct '09 - 2:43pm

    Yes – MacShane is correct; Tony Blair should be the president of the EU Council. I have never heard of any of the other candidates. If most of the world hasn’t heard of them, it must mean they haven’t done anything significant during their political lives. Totally boring, ha? I would hope that whoever is chosen, would speak English. Sorry if that sounds arrogant, but I’m an American, after all.
    People pay attention when Tony Blair speaks. When you are intelligent, experienced and have charisma to boot, I don’t see there is any other logical choice.

  • Cllr Patrick Smith 30th Oct '09 - 5:08pm

    The appointment of Tony Blair to the post of Chair of the Council of Ministers would be wrong as the post itself is supernumerary in the context of the oligarchical and supra national Treaty of Lisbon.

    Should a Chair be required if the rueful Czechs do decide to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon, than Paddy Ashdown would be the most appropriate democratic choice for Chair of the Council of European Ministers, as he has the greater understanding and respect for diversity.

    I have also read Norman Baker`s `A Strange Death of David Kelly’ and remember well Charles Kennedy`s principled stance based on plain reasoning as to why the L/D`s did not vote for the original intervention in Iraq. in 2003.

  • Dave McCullough 3rd Nov '09 - 3:50pm

    yes. despite what we, as Lib Dems, think about his decision to go to war in Iraq, we can’t deny he is a first rate politican with excellent communications skills. This is vital if we are to get across the pro-European message in the UK. he might have disappointed during his time as PM on European issues, but he is still a pro-European and we would be foolish to try and stop him just because of our national, political differences. I would personally welcome his appointment here in Brussels.

  • Dave McCullough 5th Nov '09 - 4:44pm

    Jock, because no one else has done it succesfully and so why not take advantage of one fo the great communicators being at the helm of Europe? We lib dems have done a bloody awful job at it so ill take what i can get. perhaps you disagree because you dont want someone selling Europe because you dont agree with the whole idea? it certainly sounds like it. secede to your hearts content. good luck though: We conspiritorial federalists have made it impossible anyway. peace!

One Trackback

  • By Daily View 2×2: 29 October 2009 on Thu 29th October 2009 at 7:54 am.

    […] Our poll on the issue is currently running – and is not looking good for Mr Blair’s interests in the role of president of the Council of Ministers. […]

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