There is much ado about the prospect of Tony Blair being the European Union’s first President. Of course, the first thing to say is that I suspect that this is a ‘Westminster Village’, political press story which is awfully exciting to politicos but not of much interest to wider voters. In that context I think the Politics Home poll of it’s ‘PH100’ which concludes it is safe for the government to campaign for Blair is the correct one. I don’t know of any opinion poll on the subject but suspect that there maybe an afterglow of affection for Blair now he has left office and faded from the collective consciousness somewhat; whether that is merited or not is, of course, another matter but at least Gordon Brown can console himself with the thought that his endorsement of Blair won’t make things worse.
For the Conservatives however, things are a little more tricky and the poll concludes that it would not be in their interest ot make an issue of a Blair presidency. It could look like petty point-scoring and could focus attention on an issue that still seems to be causing them some difficulty. Some debate is going on within on the pages of Conservative Home with some (not unsurprisingly) appalled at the thought and some arguing tactically in favour;
Having repeatedly called for renegotiation of our position within the EU, I don’t think my Euroscepticism should be in any doubt. But we should not confuse believing that the world should be different with failing to make the best of the world as it is. And the way the world is is going to include a President of the EU. And, that being so, it simply must be in the UK’s interests and, indeed, in the interests of the country called “Europe”, that our President be Blair. It seems to me to be plain silly to be spiteful, and, in the name of some ill-judged personal revenge against Blair, oppose his candidature.
Meanwhile, what are we saying? The answer is not an awful lot, so instead of making the case for a democratised Europe and against a Presidential post that is unelected we have nothing to say. This silence is not very becoming but is rather symptomatic of a developing desire not to be seen as too keen on Europe and setting ourselves against the tide. How we expect to change things like this is beyond me….