Tony Blair: L’Europe, ce n’est pas moi
Who else could wear the crown of Charlemagne with such pseudo-royal finesse? Who else could possibly match Tony Blair on the world stage? Who else could charm and smarm his way from Rome and Berlin to Paris and Dublin? Who else could create the role ex nihilo and give the semblance of an omnipotent ‘President of Europe’ to balance the President of the United States. Of course, the power of the role is nothing like, but seeming is all. And Tony Blair ‘seems’ par excellence.
It is inconceivable to Cranmer that the Presidency would go to anyone else: the role was made for Tony Blair, and he for it. God knows, he even converted in order to proclaim the Old Faith at home and abroad, even if it be not quite according to Pope Benedict’s hermeneutic.
Mr Blair’s problem is his campaign team. David Miliband clearly irritated EU leaders with his allusion to Mr Blair’s political X-Factor – his ability to ‘stop the traffic in Moscow and Beijing’. And the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom told EU leaders: 'Get real - this is a unique opportunity to get a strong progressive politician to be president.' When Gordon Brown instructs his fellow EU leaders to ‘get real’ about Mr Blair’s candidacy, the medium becomes offensive and patronising. Who, after all, is he to lecture the presidents and prime ministers of the great nations of Europe to ‘get real’? Why should the omnipotent Franco-German Axis, the progeny of Emperor Charlemagne, listen to a gruff Scottish schizoid whose political growl is as feeble as a dying breath?
And so Tony Blair now has competition in the form of:
John Bruton of Ireland
Bertie Ahern also of Ireland
Jan Peter Balkenende of the Netherlands
Herman Van Rompuy of Belgium
Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia
Wolfgang Schüssel of Austria
Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg
Felipe Gonzalez of Spain
Paavo Tapio Lipponen of Finland
and Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden
Failures, pygmies, nobodies and has-beens (or are they have-beens?). The only name missing is Neil Kinnock.
Until one realises that perhaps the very notion of 'President Blair' would be antithetical to the EU’s historic modus operandi. The Empire has not got where it is today by being overt, in-your-face and transparent with all its plans and strategies disclosed. No, it has only become omnipotent through covert and under-hand means, by being secret and opaque. Pick the most anonymous, innocuous name from the list above, and perhaps you are more likely to find the first ‘President of Europe’, for the role is best forged behind the scenes, out of the public gaze, unscrutinised by an oblivious, distracted, celebrity-obsessed media. And Tony Blair is a political superstar: he would be the very incarnation of the hitherto-concealed and frequently-refuted reality that the EU is indeed a state, with its own government, diplomatic service, central bank, currency, airspace, army...
And so the first President of Europe is to be chosen in secret by an élite trinity: the BBC reports that EU leaders ‘have now set up a three-man team to decide on their position’.
Three men to decide the President of half a billion people?
As Charles Moore once observed, the inexorable drive to ever-closer union ‘is being conducted like a papal conclave’. In this, he echoed the late Lord Shore of Stepney, who observed that the Commission behaves ‘like a priestly caste - similar to what it must have been in pre-Reformation days, when the Bible was in Latin, not English; the Pope, his cardinals and bishops decided the content of canon law and the message came down to the laymen, only when the Latin text was translated into the vernacular by the dutiful parish priest’.
Such a top-down, autocratic system of government is antithetical to the bottom-up model of accountability which beats with the heart of Protestant theology. From Rome’s Jean Monnet and Robert Schumann to Lisbon’s Chancellor Werner Fayman and whoever the other two are, it is government by the anti-democratic guardians of self-interest.
Plus ça change.