Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tony Blair: The Non-Destined President

Blair Presidency not inevitable after all

As Michael Cockerell notes in Tony Blair: The Inside Story, Tony Blair ascended to the Prime Ministership of Britain riding a wave of enthusiasm that had marked him as a "figure of destiny".

When he finally left the Prime Minister's Office, it was a tide of discontent that hastened his departure -- and now threatens to wash his Labour party away.

Recent speculation suggested that Blair may ride a similar wave of enthusiasm into the soon-to-be-established Presidency of the European Union. That enthusiasm is said to have deeply taken root in the European leaders who will ultimately elect the EU President.

But, as it turns out, there seems to be some opposition to a Blair Presidency crystalizing. Some may feign surprise that much of this opposition is emerging from left-wing elements in European politics, although it really isn't all that surprising.

French Socialist MEP Pervenche Berès phrases the cause for the objections rather succinctly.

"A lot of Socialists have not forgotten Blair for his wholehearted support for the US-led war in Iraq," Berès said. "He does not represent the views of real Socialists and there is no way he should be considered.”

Berès' sentiments were echoed by Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the joint leader of the European Green Party. "There is no way Blair should get this job," Colin-Bendit insisted. "He did nothing to defend European interests when he was Prime Minister and has done even less as a Middle East envoy."

One would expect that at least the British Labour party cacus in the European Parliament would be in favour of a Blair Presidency. But Richard Howitt, a Labour Member of European Parliament, doesn't buy into the notion of the inevitable Blair Presidency.

“Some say Blair is the only credible candidate but I don't see it that way at all," Howitt said. "I am sure he wants the job but there are other outstanding candidates who should be considered."

Even with some high-profile endorsements -- such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy -- there may well be enough residual bad will toward Blair lingering from the days of his close association with George W Bush to torpedo his bid for the European Presidency.

At the very least, reports that Blair has it all locked up are clearly greatly exaggerated.

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