Brussels’ new pontiff

Article first published in Red Pepper in January, 2010.

It was a shame that Tony Blair was not appointed the first European president. I really did want Tone to get the gig – if only so I could throw a shoe at him. Apart from that, my interest in whether the prize was won by the former Labour leader – or, for that matter, by whichever other personage the European Council, that secular version of a secretive papal conclave, came up with – was acutely limited in comparison with my frustration that it was a secretive papal conclave doing the deciding.

From the pacifist anti-Blair flutterings of the Guardian’s Comment is Free web pages to the swivel-eyed Belgo-phobic fulminations my grandad takes as gospel in the Daily Express, most commentators across the union have lamented that the man who ultimately was installed, Belgian PM Herman Van Rompuy, is a political dwarf. The same goes for Catherine Ashton, the EU’s new foreign minister.

Of Van Rompuy, the blimpish Express headline yawped: ‘Britain ruled by a Belgian? You must be joking!’ This was followed by spitting, wholly fallacious philippics at ‘his crazed plans for building a European superstate and … ambitions for a massive new taxation offensive.’ They are missing the point: it’s not who wins the crown, it’s who is doing the anointing that matters.  Continue reading →

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