Thursday 29 October 2009

Tony Blair - President of Europe? Gawd help us!

Much heated debate here about whether the 'grinner' should become the first long-term President of the Council of Europe - an (unlected) figurehead, a post he apparently wants very much. Up to now there has been a rotating 6-monthly tenure so that each member state has a crack of the whip sooner or later but it's been felt that one unchanging leader (though only with limited powers) would be better able to represent the Union. I don't detect much support for his nomination, even here in the UK, apart from those political allies who stood by him through thick and thin. But I think it can fairly be said that for the majority of Brits he just carries too much negative baggage with him, in particular his disastrous foreign policy adventures as well as his inadvisable cosying up to 'Dubya' despite reservations from all over the continent, not least from his own country. Nevertheless he does appear to be front-runner - in fact the only other candidate, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, is so far behind it's all but settled. But if Monsieur Sarkozy and Frau Merkel get their way it's too early to give up hope that he won't be accepted. Actually it seems that the only other major European leader who supports Blair for the post is that joke-on-legs, Silvio Berlusconi. Say no more! Blair, like Thatcher and Gorbachev (and B. Clinton?) historically carries more respect outside his home country than domestically. I did indeed vote for Blair back in 1997 - not just to kick out the tired old scandal-ridden Conservatives but at that moment he did seem to be a breath of fresh air - though that same air grew fetid remarkably quickly. Having said all that, we gays must never forget that it was his dogged determination, more than anyone else's, in the teeth of strong and often hysterical opposition, which was responsible for bringing us legal parity across the board. So we must be eternally grateful for that, of course - though there are still religious leaders and others still yapping on about their right to discriminate against gays on 'grounds of conscience'. So no surprise there. But now, after he converted to Roman Catholicism shortly after leaving office and his active support for religious foundations (of whatever faith) Blair has tarnished himself in a way I find difficult to overlook, though it would be the appalling historic legacy that I would regret most of all in him as President. I certainly wouldn't want someone with such a C.V. to speak for me! - and, I repeat, it'll be an unelected post. Mind you, he might have had his ambition's guns spiked by the Conservative opposition (who will almost certainly win next year's election) declaring that they would regard the appointment of Blair to the post of President as a 'hostile act'. Nice one! So, we'll wait and see what happens. Interesting days ahead.

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