Watch live video of Iraq Inquiry. WARNING!!! No LIVE Hangings. Sorry.
Comment at end
3rd December, 2009
IT HURTS … IN THE POCKET
Santé, Monsier Barnier!
DROWNING THE CITY
A triple whammy! No, not Rompuy, the Other One and This One, although on second thoughts that could amount to a SEXTET without the sex.
We recently managed to shoot ourselves in the foot, throw the baby out with the bath water and smile while committing hara-kiri. Blair is NOT EU President and all is well with the EU. Except it isn’t.
Our self-flagellation has been pitiful to watch. Some of us, who until recently were proud Europeans feel it deeply, even if we did not take part in the masochism.
WHAT FOOLS! What utterly disgraceful, narrow-minded, denying fools we have been, as a nation and a continent.
And now we have the gentleman above “supervising” the British economy. It’s enough to turn a Europhile to UKIP! (On second thoughts, hara-kiri might be preferable.)
The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) today accused French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, of damaging public confidence in the EU in a stinging response to his comments over “freewheeling Anglo Saxon” financiers.
The BBA said President Sarkozy’s “hostile” claim that the appointment of Michel Barnier as the Commissioner for the Single Market would curb the “free-wheeling Anglo-Saxon model” of finance, “undermines the principle that commissioners serve all member states, not merely their home countries, and casts doubt on the reasons why the French advocated their candidate for the role.”
Speaking at the Worshipful Company of International Bankers’ luncheon in London today, Angela Knight, chief executive of the BBA said: “Monsieur Sarkozy must surely recognise that he has undermined the EU with his statements and put a question mark over the impartiality of his nominated Commissioner that will not be easily dispelled.
“If anyone in the European project thinks for a minute that they are capable of subverting the years of effort it took us to make the UK the world’s financial centre, they are sadly mistaken. At stake here are at least half a million jobs and the tax revenues which will contribute more than anything else to replenishing the Exchequer after this recession. More from Times article here
And also from The Times: ‘It’s déjà vu all over again as Sarkozy takes aim at City of London’
Excerpt: Napoleon Bonaparte scorned England as “a nation of shopkeepers”, but he knew it was the vitality of the City of London that made Britain such a threat to his imperial ambitions.
The feeling was mutual. The City, fearful of a European ruler who would cut off their trade, readily funded the war effort that culminated in Napoleon’s downfall.
A proposed EU directive covering the workings of Britain’s private equity industry is also entering a key phase in negotiations.
Yesterday Mr Sarkozy said that the nomination of a French commissioner in charge of EU markets would help continental economic ideals to prevail over the discredited Anglo-Saxon model. In a speech in France the President blamed the reputedly free-wheeling Anglo-Saxon model for the global economic downturn.
The Group of 20 rich and emerging nations had made remarkable strides during the crisis to regulate bonuses and eliminate tax havens, but the battle was not over, Mr Sarkozy said.
“Do you know what it means for me to see for the first time in 50 years a French European Commissioner in charge of the internal market, including financial services, including the City [of London]?” he said of Mr Barnier’s nomination. “I want the world to see the victory of the European model, which has nothing to do with the excesses of financial capitalism.”
Ed: You only have to read the above to see EXACTLY why Monsieur Sarkozy stabbed our man Blair in the back over the EU presidency. Dull, blind or careless as ever to the repercussions of a Blairless EU, the British Conservative party and the Stop-The-War gang combined forces to help plunge the knife in. And to think ANY of them expect us to believe that THEY have Britain’s interests at heart, OR EUROPE’S!
The Times, continues … (my bolding)
His comments met with alarm and dismay in the City. One senior banker said: “Surrendering control of the City of London to the French in return for some nonentity getting a non-job [Baroness Ashton of Upholland’s appointment as EU foreign affairs chief] is one of the biggest fiascos of British diplomacy since Suez. The fact that Sarkozy is now being gleeful makes it worse. The Prime Minister must explain how he will protect the City from EU meddling or lose what remaining credibility he has in the City.”
Sir Victor Blank, the banker and company chairman whose work forms the basis of Britain’s takeover code, told The Times that the “inherent strength” of Europe meant that any changes to financial regulation would take years to implement and that such measures would need the approval of 27 member nations of the EU. “This is not something that will shift and change overnight. It will be subject to debate. The City of London has an innate strength. People want to be here.”
Simon Walker, head of the British Venture Capital Association, whose members are facing onerous proposed regulations from Brussels, said: “This is not a war against capitalism. But there is a need for a much greater degree of subsidiarity which respects the models of different countries.”
He added: “President Sarkozy’s rhetoric is over the top and he is clearly playing to his domestic audience. The free market is deeply entrenched in the British psyche.”
Another senior City source, who declined to be named, said: “Sarkozy’s language is very alarming. If it is a true reflection of Barnier’s approach, that is very bad news for London indeed. Besides, Sarkozy’s analysis is completely wrong. European companies also imploded during the crisis. There is very little evidence that excessive bonuses, however distasteful, caused the crisis themselves.”
Last century, another Frenchman, Charles de Gaulle had a similar antipathy for the Square Mile, which he made clear in the 1960s when he withdrew his country from the Gold Pool, the London-based reserve designed to stabilise currencies by tying them to the value of gold.
BUT WE’RE ALL RIGHT, LADS
Alistair Darling has delivered a blunt warning to the EU’s new French finance chief against meddling with the City of London.
As Nicolas Sarkozy gloated over impending curbs on the City, the Chancellor said that such moves would drive financial services out of Europe.
The French President’s glee at the appointment of Michel Barnier as Commissioner for the Single Market took on an edge of menace yesterday when he said that unfettered City practices must end.
And here Darling defends bank controls:
Excerpt: Tough new European controls on banks and finance houses will not affect British taxpayers, Chancellor Alastair Darling has insisted. But this new regulation needs EU parliamentary approval. A test for Darling’s red line?
The draft deal, which still needs approval from the European Parliament, sees the creation of three new “European supervisory authorities (ESAs) for the monitoring of financial services across the EU. They are a European Banking Authority, a European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and a European Securities and Markets Authority.
The three will be part of a European System of Financial Supervisors, working in co-operation with national financial regulators.
A statement after the meeting said: “On account of the liabilities that may be involved for the member states, the general approach provides that decisions taken by ESAs would not impinge in any way on the fiscal responsibilities of the member states. Any binding decision taken by the ESAs would be subject to review by the EU Courts.” More here
WOULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED UNDER “PRESIDENT BLAIR”?
NO, OF COURSE NOT! Why do you think he isn’t President Blair?
You dumb or sumpin?
We Brits can twist and turn all we like as we moan about Europe even more than we moan about Blair. But HE was our best chance in Europe. The best chance for Britain AND Europe’s future.
Our hatred of Blair, it seems, was even more destructive than our hatred for Europe. So we ‘killed’ off both of them.
We ALL think we can compartmentalise. We can all double-task too. Can’t we? Er, no. Not when it comes to politics. It has become a playing the man not the ball game. David Miliband used this phrase to criticise the Tories when they said they would not back “President Blair”. Did the Tories listen to Miliband? Did they heck! This was Europe and Blair. Both of which they fear. In other words it was WAR!
Well, it is NOW.
It’s tough to get through to the anti-Blair numbskulls at times. This commenter at The Times “It’s déjà vu article” is an example. Such fools have no idea. No IDEA.
Liz Brown wrote:
Stupid woman! It had nothing to do with Brown. It was a stitch-up, agreed probably months by a Franco/German alliance.
I DO HOPE THE MAIL ETC ARE HAPPY NOW
People came at every issue wearing so many hats. For instance: Did I approve of Blair as PM? Did I approve of his Iraq decision? Am I persuaded that he is the biggest “liar” ever in politics? Do I admire/detest his religiosity? Do I approve of his inclusiveness to all religions, including Islam? Do I want him now “running” the EU? Do I even want the EU? Am I a Tory, a Lib Dem or an Old Socialist?
With all of those considerations, many personal as regards Mr Blair, it is easy to get befuddled as to the way forward for Europe.
And Britain did. Not that it was JUST Cameron’s Tories’ faults. But that smile on seeing Blair’s demise should be wiped clean off their faces now.
The way forward for Britain in Europe was lost to us when we allowed these personal and/or political differences with Blair to get in the way of this kind of question:
What good would it have done for Britain and/or Europe if Blair were now its president?
Daniel Cowling at Nottingham University’s “Impact” site does get it, more or less. With this title – ‘President Blair was the EU’s last hope’, it says what we all know (as the anti-Blair mob love to repeat on other matters.)
“Tony Blair’s failure to land this illustrious and ground-breaking role may well be a major setback for Europe.”
‘I agree that Blair’s Iraq war legacy and his reputation for spin were blemishes on Blair’s claim for the presidency, yet he held what no other candidate did: prestige, being described as an EU president who could ’stop traffic’. Familiar in the world of politics, and known for his charisma and enthusiasm, Tony Blair has been one of the highest paid speakers in the world since retiring from British politics, and people do not usually pay huge sums of money to hear someone they actively despise talk to them.
The idea that Blair has no credibility in politics, or evokes negative sentiment from most people when they reflect on his tenure as Prime Minister, is simply untrue. Someone of Blair’s standing was exactly what the EU needed. He would have given the impression of a world-leading and respectable organisation, instead of a bureaucracy with more interest in the curvature of a banana than meaningful policy. With adequate resources, he may well have actually created a more cohesive and effective partnership in Europe, leading to the entity as a whole being regarded as a major world force in a way that no European country has managed since the growth of America as a world superpower.
Henry Kissinger once famously asked whom to call if he wanted to call Europe. If the European Union wanted somebody with clout to pick up that phone, then choosing Van Rompuy, a political lightweight whose biggest asset was his lack of enemies, is an undoubted mistake. The European Union presidency has the potential to be one of the most important positions on the international scene, and while our former Prime Minister may not have been perfect, he had the star quality to turn the EU into a coherent and well-respected body on the world stage. Instead the union is left with an increasingly uncertain political future, stemming from a president with no international – or even European – prestige.
Jump back to where you came from
And Jorge Heine, academic on governance, is clearly disappointed that Blair is not on the other end of the phone from the USA.
‘The notion that Belgian Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy, the sum total of whose experience in prime time politics is a scarce 11 months in one of Europe’s smallest countries, could defeat Tony Blair, for 10 years British Prime Minister and the only Labour Prime Minister to win three elections in a row, is so counter-intuitive as to be numbing. I do think Mr. Blair made a serious mistake in Iraq, and I do have many misgivings about the intellectual cover he provided to President George Bush’s wrong-headed approach to the so-called “war on terror.”
But the fact remains that Mr. Blair is one of the great political figures of our time, a giant among the candidates for the EU presidency (a close contender was Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg; I am not making this up). Mr. Blair’s profile was also ideal for the job. A man from the centre-left, he gets along with the right — so much so that at one point both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw their weight behind him. He knows the United States well, and is widely respected there; he has recently launched his “Faith and Globalisation Initiative” with Yale University. He would have opened many doors in the Global South, where people know his incisiveness as a policy wonk, his eloquence as a communicator and his ability to get things done.
As a Brit, he could have been an honest broker between the two European heavyweights, France and Germany, while also considering the interests of smaller states. With Britain not being part of the Eurozone, Mr. Blair was also a compromise between the all-out federalists and the Euro-sceptics. In this age of fraught relationships between religion and politics, he is that rara avis in secular Britain — a politician who takes his religion seriously, so much so that he recently converted to Catholicism. At 56, he is still young, with plenty of energy and adrenaline for building up the EU. Mr. Blair was also available, something which cannot be said of another outstanding potential candidate, Felipe Gonzalez, former Prime Minister, who ruled Spain for 14 years.
Mr Blair will thus continue to deploy most of his enormous talent as Middle East envoy, as well as at his Faith Foundation, his African Governance Initiative and at making obscene amounts of money at Tony Blair Associates — all endeavours which, though enough to keep a dozen men busy 24×7, still underutilise his capabilities.”
(Jorge Heine holds the Chair in Global Governance at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, is Professor of Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University and a Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Ontario.)
RELATED, MORE OR LESS
Telegraph: In an interview, Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, who at the time advised the Prime Minister not to go to the country, admitted that in retrospect Labour should have taken a gamble in the autumn of 2007.
David Cameron, the Conservative leader, privately admits that he was dreading the prospect of an election in 2007, for which he was not ready and which, had it been lost, could well have eliminated the Tories as a serious prospect for government for a generation.
The Prime Minister has admitted that he was wrong to allow speculation to build that he would go to the country early, saying: “Yes, I did consider holding an election. Yes, I looked at it.
“My first instinct, if I were honest with all of you, was that I wanted to get on with my job of putting my vision of what the future of the country was to the people of the country and deliver on it before there was ever an election.”
Ed: What do you mean, Mr Brown, “if I were honest with all of you”? Aren’t you always?
Many Labour insiders are frustrated that the party will now be forced to fight an election at a time when the country is only just beginning to emerge from the worst recession since the Great Depression.