Posts Tagged ‘Angela Merkel’

EU Commission President Tony Blair?

May 27, 2014

27th May 2014

My twitter account

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El Presidente Blair?

Not that I’m holding my breath or feeling TOO expectant as to the likelihood of the prospect, but just in case, this is to let the usual suspects know they heard it first on my twitter page.

WHO CAN STOP NIGEL FARAGE,  HIS ANTI-IMMIGRATION & ANTI-EU PARTY & SIMILAR PARTIES ACROSS THE EU?

Can this man stop Farage, Ukip et al? More than a few of us think so.

TB _europe_star

Jose Manuel Barroso is about to step down as EU Commission President.  We just felt an “earthquake” across Europe this last weekend. kilroywashere4The multifarious anti-ists regarding the EU project are now no doubt askance with a “why bother?” as this continent searches for a replacement President. Our UKIP MEPs in Britain are probably too busy to notice. They are in full attack mode. Their strategy? To get in there, wreck the joint and leave a note saying “Kilroy Farage was here”.

After the car crash of anti-EU-ism at the weekend and this “Third Man” mention from Christian Thams on twitter

Schulz says me or Juncker as EU Commission President, not a third candidate. Rumours in Berlin say Merkel looks for ‘Third Man’

… I felt it was time to write something.

Like a lot of us, I spent much of the “count” night watching in puzzled bemusement. I thought Mr Thams’ tweet timely, and tweeted my own thoughts on it. My tweet went virtually unnoticed. It got 1 RT from and I faved it for future reference:

I had actually pre-empted that thought in a reply to Harry Vaughan’s tweet, at 1:18am –

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And I pointed up the thought again in a reply to Dennis, with the Farage/Blair video link at 2:41am –

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CHEWING THE CUD AT BRUSSELS

Now, as I write, the rumours are getting warmer still. EU Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chancellor Merkel et al are chewing the cud at Brussels tonight. With the realisation that France’s position after the EU elections’ euro scepticism is even more threatening to EU unity, perhaps to its very future, than is Britain’s UKIPism, the time may well have come for Ms Merkel to turn to the man she reportedly derided as “Mr Flash” last time an EU (Council) Presidency post was up for grabs.  Word is that she has thrown her support behind Jean-Claude Juncker, the recently defeated Luxembourg prime minister. He too was mooted as a contender in the 2009 EU Council Presidency race.

From Dave Keating at 4:52pm, today, 27th May –

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COULD FRAU MERKEL WARM TO MR FLASH?

The complexities of the in-house limited voting for the Commission President and the Commission members themselves will not ease the pain or anger of those who insist there is no TRUE democratic accountability or choice for us mere voters. The principle, as from Treaty of Lisbon days, is that the group of parties with most electoral support has preference for its nominated candidate. However there have been anti-EU votes from ALL sides, left to right. A certain third way Blairite, the original, could span this breadth with comparative ease and incomparable political nous and productive diplomacy. We should remember that across Europe there are more senior politicians in the Blair mould than ever before, notably France’s beleaguered President Francois Hollande and Italy’s ambitious and new self-declared Blairite Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Such individuals will throw their thoughts into the ring.

Tony Blair has been all over the media today here at home. From BBC Radio 4’s Today (listen here) to BBC’s News 24 (here) to Huffington Post (here). There is no doubt his profile is presently on the rise. That may not be due simply to post-election questions hanging over the leadership Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron.

There is little doubt that should a referendum under a future Tory government as promised by David Cameron result in an “OUT” vote, the rest of the EU would be up the creek without a paddle. Whether we Brits like it or not the UK is one of the three main countries in the Union. Angela Merkel will know this better than anyone, as she watches France’s keenness on “the project” falter even under a socialist leader like Hollande.

EU Commission

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The election of EU Commission & President at a glance [click here]

JUNE:

THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL DECIDES ON ITS PROPOSAL FOR A CANDIDATE FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION
(by qualified majority)
JULY:
The candidate negotiates with Parliament’s political groups to get backing from a majority of members
 
ELECTION OF THE COMMISSION PRESIDENT BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT by a majority of its component members (at least 376)

__________

Clearly nothing will be decided over the foie gras tonight. Today’s statement on the Commission President Election at the European Parliament website at 1:19m said:

The candidate of the largest Group Mr. Jean Claude Juncker will be the first to attempt to form the required majority.

__________

From – British Influence, The Campaign to Keep Britain in the EU comes this (uploaded yesterday. No mention of Tony Blair)

Neither of the current frontrunners for the Presidency – the centre-right’s Jean-Claude Juncker and the centre-left’s Martin Schulz – is inspiring. One or other of these so-called Spitzenkandidats might be fine if the EU needed the status quo. They might be OK if the EU needed another integration drive, as both are federalists. But neither is suited to the task of decentralising power and boosting competitiveness.

This group will surely recognise which inspiring European (and world statesman) IS suited to decentralising power and to boosting competitiveness.

Only time will tell if those with the power to decide on the incumbent for the next 5 years of this important position act wisely. Europe – this is not a time to opt for a second MR NOBODY.

VOTE TONY BLAIR FOR EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT.

blair_merkel_kissfrommrflash

For Europe’s future!

You know it makes sense.

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Blair: “It is time to wake up” and have “an honest debate” about … something or other

November 13, 2010
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    13th November, 2010

    TONY BLAIR’S NARRATIVE ON ISLAMIST TERRORISM

    THE HINTS, NODS AND WINKS

    Excellent opinion piece, joining the dots. Admittedly I am still a little uncertain as to what EXACTLY we are meant to have an “honest debate” about.  If we are really being honest I suggest there are two important words missing. More on them later. Perhaps you’ll even identify them before you get to the end.

    Clue: they are not “western imperialism”.

    Tony Blair speaking at McGill University, Montreal, at the Canadian launch of his Faith Foundation course. He said that future leaders must understand the role of religion.

    Picture above from Montreal’s CTV website

    This article by Tony Blair at the Wall Street Journal is, regardless of my remaining provisos, truly ground-breaking.

    Why? Not because it questions how multiculturalism has or hasn’t worked in Britain, though it does that; obliquely.

    “In the United Kingdom, immigration was a key issue in the last election.”

    Nor because it refers to Islamist extremism/terror, which it does, more or less, when many in governments, politics and the media still choose despite the daily evidence to describe it as “international extremism/terror”. This particular extremism’s paternity is highlighted, albeit by inference.

    “We will not defeat extremism (and the fear it then produces in our societies) until we defeat its narrative. This narrative is Islam as a victim of the West, locked in an inevitable cultural conflict with it.”

    Nor because he seems to ask indirectly the Muslim majority to stand up and be counted. Those who, presumably, eschew terrorism.

    “It is about the failure of one part of the Muslim community to resolve and create an identity that is both British and Muslim. And I stress part of it.”

    After which gentle reminder he elaborates, as often before (see “defeating the narrative”)  –

    “This narrative is global. Its ideology is global. It has to be confronted as such. But we are nowhere near doing that. It is funding websites, training its adherents, spreading its message. It is conducting a campaign, occasionally by violence, often by propaganda.”

    He also referred to this recently:

    “We should wake up to the absurdity of our surprise at the prevalence of this extremism. Look at the funds it receives. Examine the education systems that succour it. And then measure, over the years, the paucity of our counter-attack in the name of peaceful co-existence. We have been outspent, outmanoeuvred and out-strategised.” Warning that it was impossible to defeat extremism ”without defeating the narrative that nurtures it”, Blair added:  ”We think if we sympathise with the narrative – that essentially this extremism has arisen as a result, partly, of our actions – we meet it halfway, we help the modernisers to be more persuasive. We don’t. We indulge it and we weaken them. Worse, a reaction springs up amongst our people that we are pandering to this narrative and they start to resent Muslims as a whole.”

    This, as is to be expected by the tying themselves in knots anti-Iraq war brigade was beyond David Hughes at The Telegraph. It isn’t beyond most of us, Mr Hughes.  The most important part for me in the quote used by David Hughes, is the phrase I have emboldened above. You, Mr Hughes, are part of that denial system. You have morphed your dislike of Blair’s decision on Iraq into a denial of any threat from Islamist terrorism. You are not alone.

    WHY ‘GROUNDBREAKING’?

    So why, since he has said much of this before, do I say this is a groundbreaking article?

    Also to be seen at his own website it is ground-breaking for at least two reasons.

    One, because he is saying it. He hasn’t always spoken in this way; not entirely. Though he has to an extent on the issue of “This Terrorism.” At his final address to conference, September 2006 his speech was hailed as probably his best.  If you haven’t read it, do so now, please. I called it and him, ‘Simply The Best’. This was more than four years ago. (To save you clicking away I’ll add the relevant excerpt here below.)

    Two, because few of influence or power in British politics ever mentions anything like this in anything like such an expansive manner. They haven’t in recent years, and they don’t now. But Blair did so, at least to a “heads up” extent some time ago. He was right then and he is even more right now.

    [Above picture from The Religion of Conquest]

    Excerpt from a linked and extensive article on Islam, sourced from Catholic.com – Endless Jihad

    ‘Muslim apologists also rushed forward to assure the public that Islam was a peaceful religion. They disingenuously declared that the word Islam means “peace.” And they tried to portray the terrorists as a fringe group outside the mainstream of Islam.

    These were lies.

    The usual meaning of Islam in Arabic is not “peace” but “submission.” And if the terrorists were so far outside the mainstream, why did Muslims all over the world burst into joyful, spontaneous celebrations when the hijacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Why are Islamic governments afraid to show “too much” public support for the war against terrorism? Further, why are all the governments that covertly support terrorism centered in the Muslim world?

    The truth is that Islam is not a religion of peace. This is not to say that every Muslim is violent at heart. Many are not. Muslims have the same.aspirations for living peaceful lives that people have the world over. But they also have the same potential for violence as others, and Islam as a religion and an ideology seeks to exploit that potential.

    Though there are millions of Muslims who want peaceful relations with the West, millions who.aspire to live in free societies like America, there nevertheless remains a deep and powerful strain of violence within Islam, and it is important that Americans understand it.

    They will have to face it in the future.’

    More here on The Muslim Worldview, where the two missing words ARE mentioned.

    BUT FIRST – PARTING COMPANY WITH MR BLAIR’S PIECE – in one and a half ways

    So, despite my praise for his breaking cover on the whole issue of who is to blame for Islamist terrorism, I am not in full agreement with Mr Blair on ALL of this. Nor do I think that he has gone far enough.  Fortunately, he expects this. He acknowledges that we are never satisfied , whichever side of  the fence we are on. Where do I differ with him?

    1. WHAT KIND OF ‘PHOBIA’?

    From this side of the fence, I disagree fundamentally that Geert Wilders’ party is “Islamophobic” as Mr Blair describes it.  I do not claim that Wilders’ party does NOT fear the continuing, seemingly relentless rise and influence of Islam, nor that it aims to stop this particular immigration.  Nor do I argue that stopping Muslim immigration is Wilders’ party’s USP. It clearly is. He says that he wants “less Islam in Europe”.

    But Mr Blair will know that a phobia is an irrational fear.

    See – Telegraph: Geert Wilders is not ‘far right’

    The use of the word “Islamophobic” in reference to Mr Wilders is as misleading as is the word “racist” towards those who feel visceral and even general distrust of Muslims, for some reason or another. And let’s start by admitting that there are plenty of reasons.

    It is hardly a "phobia" when they're out to kill you

    There is nothing irrational about the fear of Islamist terror.  Nor, while this terrorism continues and also continues NOT to be disowned by the majority of Muslims worldwide in a COMBINED, CO-ORDINATED AND CONCERTED effort, is there anything irrational about fearing Islam itself. The two are kind of, sort of … linked, to the rational amongst us.

    We cannot hope to halt “irrational” fears, phobias or even rational fears from any and every source for many and varied reasons until we recognise that these fears are multi-faceted. We need to start naming and dealing with each and all of those facets.

    2. “OCCASIONAL” VIOLENCE?

    Another difference I have with Mr Blair is this: “It is conducting a campaign, occasionally by violence, often by propaganda.”

    “Occasionally” by violence”? My choice of word would have been “frequently” or even “daily”. Certainly not just “occasionally”. It is often by propaganda, which the west swallows happily. So that’s just a half disagreement.

    Recent violence by Islamist terrorists, thanks to the Religion of Peace website, which logs such violence.

    A child is stretchered to hospital after an attack by Islamist extremists

    A few recent examples of Muslim/extremist/fundamentalist/Islamist/Islamic (or whatever we’re permitted to call it) violence listed below. There will be more by the end of the day, I’m sure:

    2010.11.11 (Peshawar, Pakistan) – A women and her daughter are among three people crushed to death in their own home by a Taliban rocket attack.
    2010.11.11 (Makhachkala, Dagestan) – Muslim rebels attack and kill seven cops.
    2010.11.10 (Mosul, Iraq) – A young girl is taken down by Muslim gunmen.
    2010.11.10 (Iskandariya, Iraq) – Mujhideen murder three brothers with a bomb hidden at a water pump.
    2010.11.10 (Baghdad, Iraq) – Islamists blast Christian areas of Baghdad with bombs and mortars, killing at least six.
    2010.11.10 (Pattan, India) – Islamic militants brutally shoot two security personnel to death at point blank range in a market.
    2010.11.09 (Pattani, Thailand) – A 17-year-old boy is ambushed and killed by Mujahideen.
    2010.11.09 (Narathiwat, Thailand) – A woman is gunned down by Islamic insurgents.
    2010.11.09 (Uruzgan, Afghanistan) – Religious extremists attack a police station, killing at least seven inside.
    2010.11.09 (Pattani, Thailand) – A Buddhist man is murdered by Muslim gunmen.

    WHERE IS THE CHILD?

    Just because Christmas is approaching, DON’T PANIC at this sub-heading.  I’m not gazing at the stars for a new christ-child, or Muslim equivalent. But some of you will know that Islam permits a child to preach to men. (Never a female child, and not preaching to women, of course).

    So, where is the Muslim child who given his mosque platform will stand up in Friday prayers and say – “a worldwide caliphate is NOT what Allah instructed when he spoke to the Messenger”?

    Hmmm?

    An older authority will do? Anyone?

    Today’s news is that Syrian-born Omar Bakri Mohammed, Hizb ut-Tahrir founder, aka known as the “Tottenham Ayatollah”, who left Britain after 7/7 in 2005 and was then banned from returning, has been found guilty in Lebanon of raising money for Al Qaeda. He was found guilty in his absence. Absent of course, because like the now imprisoned would-be murderer of a British MP, he is above “manmade law” – nice one! His reaction to his sentence and the court in Lebanon is an example of how powerful this “child” will need to be.

    Sharia law, the unman-made law, insists that no Muslim is accountable to any law imposed by one’s human peers.

    It seems, according to this handy bit of widely quoted Koranic scripture passed from the unquestionable prophet Mohammed, that only Allah has legitimate power over the whole of the world. A useful cop-out, don’t you think? And here’s another one:

    No-one is permitted, by order of The Messenger, to question the Messenger’s relay of Allah’s words.

    But Omar Bakri’s sentence is interesting. Anjem Choudary next? Can we send him on an extended holiday to Lebanon where they seem to recognise a would-be terrorist/inciter far easier than we do?

    As for how much further I think Mr Blair should have gone, there are (at least) these two –

    JIHAD AND CALIPHATE

    The two missing words are JIHAD and CALIPHATE.

    Without mentioning these we have even not started the debate.

    Where in this article is Mr Blair tackling the fundamentalists’ calls for caliphate AND world-wide domination AND the, presumably preceding and oft-called for jihad against all infidels and kufars, non-Muslim or not? Where is he saying expressly that imams with global power need to discuss this and get the message out that they do not accept either of these Koranic calls?

    Yes, I realise it is difficult for him. His Faith Foundation is pledged towards love and understanding across and between faiths. He is not in a position, and probably doesn’t want to soundly and roundly cast aspersions on one religion.

    But if Tony Blair does not articulate this, who will? Certainly not either of our present so-called leaders, Cameron or Clegg.

    So, in recognising that this religion has, counter-intuitively a democratic setup where a child can preach to a man … again I ask:  Where is the child?

    Omar Bakri Muhammad (Wikipedia)

    A MESSAGE FOR BRITAIN OR THE WORLD?  OR BOTH?

    Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the opinion piece is that it seems to focus largely on Britain.

    “This approach is to distinguish clearly and carefully between the common space, shared by all citizens, and the space where we can be different.”

    However, the section below can be read as having British AND International application.

    “But there has to be a shared acceptance that some things we believe in and we do together: obedience to certain values like democracy, rule of law, equality between men and women; respect for national institutions; and speaking the national language. This common space cannot be left to chance or individual decision. It has to be accepted as mandatory. Doing so establishes a clear barrier between those citizens of the host community who are concerned for understandable reasons and those who are bigoted.”

    Although a former prime minister, Tony Blair is no longer even an MP. His post-premier international responsibilities, notably as representative of the Quartet in the Middle East peace process, had seemed to me to have imposed on him a purdah as regards opining on Islam. Perhaps even self-imposed.

    Criticised here some time ago by a commenter that he/she “preferred me when I was just praising Tony Blair” I have not shied away from criticising him when I have felt that he has been less than frank about Islamist fundamentalist terror. (Let’s stop pussyfooting around with “international” or worse just “terrorism”.)

    It is gratifying to notice that he, with a wide circle of friends, colleagues and like-minds in the Islamic world is putting down clearly some of the battle lines that should be drawn.  For some time I feared that his worthy battle for Faith & Understanding would continually rebut and limit his instinct to identify the issues for fear of upsetting good Muslim friends and so distancing them. I am relieved to find that is not so, or that it is no longer so.

    As he asks in his memoirs ‘A Journey’, referring to the Brown and Obama dropped expression ‘war on terror’“if this is not a war, what is it?”

    It is probably no coincidence that as David Cameron has just been visiting China, “The Master” (as Blair is described, it seems, by David Cameron and George Osborne) Mr Blair has announced that his Faith Foundation has teamed up with Peking University. This, as well as McGill University in Canada. At his site he lists “Seven ways to advance religious harmony in China and around the world”

    Mr Blair also says –

    ‘Most people instinctively understand the right approach to integration. We just have to articulate and enforce it. This approach is to distinguish clearly and carefully between the common space, shared by all citizens, and the space where we can be different. We have different faiths. We practice them differently. We have different histories, different cultures and different views. Some citizens will genuinely and properly not like some of the more liberal tendencies of Western life. We can differ over this.’

    While, of course I agree with most of this, I am not so sure if we can differ over this any more. We have differed for years, decades even and shrugged along nicely until recently. Today we are in a different place.

    It’s called Precaliphacy. On the roadmap it comes just after Failed Multiculturalism and just before Disintegration.

    Tony Blair’s full Wall Street Journal opinion piece follows:

    _______________

    Making Muslim Integration Work

    By TONY BLAIR

    “Right now, virtually anywhere in Europe, elections can turn on debates over immigration and integration. In Sweden, extreme anti-immigration parties have gained a foothold in parliament for the first time. In Holland, the anti-immigrant and Islamaphobic Party for Freedom is now the third-largest, ahead of the traditional conservative Christian Democrats. In France and Belgium, debate rages over state bans of the veil, and Italy may be next.

    In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that multiculturalism had failed. In the United Kingdom, immigration was a key issue in the last election. Even in Switzerland, voters last year approved a referendum banning minarets, to the surprise of practically the whole European intellectual and political elite.

    This is a big and growing issue, and it cannot be understood simply in terms of cultural questions about immigration.

    In Pakistan last year, terrorism killed around 3,300 people—more than in Afghanistan. Such violence scars many other countries, including Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and more. In the conflict in Mindanao, in the Philippines, 150,000 have been killed. This violence is bound up with all sorts of political and regional disputes, but it feeds into the European alarm that immigration, terrorism, religious faith and ethnicity are all dimensions of the same problem.

    The danger, certainly in Europe, is very clear. Especially in tough economic times, this issue can inject division, sectarianism and even racism into societies based on equality. Traditional political parties get trapped. Either they pander, but of course they can never pander enough; or they seem in a state of denial and condemn themselves to the position of out-of-touch elites. The backlash grows. The center ground becomes diminished.

    We have to nail down the definition of the problem. There is no general failure to integrate. In the U.K., for example, we are not talking about Chinese or Indians. We are not talking about blacks and Asians. This is a particular problem. It is about the failure of one part of the Muslim community to resolve and create an identity that is both British and Muslim. And I stress part of it. Most Muslims are as much at ease with their citizenship in the U.K. as I am. I dare say that is true in other European nations too.

    However, some don’t integrate. But when we talk about this in general terms, without precision, for fear of “stigmatizing” Muslims, we alienate public opinion and isolate the majority of Muslims who are integrating and want to be as much part of our society as any other group. Then, because we won’t identify the problem as it is, a subterranean debate takes the place of an open one, and that debate lumps all Muslims together. So in the interest of “defending” the Muslim community, we actually segregate it by refusing to have an honest debate about what is happening.

    Most people instinctively understand the right approach to integration. We just have to articulate and enforce it. This approach is to distinguish clearly and carefully between the common space, shared by all citizens, and the space where we can be different. We have different faiths. We practice them differently. We have different histories, different cultures and different views. Some citizens will genuinely and properly not like some of the more liberal tendencies of Western life. We can differ over this.

    But there has to be a shared acceptance that some things we believe in and we do together: obedience to certain values like democracy, rule of law, equality between men and women; respect for national institutions; and speaking the national language. This common space cannot be left to chance or individual decision. It has to be accepted as mandatory. Doing so establishes a clear barrier between those citizens of the host community who are concerned for understandable reasons and those who are bigoted.

    Concerns about illegal immigration have a lot to do with the notion that the system can be gamed, played, or swindled by some who are hostile to the host community they seek to penetrate. Ensuring that there are rules, strictly enforced—and in Europe’s case, these could be pan-European as well as national—is not anti-immigrant. It is, in fact, the only way to protect the idea that immigration, properly controlled, is of enormous benefit.

    We will not defeat extremism (and the fear it then produces in our societies) until we defeat its narrative. This narrative is Islam as a victim of the West, locked in an inevitable cultural conflict with it.

    This narrative links justifiable sentiments (whether you agree with them or not)—anxiety about injustice to Palestinians, dissent over military action in Afghanistan or Iraq, anger about Kashmir or Chechnya, opposition to regimes supported by the West—with an unjustifiable narrative that defines Islam in a way that is contrary to its true teaching. Those who accept the narrative use their religious faith as a badge of identity in opposition to others. Integration is seen as oppression. Then the backlash is final confirmation that we are indeed in conflict.

    This narrative is global. Its ideology is global. It has to be confronted as such. But we are nowhere near doing that. It is funding websites, training its adherents, spreading its message. It is conducting a campaign, occasionally by violence, often by propaganda.

    The first step in fighting back is to recognize the nature of the struggle. That is why what is happening in Europe today is not some random eruption of anti-immigrant sentiment that will subside as fast as it has arisen. We have seen many of those before. This is different: deeper, more dangerous than any in recent years, and ultimately connected to what is building in the rest of the world. It is time to wake up.”

    Mr. Blair was prime minister of Great Britain from 1997 to 2007.

    _______________

    Article also at Tony Blair’s Office

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    OTHERS’ THOUGHTS ON THIS OPINION PIECE

    1. Conservative In The Closet says ‘Tony Blair grows pair’. Perhaps he can show his followers, such as Cameron, Osborn and Hague how to do the same.

    2. Shiraz Maher at Standpoint Mag says: “Tony Blair has written a fantastic piece for the Wall Street Journal about ‘making Muslim integration work’. As ever, it is spot on. His piece reminds us of the clarity and sense of purpose which pervaded his administration, and which is so desperately lacking today.”

    And by the way, it is RIGHT to say you miss him. Wish more of us would own up to that.

    3. Caroline Glick, referring to Blair’s piece, says that the USA too needs to address “the enemies within”

    4. A. Jay Adler, at Sad Red Earth, has this on ‘Tony Blair on Muslim integration’

    “Many British seem determined to make of Tony Blair what the Russians have of Mikhail Gorbachev – a greatly significant leader better appreciated outside his country than within it. Below, published on his official website, Blair demonstrates the frank and clear-sighted vision missing from so many who are blinded either by baseness or dull orthodoxy.”

    5. At the CTV News report are some Q&A points. Interesting. For instance, on Lauren Booth and on polygamy in Britain. His answer to the latter is interesting, but begs the question – why are there so many immigrant polygamists in Britain, often claiming social benefits for multiple families? THEY need to be banned from multiple marriage and those already multiple-wed DEPORTED, British citizens or not. Allowing them and their wives into Britain in the first place WAS a BIG error.

    ‘Ironically, Blair’s visit to Montreal comes shortly after his sister-in-law announced her conversion to Islam, calling on him in the British press to change his presumptions about the Muslim faith. Lauren Booth, a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq and former reality show contestant, accused Blair of believing Muslims are bad.

    Blair and an adviser smiled ruefully Friday when Booth’s name was raised and, after pointing out she was his wife’s half-sister, the former prime minister said he would stick to his stock reply when it came to her.

    “My reaction is always the same to what she says, which is she’s entitled to her views.”

    And – “My point is very simple — if you want to be a leader today, in politics, in business, in civic society, you cannot be religiously illiterate,” Blair said. “You’ve got to know about it. You may not agree with it, you may not even like it but you’ve got to know about it.”

    And – ‘Blair […] said he felt that when he was in office he could have used advice and assistance from the academic world in framing the intellectual debate around religious and cultural issues.  “This is complicated and profound stuff about the nature of our society,” he said, noting similar debates are going on all over the world.’

    And – ‘The former Labour leader only seemed flummoxed on one question during the event, when he was asked by a Montreal reporter whether polygamy would ever be legalized in Britain.

    He said he didn’t think it would ever happen in his country, adding, “My wife wouldn’t be very happy about that.”

    Meanwhile, and of course purely coincidental to Blair’s visit, the Canadian PM Stephen Harper has moved to delay withdrawing Canadian troops from Afghanistan until 2014, despite earlier election promises. Another politician seeing the light and understanding the responsibilities of office.

    _______________

    “THIS TERRORISM…”

    By the way, while putting this together I read his 2006 speech again and thought I should include a little. It is part of Tony Blair’s last speech to his party conference as leader and PM, September 2006:

    “And of course, the new anxiety is the global struggle against terrorism without mercy or limit.

    This is a struggle that will last a generation and more. But this I believe passionately: we will not win until we shake ourselves free of the wretched capitulation to the propaganda of the enemy, that somehow we are the ones responsible.

    This terrorism isn’t our fault. We didn’t cause it.

    It’s not the consequence of foreign policy.

    It’s an attack on our way of life.

    It’s global.

    It has an ideology.

    It killed nearly 3,000 people including over 60 British on the streets of New York before war in Afghanistan or Iraq was even thought of.

    It has been decades growing.

    Its victims are in Egypt, Algeria, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Turkey.

    Over 30 nations in the world.

    It preys on every conflict.

    It exploits every grievance.

    And its victims are mainly Muslim.

    This is not our war against Islam.

    This is a war fought by extremists who pervert the true faith of Islam. And all of us, Western and Arab, Christian or Muslim, who put the value of tolerance, respect and peaceful co-existence above those of sectarian hatred, should join together to defeat them.”

    Back to where you were, before being led astray, as it were
    _______________

    So, not exactly a new discovery. But when will we in the west, especially Britain, understand that Tony Blair was and still is right? Perhaps when I manage to trace down a YouTube video of Anjem Choudary, Omar Bakri’s right-hand man here in Britain. In that video, which sadly I failed to save when I first saw it, there is an excerpt from the 1980s. Even then Choudary talks of Jihad and Caliphate. Once seen even unbelievers may just be persuaded that Islamist extremism/terrorism isn’t Bush’s and Blair’s doing. (See Arrest Anjem Choudary)

    _______________

    RELATED ARTICLES

    Readers may not enjoy or even agree with many of the links above. But we should thank Mr Blair for finally raising this as an issue. Clearly there is some way to go. A commenter here today at another post provides food for thought.

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    Recent comments:

    “All countries need a leader who isn’t afraid to fight terrorism. I believe Mr. Blair did a necessary job in helping his allies. Are we all just supposed to lie down and wait for them to come for us, I don’t think so.”

    And – “Mr. Blair is one of the finest politicians to have had the privilege of serving the United Kingdom, and Britons are fortunate to have had him as their Prime Minister. Time will show that Mr. Blair’s approach to affairs in the Middle East were and remain correct. From a member of the Commonwealth, thank you, Mr. Blair, for your continued service to legitimate and lasting (and not convenient or politically expedient) freedom.”

    AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”

    AND – “I am sick and tired of television and radio interviewers asking the same old questions over and over, regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, presumably they hope Mr Blair will let slip some secret information which they would then use against him. History will show if the decision was the right one, (I believe it was) but people must accept that Tony Blair is an honourable man, and made his decision based on the known facts and not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.”



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    Anjem Choudary Vs Usama Dakdok: Jihad Exposed in the USA

    October 17, 2010
  • Original Home Page – And another very early post from this blog
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    17th October 2010

    Click to Buy Tony Blair’s ‘A Journey’

    You may not want to view these videos if you think Obama is the great protector of western values. That said, no-one knows what Britain’s present “leaders” think of anything to do with Islam, fundamental or not. It’s the elephant in the room – better not mentioned. But Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel has surprised us today, saying that multiculturalism has failed.

    I recall Tony Blair saying in 2006 that immigrants must integrate.

    Due to the fact that the British press has long been overrun by Islamist apologists and those who see multiculturalism as a great success story, he could say no more, even if he thought it. Especially since he was on his way out by then.  See 2006 – December 8th – Tony Blair on immigration and the duty to integrate

    Listen to this prize wally asking Christians to “love thy neighbour”. Go away, Choudary! The day you stop calling in LONDON for the death of the Pope, the Queen, our government’s leaders, is the day WE will love you. Sorry, we will consider treating you as though you were human. Love is more precious.

    PEACE BE UPON THEM

    Great stuff here at 2:30: Usama Dakdok puts Choudary in his box. Debating this phrase – sallallahou alayhi wasallam – Dakdok says, “I’m going to show to the world you’re ignorant … How much Arabic do you know, my friend? Do you know what salah means?” After Choudary’s weak response citing “peace be upon him”, Dakdok says, “Study Arabic? I can teach your scholar Arabic … That’s what they taught you, my friend, you do not understand. They taught you this when they make you a baby Muslim.”

    Choudary ums and ahs and tries to bounce the question back to Dakdok, but doesn’t seem to know the meaning of ‘salah‘. He just recites “may the peace and blessings be upon him” (Muhammad).

    An editorial at the Washington Times – Islamic Flag Over The White House – referred to ABC’s This Week and an item starring Britain’s very own proud jihadist Anjem Choudary.

    Excerpt:

    In an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” British radical Muslim activist Anjem Choudary made clear what he and his Islamist brothers have planned for the West. “We do believe, as Muslims, the East and the West will one day be governed by the Shariah,” he said. “Indeed, we believe that one day, the flag of Islam will fly over the White House.” He then quoted a hadith, or saying of Muhammad, as related by 10th-century Muslim scholar Al-Tabarani, that “the final hour will not come until Muslims conquer the White House.” Another version of the saying goes, “A small portion of Muslims will rise and conquer the White House.”

    No link at the Washington Times for the video, but I found the above video and part of a discussion at ABNSAT where there will soon be a new 24-Hour ENGLISH Channel, described as The FIRST channel to reach and teach the English-speaking WEST about the risk of radical Islam and its violent teachings. (E-mail: jihadexposed@abnsat.com)

    Pamella Geller and Robert Spencer also appeared on the programme above, but the clip does not include their contributions.

    I have added below a video or two with them both, so you know who Atlas Shrugs and Jihad Watch bloggers are, Geller and Spencer respectively.

    __________

    Atlas Shrugs: Impromptu Interview with Robert Spencer on Jihad

    Pamela Geller of ‘Atlas Shrugs’  and Robert Spencer of ‘Jihad Watch’.

    __________

    Robert Spencer – The Complete Infidel’s Guide To The Koran (1 of 3)

    Courtesy of David Horowitz Freedom Center

    The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran

    Book Description:

    The Koran: It may be the most controversial book in the world. Some see it as a paean to peace, others call it a violent mandate for worldwide Islamic supremacy.
    How can one book lead to such dramatically different conclusions? New York Times bestselling author Robert Spencer reveals the truth in The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran: not many Westerners know what’s in the Koran, since so few have actually read it — even among the legions of politicians, diplomats, analysts, and editorial writers who vehemently insist that the Koran preaches tolerance.
    Now, Spencer unveils the mysteries lying behind this powerful book, guiding readers through the controversies surrounding the Koran’s origins and its most contentious passages. Stripping out the obsolete debates, Spencer focuses on the Koran’s decrees toward Jews, Christians, and other Infidels, explaining how they were viewed in Muhammad’s time, what they’ve supposedly done wrong, and most important, what the Koran has in store for them.

    Coincidentally I have just started reading Robert Spencer’s “The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran”. It has much of the same content, dissecting the koran and the meaning of Islam, in a similar way to Dakdok in another set of interviews. It also shows how much of Islam comes from the Bible, both Old and New. Meanwhile, remember if you will, that Muslims say that only ISLAM is the true religion, and its precursors – Judaism and Christianity –  were only the warm-up acts. In some weird way only understood in their upside-down thinking what this means is that we were all born Muslims!

    That’s what they say, folks.

    I will publish Usama Dakdok’s videos in another post, and more from Spencer, as I work my way through his book.

    __________

    And here’s another of Choudary – cos I just KNOW you can’t get enough of this waste of a good British birthright.

    Islam is not a religion of peace says Anjem Choudary (CBN News)

    Erick Stakelbeck says: “Political correctness is killing Europe. We need some Muslims to speak up about these issues.

    But it’s good to know that Anjem Choudary is ‘honest’! Don’t you think?

    __________

    Here’s a taster from a man who knows his koran.

    Usama Dakdok – Islam in America Today – 01.flv

    Usama Dakdok is an Egyptian Christian who knows Islam inside and out and in this interview exposes Islam for the violent religion that it is and calls the Church to wake up!
    File 1 of 8

    __________

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    POSTS HERE ON CHOUDARY’S EARLIER ANTICS AND OTHER LITTLE THINGS

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    “Mr. Blair is one of the finest politicians to have had the priviledge of serving the United Kingdom, and Britons are fortunate to have had him as their Prime Minister. Time will show that Mr. Blair’s approach to affairs in the Middle East were and remain correct. From a member of the Commonwealth, thank you, Mr. Blair, for your continued service to legitimate and lasting (and not convenient or politically expedient) freedom.”

    AND – “Tony Blair was the greatest Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the only regret I have he didn’t get my vote as I live in Canada.”

    AND – “I am sick and tired of television and radio interviewers asking the same old questions over and over, regarding the decision to go to war in Iraq, presumably they hope Mr Blair will let slip some secret information which they would then use against him. History will show if the decision was the right one, (I believe it was) but people must accept that Tony Blair is a honourable man, and made his decision based on the known facts and not with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.”

     



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    Sarko’s reward from Angie for helping her “kill off” Tony AND Britain

    November 29, 2009
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    29th November, 2009

    MURDERING BRITAIN AS WELL AS BLAIR

    HAPPY NOW?

    Before we investigate more fully this ‘murder most foul’, MEET BARROSO’S EU COMMISSION 2009-2014. These names and faces ARE important to all Europeans and will become moreso.

    INTRODUCING THE VICE-PRESIDENT

    It may have escaped your notice but Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security,  has without even trying, leapt over REAL political heavyweights to become in a politicised instant the Vice-President of the Barroso EU Commission.

    To paraphrase – never in the field of EU political history has so much been given away to such an unknown by so few. Christmas certainly came early for Baroness Ashton at a personal level. Being in the right place at the right time certainly worked in her case. At a political level, Britain got a pair of socks.

    For Britain to dwell on this Ashton (and Rompuy) mistake for long is counter productive. We are where we are.

    And in any case we would be looking at the wrong mistake. The most significant of Barroso’s new committee for Britain is actually a Frenchman, Michel Barnier, who now runs the portfolio for the Internal Market & (Financial) Services. You may notice that the word “Financial” is omitted at the commission’s official website!

    FT: Brown failed to stop Barroso appointment of Barnier AND British minister says new commission is “ghastly”

    Excerpt, FT: Gordon Brown has failed in a last-ditch attempt to head off a key appointment on the European Commission, giving France a central role in recasting Europe’s post-crisis banking and financial services sector.

    The prime minister pleaded with José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, in a call late on Thursday to strip financial regulation from the coveted internal market portfolio.

    But Mr Barroso rebuffed Britain’s request and instead rewarded months of intense lobbying from Paris by offering the portfolio intact to Michel Barnier, the former French foreign minister.

    A FRENCHMAN WITH ENORMOUS POWER OVER BRITAIN’S ECONOMY

    This gives Barnier enormous power to influence and even shape British economic policy.

    In his quiet moments Brown may actually wish that Blair had sacked him years ago and had taken Britain into the euro, both of which were Blair’s aims, according to Steve Richards via Chris Mullins, via Alan Milburn, a strong Blairite. It has been a steep learning curve for Brown over Europe, undesirable as it was that he was ever in a position to have to learn. The lessons had already been learned by the elected prime minister. With Blair the power should have remained, with the side-effect that Brown could have concentrated at an earlier stage and without distraction on Britain’s economy and on firming up its credentials.

    Geoff Hoon, another committed Blairite, was a name thrown into the EU jobs melting pot – at the last minute – for the post which Ashton took.  Hoon and Mandelson, Blairites both, were favoured by Brown ABOVE Ashton in a vain attempt to keep some Blairism and even Brownism alive, and to lend some authority to OUR representation.  So Ashton was actually our FOURTH choice, after Miliband, Mandelson and Hoon. Fourth in the running don’t even get a bronze medal! But Ashton, for reasons best known to Merkel and Sarkozy, has received gold.

    The Blair-opposing Conservatives, guided mainly by the historical personal grudges of William Hague and a fear that a Blair presidency would strengthen Brown at the next general election, may even be ruing their intransigence over their opposition to the world’s most famous Brit. Instead we now have an unknown Belgian and an even lesser known Brit determining our future. To add to this, a Frenchman renowned for being against Britain’s ideas on the free market.

    How counter-intuitive that the British Tories were instrumental or at the least in as much as they mattered supportive  in the destruction of Blair’s presidency bid and thus Britain’s free market capitalism. And this unprincipled lot want to run our country!?

    (See Tories accuse Brown of selling out the city in deal with France. WOW! Only Brown?)

    There is no doubt, NO DOUBT at all, that Blair as EU President would have been far, FAR better for Britain’s interests, even the Tories’ interests, than will be Rompuy and Ashton.

    The murder most foul was not only of the pro-Europe Blair’s political ambitions but of Britain’s economic ascendancy, an ascendancy put firmly in train by Blair & Brown since 1997.

    Richards: ‘In his diaries Chris Mullin reports a conversation with Blair’s close ally, Alan Milburn, during the build up to war. Milburn told Mullin that after the conflict Blair would be so strong that he would sack Gordon Brown as Chancellor. In Britain war leaders tend to be popular and there was much talk in the immediate aftermath of a “Baghdad Bounce” for Blair.

    Blair led the domestic coalition of support that he felt most comfortable with, partly because he thought he would challenge it once: when he took up what he regarded as his historic mission to join the euro. It was in this context that he was uncharacteristically relaxed about media attacks that portrayed him as “Bush’s poodle”. He told allies: “At least they won’t be able to accuse me of being anti-American when we have the referendum on the euro”.

    Shortly after the war, in the summer of 2003, Blair turned his mind to the euro and was livid when Brown as Chancellor placed impossible obstacles in front of him. He wanted to prove then that he was as much a pro-European as he was pro-Bush.’

    The ongoing debate amongst British economists and the ‘necessary’ cuts many o fthem espouse may more easily throw our economic future into the hands of this non-free marketer.

    THAT should please the Tories no end, I’m sure!

    Murder? You reap what you sow.


    MURDER MOST FOUL

    I realise that many, in their simplistic way, will think that ‘killing off’ Blair sounds like a good idea. But not, perhaps if he takes with him to his political grave Britain’s freedom to prosper, or even to fail at times to prosper. It’s Britain’s freedom to decide on our own economy that it is at stake with the demise murder of Blair’s presidency hopes.

    Let me put my cards on the table. I am, or WAS a committed pro-European. No longer.

    But in the recent “decision” on the top EU posts there has been something afoot within Europe to keep Britain’s economic model at bay as well as keeping the best-known European in the world away from Europe’s power-base.

    For ten years Britain’s economy had been strong. London had become the centre of the free market, even leaving the USA in its wake.  We had attracted business from all corners of the world with our deregulated marketplace. Insurance and finance markets of all shades and from all countries bloomed like never before in the City.

    That was due to the combined if at times uneasy combined guidance of Blair & Brown.

    Then came the collapse of the markets, beginning inside America. It was bound to affect us, the strongest financial centre, more than any others. And so it has. Now it would seem that our EU colleagues wish to use this catastrophe as a reason for calling for regulation in Britain which is anathema to Blair and Brown and presumably British Tories.

    And the widespread ignorance over the workings of the markets and over the new powers  of the EU is such that they may well have a free run at it.

    None of this is to say that those of us who are pro-Europeans were wrong about the whole shooting match of the EU. In principle I still prefer it to the Little Britain mentality on the edges of Europe. But it IS to say that we may have been fooled into believing that despite Britain being known throughout the 27 states as the envied power-house behind economical sustainability we have been hoodwinked into believing it was a fait accompli that OUR model would prevail.

    We were also hoodwinked into believing that the leader that led us to such success and who had the ear of the world would be respected and even used to bring the same changes and success to the rest of Europe.

    It was clearly never thus.

    And today Sarkozy has admitted it here

    Merkel, as usual, is saying little on this. But HER intentions have always been clear:

    1. to keep Germany at the top of the EU economies nudging Britain down, and …

    2. to keep Blair, “Mr Flash” away from the limelight. She couldn’t possibly compete.

    The Franco/German model is likely to be revisited in the future when their model fails, as it likely will. But perhaps not until they have taken Britain down with the international trade and financial plug with them.

    It is most unfortunate that NOW the Tories see the error of their ways and the first major consequence of failing to back Tony Blair as EU president. A side-effect to his role, if president, would have been to show that a free, de-regulated market WAS and IS the way forward. That worry was of immense concern to the regulators in much of the EU.

    So how, when did murder come into it? Well, possibly some months ago when Sarkozy was rumoured to be cooling on Blair and saying something (hardly new) about Britain not being part of the single currency. This was hardly news to the French president and has always been the case, even when he was singing Blair’s praise for the job a year ago.


    Michel Barnier, Britain's new Economic Boss


    WHEN DID BLAIR & BROWN KNOW BLAIR HAD NO CHANCE OF THE EU PRESIDENCY?

     

    Guardian: Merkel rang Blair a week before the EU presidency decision to tell him he would not get the job

    Excerpt:

    The summit concluded quickly on Thursday, but only after weeks of horse trading across the EU and a bitter row in London. Blair told Brown that his chances were over after a second – and decisive – phone call with Merkel late last week. Merkel told Blair she bore him no ill will but that the job would have to go to a leader from the dominant centre right.

    “Tony informed Gordon at the end of last week … that he saw no realistic chance of getting agreement around his candidacy,” a Whitehall source said.

    Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, who heads the EU grouping of Labour and social democratic parties, told the Guardian that Europe’s two big political tribes, the Christian and social democrats, agreed months ago to split the jobs between them. He said Brown had known for some time that Blair had no chance.

    “There was an expectation that at a certain time there should come a change from Downing Street… We all knew it couldn’t be otherwise,” added Rasmussen.

    Senior ministers told Brown that Britain’s interests would be best served by securing a major economic portfolio in the European commission. Brown, who agrees that new legislation on financial services could pose a threat to the City of London, did draw up contingency plans for an economic job: retain trade, or aim for the internal market or competition policy portfolios.

    No 10 had not lost hope that Shriti Vadera, an ex-minister now working for the G20, or the FSA chief Adair Turner might be persuaded to take one of these posts.

    But a second group of ministers advised Brown that an economic job would have played badly in the media after Britain had made such a great play for the presidency. Brown therefore kept Blair’s name in the frame in hope of increasing UK leverage to secure the high representative post.

    “There were two groups in government,” a key figure said. “There was the real world argument – the best interests of the UK are served by securing a strong economic portfolio to protect the City. Then there were the media managers.”

    PRESIDENT & HIGH COMMISSIONER SORTED … BUT …

    YOU DIDN’T THINK IT WAS ALL OVER THEN, DID YOU?

    As the last of the posts are distributed this one position WILL have a HUGE impact on us here in Britain.

    For the first time, the French will now have a position which really could impact badly on us here in Britain. And I say this as a pro-European. Well, I was pro, until now. For the first time a high-powered position on trade, competition policy and internal market for financial services has gone to FRANCE.

    We now have a man who is essentially protectionist, anti-London and anti-market.  This WILL impact badly on Britain’s position in trade, free marketry, financial services.

    Is this what Angie had over Sarko? Is THIS what persuaded him to turn away from Blair?

    GRABBING BRITAIN WHERE IT HURTS AND SQUEEZING HARD

    A commenter at my site, DC, suggests we have been tricked into sacrificing Blair for the High Commissioner job. They were clearly happy to give us that because FRANCE was getting a regulator to limit Britain’s de-regulated market. As well as killing off Blair our political classes across ALL parties have been grabbed by the ***** and squeezed tight.

    It is no wonder that Brown and Blair have been working so closely together. Leadership of  a country which is more concerned about prosecuting a former prime minister than securing its economic interests deserves exactly what it is getting out of the EU settlement.

    NOTHING

    Gordon Brown should have just said “NON! NEIN!”  – If we can’t have Tony in the presidency we don’t want any of these jobs.

    RELATED

    Irish Times: EU fails to think big

    Excerpt:

    For all the earnest talk of bringing the union closer to the 500 million people it serves, the secretive carve-up that brought “le ticket belgo-britannique” to the fore was at odds with the lofty values of transparency and accountability. Far from the best and brightest getting the jobs, the selection became a zero-sum game in which allegiance and political acceptability were overarching concerns. Although this was in many ways inevitable, the outcome prompted bewilderment. “We always knew this would boil down to the lowest common denominator. We didn’t realise the lowest common denominator would be so low,” said one EU source.

    Van Rompuy – a consensus man of noted seriousness, but lacking in political pizzazz – had already emerged as favourite when the campaign of former British prime minister Tony Blair ran foul of European socialists. Six years after Blair aligned himself with George W Bush on the war path to Baghdad, it seems Iraq still rankles badly.

    Yet the vision Blair offered for the presidency of the council was in line with the bloc’s high aim to stand side-by-side with the great powers in global affairs. This was akin to the role foreseen by former French president Valery Giscard D’Estaing, chief promoter of presidency proposal in the political forum whose plans are encapsulated in the Lisbon Treaty. By way of a “modest suggestion” last weekend, Giscard put forth the proposition that EU leaders should imagine their chosen candidate forcefully defending EU positions before Barack Obama or Chinese president Hu Jintao when making their decision.

    The grand vision was brushed away as Van Rompuy’s candidacy gained strength. His favoured status during the latter phase of the race implied most EU leaders had adopted a modest prospect for the post, looking inward rather than outward.

    Robin Oakley, CNN – Europe job was too small for Tony Blair

    Excerpt:

    So why has the EU turned its back on the man who might have supplied the stardust, Tony Blair?

    The simple answer is that for most of the 27 EU leaders, Blair was too big for the job. They feared he would have his own agenda and overshadow them. Many saw him as an over-close ally of America who had divided Europe when he helped George W. Bush to prosecute the Iraq war.

    Others distrusted him as the market-oriented epitome of the Anglo-Saxon model on economic affairs when Europe prefers a more consensual approach with economic social partners.

    […]

    There was also one other key factor in the horse-trading stitch-up process by which the EU leaders made their choice. The other leaders, who can read the opinion polls, have clearly taken the view that Blair’s successor as Labour Party leader and prime minister in Britain, Gordon Brown, is heading for defeat at the general election due in Britain by June of next year.


    MORE RELATED

     

    EU OBSERVER –  on Catherine Ashton – Ms Ashton, who started her political career with an appointment as chair of the Hertfordshire Health Authority has never been elected to public office, with sources saying she was one of three candidates put forward by the UK government, along with current British business secretary Peter Mandelson, and Geoff Hoon, a former defence secretary.

    Eric Joyce, MP:  ‘One reason Ton Blair isn’t EU Overlord’ – the European Socialists’ grudges

    Excerpt:

    I spent a couple of years as Tony Blair’s rep at the Party of European Socialists (PES).  It was led then, as now, by former Danish PM Poul-Nyrup Rasmussen.  […] Tony (and therefore UK Labour, and me)  had supported Guliano D’Amato of Italy against Poul to lead the PES in succession to Robin Cook.  Poul won, and this may have in it’s own way have been significant in Tony Blair’s failure to become EU Overlord yesterday.

    The PES suffers from the fact that for most of the time, most of the members are in opposition, so they’re inclined to indulge themselves.  On the other hand, my role was to ignore not only self-indulgence but also commonsense.  At my last meeting, in Porto, I had to attend a meeting to agree the line the leaders would take at lunch – the biggy of the moment was denying the use of word ‘constitution’ and instead keeping the word ‘treaty’ in the final statement.  I spoke about the ‘importance’ of this point (i.e. for UK Labour) and my finely-honed political instincts told me I may have just swung it.  Er, no, 1-26. Again!  Poul tried to get me to be reasonable (the vote had to be unanimous to I was effectively veto-ing 26 members), as did everyone else, but reason didn’t enter into it.  I suddenly understood why it was me who’d been sent.

    At lunch, the only PES party leader not present was Tony Blair.  John Prescott had turned up, memorably broken his teeth during his televised speech (and, actually, charmed everyone in his utterly inimitable way) and gone off to the dentist.  I was asked to attend the leaders lunch, but had turned up in jeans and T-shirt ready for a speedy departure.  It was descending into farce. A striking aspect of that Porto session, and others in Brussels as I recall, was the striking denunciation of Tony Blair by the PES-group leader in the European Parliament, Martin Schultz.  Frankly, Schultz spoke for the majority of PES member parties – there was a lot of nodding.


    The Qatar Peninsula :

     

    Blair, Middle East envoy since leaving office two years ago, will almost certainly “bounce back” and take another major international role, they said.

    The 56-year-old was at one stage frontrunner for the new European Union job, but was dropped in favour of low-profile Belgian premier Herman van Rompuy, chosen for the new EU job in Brussels on Thursday night. “I think it will be something of a relief,” Professor Richard Whitman of the respected London thinktank Chatham House said, citing two reasons. “The first being the consequences which it would have had for him financially, in terms of loss of earnings… but the second reason would be that he wouldn’t have had anything like the freedom to speak his own mind.”


    EVEN MORE RELATED

     

    So a former French agriculture minister has power over our economy and there is no President Blair to help us.

    But we’re all right.  Barnier says he understands the importance of the City of London to Britain and Europe. Would that be in the same way that Sarkozy understands that Britain and France are no longer at battleships ready state? We are now “the big losers” in Europe, according to Napoleon … Sarkozy.





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    Here SHE is! The New EU President

    November 20, 2009
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    20th November, 2009

    MEET THE NEW EU PRESIDENT

    De-facto "President" Angela Merkel has secured the position she aspired to, without even standing for it. That outcome she shares with the other guy, her frontman, HVR. He too "did not seek" the job he got, whatever it was. Presumably IT sought him. It didn't seek others, who DID seek it. How odd! How peculiarly, suspiciously odd.

    In one fell swoop Ms Merkel has orchestrated the political assassination of her main rival in European politics and landed herself a new job to boot.

    Very impressive.  Some CV, Ms M!

    Tony Blair: Over qualified. The EU presidency job was (by design ... eventually) too small for this, the ONLY qualified candidate.

    WHAT? Pardon? You didn’t actually think that Van Whatsisname had won Tony’s job on merit, did you?  The Belgian who sees his job as administrating and co-ordinating rather than leading? The NOT TONY BLAIR candidate? You didn’t think ….?

    PUR…LEASE!

    This decision, a carve-up, stitch-up, *u*k-up with a consolation prize to Britain thrown in to keep us quiet, is nothing less than DISGRACEFUL.

    If this job was what it was originally meant to be – representing Europe on the world’s stage – there is and was only ONE candidate. His is the body politic left with the knives embedded in its back.

    And the fingerprints …?

    Merkel’s and Sarkozy’s. Once Blair’s friends and colleagues in Europe these two are the perpetrators of this crime.  With the collusion of others maybe, but the Franco-German alliance was the king-making duopoly in this untidy, unsatisfactory and bloody business.

    Blair’s fall in this race was NOT about Iraq, even as some try to “remind” us that it was. Twenty two of the then twenty four EU countries also supported America in Iraq, as referred to here at this blog, at Alastair Campbell’s and at Julie’s.

    It was simply, or at least mainly, that ‘Mr Flash’ was too eye-catching for Ms Merkel to compete with. The job description was only downgraded in the last day or so in order to justify the decision to exclude Blair. For no other reason.

    Merkel had the last flash, and flashed her knife deftly and with deadly accuracy in Blair’s direction.

    Presumably they think that with Rompuy and the other one “a new dawn has broken”. But after each new dawn dusk descends.

    Tonight before dinner in Brussels the dusk set upon Tony Blair’s hopes. I contest that it also set on Europe’s hopes.  In SO-O-O-O many ways.

    WHERE WERE YOU NICOLAS?

    Sarkozy has been particularly quiet as he watched this disaster unfold. Merkel too, as was to be expected, has kept her counsel throughout. But it was Merkel who moved Sarkozy from supporting Tony Blair to propping up a nondescript, unknown Belgian prime minister of one year’s experience. A pen-pusher rather than a top-seat political mover … a stapler-replenisher rather than a phone contact of the powerful.

    Quite what control Merkel has over Sarkozy we are yet to learn.

    Whatever … what EVER … are these people up to, and on OUR behalf, purportedly!?

    And on a personal level, why – if they allow themselves a moment of empathy towards OUR former Prime Minister – why has this betrayal happened yet again to this the most formidable and gifted politician of his generation?

    KEEPING BLAIR OUT OF THIS JOB IS THE WRONG – WRONG – WRONG DECISION

    Was it envy? The personal ambition of others? Lack of understanding of realpolitik? Probably all of these and much more. Whatever the reasons in public, the decision they have made tonight could not be more wrong.

    Congratulations, Europe. You have now lost a pro-Europe Brit.  I DO hope you’re pleased. More  will follow when my fellow-countrymen begin to notice how little impact Van Rompuy and the other one actually make on the world stage. And when they consider what a different Europe and world it would have been with Tony Blair as president.

    Adam Boulton on Sky News tonight put it beautifully. “Right now about 99.9% of Europeans do not know who Van Rompuy is.  By this time next year that’ll be down to … er… about 90%”.”

    Quite.


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    Thoughts on this nonsensical decision


    Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister warned EU leaders against missing a historic opportunity to secure Europe’s place on the world’s stage.

    Perhaps you needed to say it in German, Mr Bildt.




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    ITN’s non-story has died before Blair’s EU candidacy

    November 19, 2009
  • Original Home Page
  • All Contents of Site – Index
  • Is ‘President Blair’ a shoo-in? Yes and No
  • “Ban Blair-Baiting” petition – please sign
  • Why the Iraq war is NO reason to reject President Blair
  • Why the Iraq Inquiry is NO reason to reject President Blair
  • UNDEVELOPING STORY – then – DEVELOPING AGAIN

    Comment at end

    19th November, 2009

    TONY BLAIR IS STILL IN THE EU RACE

    YES, ONCE AGAIN REPORTS OF HIS DEATH HAVE BEEN EXAGGERATED

    After the peculiar “scoop” at ITN’s News at 6:30 last night, which no other mainstream outlet covered, it would seem that Mr Blair’s candidacy is still alive after all.  Coming from a broadcaster rather than a rag some of us actually have to admit to believing it, or at least allowing the report some modicum of respectability.

    The lesson? When it comes to accepting what they say about Tony Blair  – AND YES, I SHOULD KNOW BY NOW – be careful!

    Meanwhile, it seems the Franco-German “deal” has angered some EU countries not “in the loop”, according to The Guardian.

    Angela Merkel announced that Germany and France will 'reach an agreement together.' Photograph: Axel Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images

    Germany and France are to strike a deal on who they want for the coveted post of first permanent European council president, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced today, sparking anger in other European capitals over a feared Franco-German stitch-up.

    With 27 EU leaders going into a special summit tomorrow increasingly at odds over the twin posts of European Council president and EU foreign minister, Merkel stated for the first time that she and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, intended to agree on a common candidate, believed to be Herman Van Rompuy, the Belgian prime minister.

    “Germany and France will reach an agreement together on this issue and not oppose each other,” she said. “We are in contact on this … I am optimistic that we will reach a result tomorrow.”

    Her comment came on a day when Germany’s ambassador to Belgium, Reinhard Bettzuege, broke ranks with the policy of silence on the presidency by stating Berlin’s support for Van Rompuy.

    “Chancellor Merkel and her government are behind Van Rompuy for this job,” he told a Belgian newspaper, De Morgen.

    News of the preferred candidate came as it emerged that the Belgian shares the strong opposition of both Sarkozy and Merkel to Turkey joining the EU.

    In a debate in the Belgian parliament five years ago, Van Rompuy made plain that he viewed the EU as a Christian club with no room for a large Muslim country such as Turkey.

    “Turkey is not a part of Europe and will never be part of Europe,” Van Rompuy said years before he became Belgian prime minister. “The universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey.”

    The EU is divided over Turkey, with France, Germany, and Austria leading hostility to membership, while Britain, Sweden and the east Europeans are strong supporters of Turkey in Europe.

    Van Rompuy’s stated antipathy to Turkey earned him the support today for the EU job from the Vlaams Belang or Flemish Interest party on the extreme anti-immigrant right wing in Flanders.

    But news of a Franco-German alliance triggered anger in some European capitals.

    “We’re not having a replay of the bad old days when the big guys fixed all the deals,” said a Polish official.

    The Poles campaigned for greater glasnost, to open up the contest for the key jobs. But they have now conceded defeat, although they claim to have the support of 10 of the 27 EU countries. “We had a go,” said the Polish official. “We wanted a degree of transparency to address the sceptics. And lots of countries feel that these appointments are just being made over their heads. There’s always been a suspicion about the way these deals are done in the EU. This is a genuine example. It puts everyone to shame.”

    A senior EU official said: “A joint Franco-German candidate will trigger a counter-reaction from the Brits and the east Europeans.” With tempers worsening over the way Europe’s first council president and foreign minister are to be appointed, hopes slumped that there would be any quick breakthrough tomorrow.

    Senior diplomats and officials admitted they did not know how Fredrik Reinfeldt, the Swedish prime minister chairing tomorrow’s summit, was proposing to organise the meeting.

    In days of telephone diplomacy, Reinfeldt has failed to fashion a consensus, but is reluctant to put the divisive appointments to a vote.

    The Dutch prime minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende, was said to have pulled out of the contest. The British insisted they would continue to lobby for former prime minister Tony Blair.

    The British government, clinging doggedly to its campaign to win the presidential post for Blair against the odds, today criticised Van Rompuy for the first time for harbouring “a federalist agenda”, code for favouring European integration at the expense of national government in the EU.


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    Proud to be Tony Blair Supporters … & WHY

    November 8, 2009
  • Original Home Page
  • All Contents of Site – Index
  • Is ‘President Blair’ a shoo-in? Yes and No
  • “Ban Blair-Baiting” petition – please sign
  • Why Iraq is NO reason to reject President Blair
  • The FT: A central European diplomat says that Tony Blair, although not presently favourite for EU president, ‘may come back’ as ‘nothing is excluded.’

    Comment at end

    8th November, 2009

    In case readers get the impression that this is the only blog out there in support of Tony Blair, it’s time to mention a few others.

    And just as a reminder, there follows just some of the reasons WHY his supporters remain loyal. I don’t purport to speak for all the opinions on Tony Blair of all the below-mentioned, of course. But it seems fair to suggest that at least some of these reasons apply in most of these cases. If not, I’m sure they’ll correct me.

    First the WHO.

    Later (here) the WHY.

    WHO ARE SOME OF THE BLOGGERS FOR BLAIR?

    1. There’s the Blair Foundation BlogspotRecent post Europygmies V EU President Blair, Round 2. Another recent post – Full text: Cameron speech on EU – So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. And the latest, Europygmies Round 3, is here.

    Blair Foundation Blogspot links to this reference to the EU’s representation on the IMF Board being reduced to ONE. A suggestion of the EU federalist and present prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker. This man also happens to be a candidate for the EU presidency; useful to know where he’s coming from and where he’d like to take us.

    2. Here at the excellent Against Mainstream Opinion, Puschiii’s present post is titled “The Superstar and the Nobodies”.

    3. Would you Buy it For a Quarter has various writers, on various topics. Caela, one of their contributors,  is a strong Blair supporter.

    MAINSTREAM JOURNALISTS

    There are even mainstream journalists whose pro-Blair credentials are frequently on show. Of these Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul is pre-eminent.  Samples of his writings here – Did Blair betray Britain – answer “No” and here –  Cameron is the New Blair.

    Rentoul along with Oliver Kamm –  Europe’s runners and riders – and Stephen Pollard all signed the Ban Blair-Baiting petition (at the Iraq Inquiry). For me, that marks them out as good guys amongst the generally severely infected ranks of the feral beasts of the British press.

    MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

    To be quite frank I am astonished, although perhaps I shouldn’t be, that there is only one MP – Tom Harris – who makes it clear repeatedly that he is a Blair Supporter. Recently he wrote on Blair, Cameron & Europe. Tom too signed the Ban Blair-Baiting petition. Presumably the rest of the Labour party would just love to see Blair “baited”!

    NOT FORGETTING

    Alastair Campbell’s blog’s raison d-etre, in common with the other above-named journalists, is not specifically in order to support his old friend. But he does so on many occasions, such as here and here.



     

    NOW THE WHY

    WHY his supporters think Blair is the right man to be the first permanent EU Council president.

    LEADERSHIP

    Re-telling the work he did as Prime Minister will never convince those whose opining pales in comparison to Blair’s action. That’s par for the course. But for the more rational among us it is clear that the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, the devolution settlements to Scotland and Wales and his public finance initiatives in health and education will all be lasting monuments.

    On becoming leader in 1994 Tony Blair set about rescuing his party from 18 years in the wilderness. Even before becoming PM he had ditched  Clause 4.

    Watch and hear Blair here in 1990 when he was Shadow Employment Secretary.  Disregard for a moment the rights & wrongs of the ‘closed shop’ debate. Listen to how the masterful Blair frames his attack on then Employment Secretary Michael Howard. Tony Blair, seven years away from becoming PM says, “.. it is wrong because it looks back not forward. We cannot address the challenges of the future through the prejudices of the past.” Ring any bells in today’s EU argument?

    Tony Blair vs. Michael Howard January 1990

    In 1997 he went on to win a landslide victory taking seats the Labour party could only ever have dreamt of under any other leader. This was followed by a second landslide in 2001, but only after Blair had set in train the settlement of the decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland, which was to take all of his ten years as Prime Minister to complete.

    INTERNATIONAL INTERVENTIONS

    Internationally Tony Blair helped lead the battle to free Muslims from Christian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. He rescued thousands from brutal attacks including limb-chopping, rape and murder in Sierra Leone in 2000.

    After  9/11, 2001 Blair stood by America’s side, as ANY British Prime Minister would and should have done.  Britain, was a first mover, true, but was only one of DOZENS of countries to stand by the USA.  Blair’s Britain was NOT alone in supporting “Bush’s America” in its attack in Afghanistan, much as those of selective memories like to claim it was.

    And as for Iraq – the same applied.

    The 2003 invasion of Iraq, (from March 20 to May 1, 2003) was led by the United States, backed by British forces and smaller contingents from Australia, Denmark, Poland and Spain. Four countries participated with troops during the initial invasion phase, which lasted from March 20 to May 1. These were the United States (248,000), United Kingdom (45,000), Australia (2,000), and Poland (194). 36 other countries were involved in its aftermath.

    Some insist that the Iraq invasion was a failure, disaster, or whatever choice descriptive word fits their own agendas. In fact it seems to be dawning on many that in intent, motivation and in outcome it was by far the more successful of the two Middle East wars that the west has recently become engaged in.

    It is extremely odd and peculiarly unbalanced how Blair’s interventions which resulted in peace are seldom recognised in anything like the same terms as these two ‘wars of choice’ are.  Presumably if they had all been over in a fortnight, all would have been AOK.

    NOBEL PRIZE STILL OUTSTANDING

    Mr Obama got one, though what for WHO knows.  I certainly don’t. But for his efforts in several parts of the world, for our former PM, zilch recognition from this quarter. This is a shameful omission.

    THE PRO-ACTIVE FORMER PRIME MINISTER

    Since stepping down from office, Mr Blair has been uniquely pro-active. In fact his naysayers find his ‘boundless energy’ irritating.  Envious, embittered armchair generals and opiners? Certainly NOT deciders.

    From his Sports Foundation in the north of England, which has already funded coaches and children in sports, to his Faith Foundation set up to bring faiths together, Mr Blair has been dynamic.  In fact he’s the dynamos’ dynamo.

    He takes the expected and clearly envious flak for the fact that he is highly prized and rewarded as a public speaker and as an adviser to business. At the same time he has become a professor at Yale university on Faith and Globalisation.

    In fact I contend it would be difficult to invent a character so complex and so successfully busy, and sell such a story as fiction.

    CLIMATE ISSUES

    For years, and perhaps particularly since leaving office, he has led the climate change debate WORLDWIDE. He is now a leading light in The Climate Group.

    Here, Chinese martial arts champion and film star Jet-Li praises Mr Blair’s contribution to the debate and to the ACTION.

    What does Jet-Li have to say about the other contenders for the EU presidency? Might I suggest, ‘Er … who?’

    In fact what does the EU and the world have to say about the other candidates’ commitment to ANY of the world’s important causes? The very idea that some in the EU think Blair is NOT the right man for this job is mind-boggling.

    Jet Li and Tony Blair launch 1000 village plan to tackle climate change (Aug 2009)

    [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toPblDNzOa4]

    Pictures from Jet Li’s site – Alive, not Dead

    CLIMATE WORLDWIDE

    And here, on 4th November Mr Blair spells out the critical importance of Copenhagen at the recent Queensland Climate Summit

    Tony Blair urges investment in Rwanda and Sierra Leone at the ‘Private Equity in Africa’ Summit

    Tony Blair meets volunteers on Lumley Beach in Sierra Leone

    Tony Blair meets volunteers on Lumley Beach in Sierra Leone

    View more from Tony Blair’s YouTube channel here and at his website here.

    QUARTET ENVOY TO THE MIDDLE EAST

    Mr Blair got this job before he left Downing Street. But, despite a lot of good work on the streets and with business and infrastructure projects, some of which have been held up for months by the Israelis, Mr Blair does not and never did have the power to bring peace to the troubled Israeli/Palestine conflict. He was never a “peace negotiator” and so has not ‘failed’ in that task.

    In a dreadful and misleading article at The Guardian George Monbiot repeated the much-abused description of Tony Blair as “the Middle East peace envoy”. In fact the Quartet’s statement of his appointment  showed that his mandate was to encourage foreign investment in Palestine and related matters. His job was not to run, organise or push in political terms the peace process.

    But as many Americans say that Obama has failed, failed, failed in the Middle East, Blair is still blamed by some for not yet having solved the issues on his little ownsome. After all, ordinary mortals have been trying to resolve it for the last 60 years. What’s taking SuperBlair so long?

    On Thursday, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas said he would stand down in January, and today, despite being urged to change his mind by Israel’s  Peres, he is talking about dismantling the PA and declaring the peace process over.

    LONDON OLYMPICS

    In 2012 the eyes of the world will be on London’s Olympic Games. Whose legacy is this? One guess? Without Mr Blair’s relentless input this would clearly never have been won. Mr Obama couldn’t do it recently for America, but Mr Blair did it for Britain.

    THE EU ‘PRESIDENCY’

    The burning issue right now is whether Mr Blair will, or even should take the post of the first president of the EU Council. It is clear where I stand on this. There is no real alternative. And even if there were A N Other who was tackling important concerns like the climate and religious issues, few would have Blair’s experience or high profile and perhaps above all his unmatched communication skills.


    GORDON BROWN IS STRUGGLING IN ALL LEADERSHIP ARENAS

     

    It was ever thus, of course. But Blair’s leadership abilities have been even clearer to see in comparison to Brown since he left office, love him or loathe him.

    Unlike Blair, Gordon Brown has always been unable to explain coherently our engagement in Afghanistan. It was exactly the same over Iraq.  I do not recall the forces’ chiefs criticising Blair’s leadership as they do Brown.

    Talk at the Telegraph is that on Monday the news may be that Belgium’s (until now unknown) Prime Minister, Van-Rompuy may learn that he has clinched the EU presidency. We’ll see.

    This 1st November article at The Times raises some interesting thoughts as to the ins-and-outs of deciding the EU presidency. Ignore the commenters. Their antipathy towards Blair will hold no water as more light and less heat is cast upon the issues.

    Meanwhile at Gleneagles – BROWN’S FINANCIAL SURPRISE & CLIMATE AGREEMENT FAILURE

    At the G20 in St Andrews Gordon Brown is not getting as much support as he’d like. From Canada and more importantly from the USA on Brown’s plans for a financial transaction levy the US Treasury Secretary Timothy Gethner responded with a big “no, no”. The British Bankers Association says this 30 year-old idea is not a runner, since it would be impossible to get ALL countries on board.

    Something tells me that if he were still Prime Minister Mr Blair would NEVER have suggested this policy.

    As for the G20’s hopes for a climate agreement – er  – well, nothing. Bodes well for Copenhagan, doesn’t it?

    Which brings me back to the main reason many of us support Tony Blair – political nous, high profile in the important issues and the LEADERSHIP to advance  the agenda.


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    EU President? Meet the Candidates … Jan Balkenende (Netherlands)

    November 4, 2009
  • Original Home Page
  • All Contents of Site – Index
  • Is ‘President Blair’ a shoo-in? Yes and No
  • “Ban Blair-Baiting” petition – please sign
  • Why Iraq is NO reason to reject President Blair
  • Q&A Timetable on Blair’s (& Others’) EU Dream – How Soon Will They Know? Soon.

    Comment at end

    5th November, 2009

    IS BALKENENDE A SERIOUS RIVAL TO BLAIR?

    THE LADY’S NOT FOR TURNING … Her Head

    The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Jan Peter Balkenende has something in common with Tony Blair. Neither is a declared candidate for the EU presidency job. In fact Balkenende has denied his candidacy repeatedly. His coyness may have something to do with the other thing he has in common with Mr Blair. Both of them dread the humiliation of being rejected by The Lady.

    Balkenende_Merkel_Reuters

    (left) Jan Peter Balkenende, Netherlands Prime Minister, with Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel

    Put aside whether Germany SHOULD have this power of patronage rejection or acceptance; the cookie seems to have crumbled that way.  Ms Merkel, far more it seems than France’s Mr Sarkozy (who also holds large voting power), realises her king-maker status right now. She is evidently playing it for all it’s worth.

    Oooh, the intoxication that power wields…

    … down, boys.

    blair_merkel_kissfromMrFlash

    A kiss from Blair. Is Merkel playing hard to get? More than one undeclared "candidate" may be fighting shy of her rejection.

    According to NRC Handelsblad, Balkenende is “more Chairman than President”. Merkel’s eyes, it suggests,  are turning more to a ‘chairman’ than to a ‘president’.


    Jan Peter Balkenende


    WHAT THE PRESS & PAPERS SAY

     

    1. Today’s Telegraph says that Tony Blair has been calling Merkel & Sarkozy in fight for EU presidency

    2. Who Is Van Rompuy? Thoughts and comments on the Benelux candidates.

    3. The BBC’s list 0f 8 ‘candidates’

    4. Dutch News: ‘Balkenende’s EU chances shrink

    5. Reuters article by European Policy columnist Paul Taylor discounts Tony Blair but suggests we take our pick from 6 others. Mr Taylor has some interesting thoughts on Balkenende:

    Taylor: “DISTINCT LACK OF ENTHUSIASM IN BERLIN”

    “I wrote on this blog last week that Jan-Peter Balkenende … seemed well placed because he is a grey man with few sworn enemies in Europe. Balkenende supported the Iraq war, but not as actively as Blair. Dutch troops did not fight to topple Saddam Hussein. An independent inquiry headed by a retired judge is now investigating how the government came to support the war when its own intelligence service doubted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

    Balkenende has made coalitions with almost everyone, including the far-right anti-immigrant Pim Fortuyn List which entered parliament in 2002 after its founder was assassinated. His seven years in office have been marked by a sharp rise in xenophobia and Euroscepticism in the Netherlands. He lost a referendum on the EU constitution in 2005. He has made no notable contribution to the EU, nor shown any particular interest in European affairs. He did raise hackles, particularly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, by promising parliament in 2005 he would win a 1 billion euro annual reduction in the Dutch EU contribution and negotiating stubbornly until he achieved that aim. That may explain the distinct lack of enthusiasm for his candidacy in Berlin.”


    WHAT’S THE BETTING?

     

    It depends. As far as this site’s favourite is concerned (Tony Blair) the UK Polling Report website reports this:

    The full tables for ICM’s poll at the weekend are now up on their website here. It gives me a chance to go back and look properly at the questions on whether people support Tony Blair becoming the EU President. Up until now we’ve had some YouGov polls showing support and opposition evenly split, and this ICM poll showing a majority opposed. The reason for the difference is quite interesting.

    ICM asked if people were in favour or against Blair becoming President of the EU. 36% were in favour, 53% were opposed, 11% didn’t know. In contrast, when YouGov asked they gave people the options of saying they supported Tony Blair, or that they opposed him and would rather the President came from another EU country (my emphasis). While support for Blair isn’t much difference between ICM (36%) and YouGov (31% and 38%), YouGov found much lower opposition to Blair.

    It suggests the contrast is down to fact that people ICM is picking up everyone who opposes Blair, while YouGov only got people who oppose him so much that they would rather have someone from another EU state.

    The above referred to the Times poll showing that 43% of Brits would say YES to Pres Blair. Also to last weekend’s Telegraph ICM poll showing Blair’s support at 36%. Disregard for a moment the provisos from UK Polling Report quoted above. Considering that according to some – “everyone in Britain HATES him”, I reckon 36% is a great start!

    Click to CHECK for PRESENT BETTING  ODDS for First Permanent President of the EU

    (position at 22:30, 4th Nov) – Rompuy – 6/4; Blair – 4/1; Balkenende 5/1 & Juncker 5/1. Compared to yesterday’s betting, Blair has moved up one place to 2nd favourite, and Balkenende down to joint third favourite with Juncker. (Yesterday, 3rd Nov  – Van Rompuy, from Balkenende, from Blair.)


     

    Balkenende (wikipedia)

    Jan Peter Balkenende (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈjɑn ˈpetər ˈbɑɫkənɛndə] (Speaker Icon.svg listen)) (born May 7, 1956) is a Dutch politician of the Christian Democratic Appeal party and since July 22, 2002 the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. Currently leading his Fourth cabinet, which is scheduled to be in office until 2011. Balkenende has been mentioned for the post of President of the European Council. [4] [5]

    Dutch government website

    At my 7th October post  – ‘Why Europe may/should choose Blair as EU Council President’ a Dutch anti-Iraq war  commenter said this:

    “I am from the Netherlands. And I know that Balkenende would be a very wrong choice to become President of the European Council.
    In the Netherlands he has been absent in each and every crisis. Only when the opposition forces him to an opinion, he comes up with some kind of statement. He gives the impression of someone suffering from a clinical depression.
    Beside this, he is a child! When he first met Bush jr., the former president of the USA, he behaved like a small boy that got a compliment of a headmaster. When he was patted on his shoulder by mister president, he was out of his wits from joy. In the Netherlands we made jokes about this, but we were extremely embarrassed. To please this Bush, he dragged us in an illegal war with Iraq. When the new coalition for his present government was formed, he demanded, that there would be no interrogation about this war. So we, the people, are not allowed to know what really let to this war.
    A dutch soldier in Iraq fired his gun in the air during a riot. At that time an Iraqi male fell to the ground, apparently wounded or death, nobody knows. The same day an Iraqi male was buried. Maybe the same person, maybe another. The dutch soldier was arrested for murder by the dutch prosecutors office. Then there were endless trials against this soldier. In the end, each and every judge did acquit him from every charge and the dutch authorities had to pay him a great lot of money.
    And now the big question. The Netherlands were in war with Iraq. During that war a soldier was attacked in the back by the dutch prosecutors office. Were was prime-minister Balkenende when this happened? This is of course a rhetorical question. He was were he is always when we need him: hiding in his tower, playing Harry Potter.
    And now a question for the readers of this. And this question is NOT rhetorical.

    Do you want such a person to be the leader of the European Union? Do you want Balkenende as your “president”?

    I do not know if Blair would be a very good choice. But I have seen enough from Blair, that he would not abandon his own soldiers during a war that he himself choose for them. If you lead your soldiers into a war, you have to stand behind them, support them. As he once said:
    “Backbone, not back down”.

    Or in other words:
    “Backbone, not back down, is what the European Union needs.”

    There is no place in European government for a wimp and traitor like Balkenende. If his own soldiers can not rely on him, can we?

    Yes, I realise this is only one man’s opinion. And I know too that that kind of anti-war leader opining can be found about Tony Blair too.  I did NOT realise though that the Netherlands too were in the midst of an Iraq war inquiry. So Blair is NOT the only EU leader who may be under the spotlight and asked to explain his role in that war in the next year or two. Nor did I realise that Balkenende did not take as principled a position on Iraq as did Blair.

    The latter has always insisted, “I did what I thought was right” and “I would take the same decision again.”





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