Friday, November 30, 2007

2009 Commission

Jon Worth is speculating as to who will take Mandelson's place as the British representative on the EU Commission and what a splendiferous selection he has come up with.
  1. Patricia Hewitt
    A veteran of Neil Kinnock’s efforts in the 1980s to make Labour a pro-EU party, Hewitt has the government experience as a minister in the UK for almost a decade. She has no further career ambitions in UK politics, and I suspect Gordon would not be wanting to call her back after her troubles with the NHS. She’s currently leading on the Europe parts of the consultation for Labour’s manifesto for a 2009 or 2010 general election. She speaks French too, but she will be 61 in 2009, so that might count against her.

Note that Jon does not think that the fact that she utterly fucked up her tenure at the NHS and had to resign in disgrace will not count against her.

Still, she does have the advantage that there would finally be someone in the Commission more patronising, oleaginous and unpleasant than Barroso (who Jon thinks may be going for another term), a feat that many outside Britain no doubt thought impossible.
  1. Charles Clarke
    Probably the most pro-EU Home Secretary since 1997, he’s another member of the Kinnock modernisers and is a big beast of the Labour Party that Gordon Brown might be happy to send off to Brussels. His straight talking manner might be a good way to present EU matters to a sceptical British audience. He will be 59 in 2009, and speaks French, German and (Cuban) Spanish. But does he have the stomach for frontline politics any longer?

Well, he certainly has a massive fucking stomach, that's for sure. Note, again, that Jon does not think that the fact that he utterly fucked up his tenure at the Home Office and had to resign in disgrace will not count against him.

I reckon that he's a sure bet for the immigration portfolio, having proven his competence in this area already.
  1. Geoff Hoon
    A former MEP and Europe Minister, Hoon has been keeping his head down since the Iraq problems when he was at the MoD. He is thought to be a safe pair of hands as a politician and is intellectually sharp, although dour too. He will be 56 in 2009 and while I can’t find details of language ability it’s not in doubt that he can cope in the Brussels environment.

Oh dear fucking god, no! Geoff Hoon was notable for being Secretary of State for Defence at the time that we went into Iraq and was infamous for saying that the use of nuclear weapons would be justified "in the right circumstances". He was still in post at the time of the Dr David Kelly affair, during which time he was described as "slippery" and "dishonest".

Actually, come to think of it, he'd probably do rather well in the cesspit that is EU politics.
  1. Charles Kennedy
    When Gordon Brown appointed his cabinet he included some non-Labour people: Mark Malloch-Brown, Digby Jones and Admiral West. So what are the chances that Brown could do the same with the nominee for European Commissioner, and go for someone outside the Labour Party? The pro-European Tories (Heseltine, Clarke) are over the hill, but what about Charles Kennedy? He’s the new chair of the European Movement, he’s a like-able and communicative politician, plus it would divide the Lib Dems. He would be 50 in 2009.

Well, that'll drive him back onto the sauce. I generally liked Kennedy even though he tried, with a fair degree of success, to be all things to all men, and one never quite knew what he really stood for.
  1. Someone else
    Who else could be in the running? From within the Labour Party Gordon could choose one of the discredited Blairites - Milburn for example - but does he dislike the Commission that much? From within the Cabinet then perhaps Peter Hain or Hilary Benn, with their interest in international matters, might be possibles. I cannot imagine any of the younger cabinet members wanting the job - Miliband, Milband, Alexander, Balls, Purnell, Burnham, Cooper. Beyond that it’s hard to know what to suggest.

Given that—in common with all the other EU states—our government will sent the biggest political embarrassment and/or incompetent to be the British Commissioner, Jon's list look depressingly plausible.

In a way, I do hope that it is Patsy Hewitt; this is partly because I miss such an easy target but also because I feel that the British people will really identify her with the EU. In which case, they will conflate their loathing of her with a loathing of the EU and we'll have voted to get the fuck out approximately two hours after she's taken up her post.

And Patsy needn't think that we'll be letting her back in the country, by the way...


FlipC said...

Wasn't there an ad in the latest Labour Parliamentary newsletter

"Have you been involved in anything 'dodgy'; been taking money from the wrong people and not telling anyone? Has your department been handing out confidential information like party favours? Have you run your department into the ground? Most importantly are you still loyal to the current regime?

If you've answered yes to all those questions then have you thought about applying for the post as the British representative on the EU Commission?

It's just like gardening leave, but with perks"

Devil's Kitchen said...

The main perk being, of course, that you get to tell 450,000,000 what to do.

"Would suit someone of ambitious -- even meglomaniac -- disposition. And no shame."


Mark Wadsworth said...

If people hate Patsy more than Hoon, then she's definitely the woman for the job!

I find it difficult to hate Kennedy (or even Clarke or Mandy) with the same passion.

Roger Thornhill said...

Mandy at least KNOWS in himself he is a slimy creep up to no good. Hewitt§ is in total and utter denial. If she faced up to what she really was she'd implode and have a nervous breakdown.

Fungus (Clarke) would not be appointed - you may as well appoint Prescott.

These people have had their moral compass demagnetised long ago.

§ and Blears, Harman, Jowells, Hodge, Cooper, Hain...ok, everyone but Frank Field and "Grandpa Munster" Stephen Pound.

MJW said...

DK, I think your missing the point, a senior EU job is a payoff for failed or spent politicians who remain loyal and don't start bitching. It's part of the way the EU gets its claws into national political systems, senior politicians from all the major parties know that there's a good chance of hitting paydirt with the EU when they've got nowhere left to go in national politics.

Look at some of our EU big cheeses of recent years: Mandy, the Welsh Windbag and the last Governor of Hong Kong!

Devil's Kitchen said...


No, believe me; I hadn't missed that point. However, I felt it too obvious to mention...


Ian Bennett said...

"the fact that he utterly fucked up his tenure ... will not count against him."

It obviously didn't do Mandelbrot any harm.

"one of the discredited Blairites - Milburn for example"

PLEASE let it be Milburn; I'm not sure I can stand having him as my MP for much longer.

Jon Worth said...

I'd just like to underline that these are not the people I would *want* to be Commissioner. The post was more my effort to work out who might be in the running. I vehemently dislike sending failed politicians to Brussels but - as you write - I don't think that is going to matter one little bit in determining Brown's selection.

Have you got any more likely names to throw into the mix?

Ed said...

What about Brown himself? His successor might want to offer him the nice pension.

Devil's Kitchen said...


My ire was not directed at you on this occasion; as I said in the post, I suspect that you are pretty spot on, to be honest.

Let's face it, it's not going to be Estelle Morris or Ruth Kelly and I'm struggling to think of anyone else.

Unless Brown decides to send one of his inner circle: Ed Miliband? David, possibly. Maybe even Ed Balls if he makes a big enough cock up of things in Britain: after all, much like Mandelson, he must have a good idea of where the bodies are buried.


""the fact that he utterly fucked up his tenure ... will not count against him."

It obviously didn't do Mandelbrot any harm."

Yes, there was a certain amount of sarcasm in my post...


Jon Worth said...

No, I'm well aware the ire wasn't directed at me - that's why I did actually reply here as it wasn't me directly you were swearing at.

I did also wonder whether Brown might want to send David Miliband away for 5 years, keep him out of the way. Would depend on how things develop at the FCO.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Another name to throw into the mix is of course Toe-knee Blair, once he's finished fucking up this Middle East thing, that way he can limber up for being EU-president.

Anonymous said...

Alistair Darling will be looking for a job once Brown gives his job to Ed Balls. He can be under-secretary in charge of IT backups.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Another truism bites the dust.

Roger Thornhill said...

Ian Bennett, I think Milburn has his eye on a bigger prize - the leadership.

Why else has such a big hitter laid so low for so long, only surfacing once to put forward an alterative manifesto during the Brown takeover.