- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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...