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The Tories and Europe: More of "What the Hell"?

[ 0 ] October 31, 2009 |

I was going to write something about this, but that’s too easy: the “drug czar” of the UK gets the sack for very publicly disagreeing with the Government’s drug policy, and terms Gordon Brown and the cabinet “irrational luddites”. He has a point, but it’s too simple to point out the hilarity of a Government, in its waning days, ignoring its chief scientific advisory panel on drugs. Could they be scrounging for votes instead?

Rather, I’m perplexed by this bit of amateur diplomatic tomfoolery. What the hell is Cameron playing at? First, partially through the hack handedness of the otherwise steady William Hague, shadow foreign minister, Tony Blair’s chances of being named the new EU President have faded dramatically. While it looks as though it is typical Euro-dithering that has led to the rejection of a Blair candidacy, it doesn’t help to have the opposition in your own country (and likely next Government) publicly reject you.
I have to admit, I don’t understand this for two reasons. First, why threateningly come out against one of your own citizens for the top job? It smacks of petty politics domestically, and in to the EU the threatening tone of Hague’s remarks instantly remind all and sundry of the not-exactly-cooperative approach adopted by earlier Tory administrations. Second, I don’t see the value in European leaders wanting a “chairman rather than a chief”. A recognizable, public face as the putative leader or figurehead representing the EU will help not only abroad, but within the EU itself. Not noted for its democratic transparency, distrusted by more than just the British, and perceived to be run by faceless Eurocrats in Brussels, such a “president” would help raise the profile of the EU within the EU.
Then the Tories did themselves no favors with Cameron’s recent stunt in writing a letter to the Czech president which appears to be encouraging the Czech president to delay being the final signatory to the Lisbon treaty until after a Tory election victory in (likely) May of 2010. It’s always sound to piss off, say, Sarkozy, Merkel, and José Luiz Rodríguez Zapatero, the latter of whom matters because Spain will hold the rotating EU presidency from January to July of 2010. The Tories will already have the lion share of the anti-EU vote in 2010, so I’m not too sure just what they’re playing at.
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