Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
Why "token"?
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:52:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Get on with the narrative.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:54:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because she has never been elected to anything, was never a particularly senior or influential politician in the UK, has barely had 12 months taking over an existing brief and mandate as a trade negotiator on behalf of the EU - has she changed anything, achieved anything on a European scale?  The brief was for a nominally leftist women to balance male right wingers in all the other EU leadership positions.  In the end it had to be a Brit to get Brown to back off Blair.  There wasn't anyone else left...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 06:57:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other and: name a female Socialist former foreign minister-or-higher from the EU's North[west], who would have been available for the job.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:13:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why did the job have to go to the North west?  You have lost me here.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:54:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, messed up with the PotEC...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:09:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EP President is Polish, the Commission President is Portuguese... and we were not about to give a top job to a Balkan :P

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:42:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do the Spaniards feel about being disqualified for all jobs because Barroso is Portuguese?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:48:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was not aware that this was the case - nobody has made it an issue at all in the Spanish public debate.

I was however, pretty pissed off that Zapatero suported Barroso's reappointment on the grounds that he's Iberian because I think he's about as bad as Blair, only less evil and with better teeth.

Then again

  1. by not pushing for Moratinos, Zapatero preserved the reappointment of Joaquín Almunia as Commissioner for Economic and Monetary affairs. Now that you mention it, was this reappointment the quid-pro-quo for supporting Barroso?
  2. Rumour has it that Sarkozy was suggesting Moratinos so that Almunia would have to be dropped and France could take his portfolio
  3. Moratinos was in the short list for High Representative


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:23:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because she has never been elected to anything

Given that diplomacy is not necessarily best conducted by elected officials, I fail to see why this is a huge problem.

was never a particularly senior or influential politician in the UK

Uh... in my view, that's a mark in her favor, when one thinks about recent senior and/or influential politicians in the UK.

The brief was for a nominally leftist women to balance male right wingers in all the other EU leadership positions.

Ah.  So any woman named to this position would be a "token"?

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:17:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the stormy present:
Ah.  So any woman named to this position would be a "token"?

No.
Neelie Kroes (if you want a commissioner with a track record)
Mary Robinson (if she could be persuaded)
DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE (if you want someone with both a Commission and an electoral track record)
Tarja Kaarina Halonen

All have more substantial track records.  The only problem was they're not British.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:27:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kroes wasn't foreign policy, either -- and, Oui's praises notwithstanding, I heard positives about her only in the same timeframe Ashton was Commissioner. AFAIK Tarja Halonen wasn't available, either. Dalia Grybauskaitė wasn't from the Northwest.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:37:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mary Robinson has said she does not want the job. Tarja Halonen and Dalia Grybauskaite both have jobs.  Why on Earth would they want to give up being presidents of their respective countries to take this position?  Crikey, I wouldn't.

Neelie Kroes I had to look up.  It seems to me that has no real experience in diplomacy or foreign relations, other than her current position as Commissioner for Competition, in which her mandate is largely limited to business and commerce -- hardly the profile I'd want for this position, but I'm not European, so what do I know.  As a side note, the Wiki entry says she's "a confidant of Ayaan Hirsi Ali," and persuaded her to join the VVD, which IMHO should be a huge mark against her.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:45:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why on Earth would they want to give up being presidents of their respective countries to take this position?

(Just nitpicking: van Rompuy and Barroso did gave up their PM jobs. Though, for fairness, Barroso did so to flee a sinking ship...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:48:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They gave up positions as heads of state to become presidents of the European Commission and the European Council.  Do you think either would have done so to become foreign ministers?
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:55:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They may or may not have been persuadable.  I don't know if any were asked.  My only point here is that to argue that Baroness Ashton was appointed in large part because she was British and a women is not necessarily a sexist "token" women argument.  If someone wants to make the argument that she is the best possible High Rep for the EU at the moment regardless of nationality or gender, then I am happy to listen to that argument - but I have seen no one even try to make that case.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:53:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're the one who used the term "token," not me.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, sorry, it was Jerome who used it, apologies.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:01:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No problem - I don't think Jerome should have used the word "token" as it is generally a red flag word for sexism.  However Jerome has acknowledged her competence - much more than me - and my concerns are centred around a lack of experience/achievement at the highest level and a lack of a history of successful political engagement with any electorate.  Neither necessarily mean she won't end up doing a good job.  However the reasons for he appointment won't necessarily increase popular identification with EU institutions either, and that was one of the issues Lisbon was supposed to address.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:45:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither Kroes nor Robinson nor Grybauskaité nor Halonen were on the list proposed yesterday in the "betting pool" open thread.

Jerome a Paris:

I think you need to add (none / 1) the list for the High Representative as well. The two will be selected as a pair.

Names mentioned

CATHERINE ASHTON, 53, a member of Britain's Labour Party, she has been the EU's trade commissioner since 2008;

MASSIMO D'ALEMA, 60, is a former Socialist Italian prime minister and foreign minister;

BERNARD KOUCHNER, 70, France's foreign minister and the founder of the international aid agency Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)

DAVID MILIBAND, 44, the Labour Party member is currently Britain's foreign minister;

MIGUEL ANGEL MORATINOS, 58, is Spain's Socialist foreign minister with seven years prior experience as the EU's special representative for the Mideast peace process;

URSULA PLASSNIK, 53, a Christian Democratic former Austrian foreign minister and ambassador to Switzerland;

OLLI REHN, 47, a Finn, has been EU commissioner for enlargement for five years;

ADRIAN SEVERIN, 55, member of the European Parliament, the Social Democrat is a former Romanian foreign minister.

I'd also add Elisabeth Guigou

Of the women, Plassnik was of the wrong party, as there was a political agreement to appoint an EPP member as President and a PES member as High Representative. Jérôme added Guigou to the list as a personal wish.

As it turns out, looking at the field I ended up predicting Ashton's appointment. And Jérôme predicted Juncker-Plassnik, presumably with a dose of gender balance influencing the choice?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:01:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But then perhaps I am a no one!
Frank Schnittger:
It's useful to have the additional info given with this list:
BACKGROUND: Who's who of possible candidates for EU posts - Monsters and Critics

JAN PETER BALKENENDE, 53, Christian Democratic prime minister of the Netherlands since 2002;

TONY BLAIR, 56, former Labour Party prime minister of Britain;

FELIPE GONZALEZ, 67, a Socialist former prime minister of Spain;

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE, 53, the party-unaffiliated president of Lithuania and a former EU budget commissioner;

TARJA HALONEN, 65, the Social Democratic president of Finland since 2000;

JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER, 54, Luxembourg's Christian Democratic prime minister and head of the Eurogroup of European finance ministers;

PAAVO LIPPONEN, 68, the Social Democrat is a former Finnish prime minister and current president of that country's parliament;

MARY ROBINSON, 65, former Labour Party president of Ireland;

WOLFGANG SCHUESSEL, 64, a former lawyer and Conservative Party chancellor of Austria from 2000 through 2007;

HERMAN VAN ROMPUY, 62, current Christian Democratic prime minister of Belgium;

GUY VERHOFSTADT, 56, a former Belgian prime minister who currently heads the Liberal bloc in the European Parliament;

VAIRA VIKE-FREIBERGA, 71, an unaffiliated former president of Latvia.

Candidates for High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (in alphabetical order):

CATHERINE ASHTON, 53, a member of Britain's Labour Party, she has been the EU's trade commissioner since 2008;

MASSIMO D'ALEMA, 60, is a former Socialist Italian prime minister and foreign minister;

BERNARD KOUCHNER, 70, France's foreign minister and the founder of the international aid agency Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres)

DAVID MILIBAND, 44, the Labour Party member is currently Britain's foreign minister;

MIGUEL ANGEL MORATINOS, 58, is Spain's Socialist foreign minister with seven years prior experience as the EU's special representative for the Mideast peace process;

URSULA PLASSNIK, 53, a Christian Democratic former Austrian foreign minister and ambassador to Switzerland;

OLLI REHN, 47, a Finn, has been EU commissioner for enlargement for five years;

ADRIAN SEVERIN, 55, member of the European Parliament, the Social Democrat is a former Romanian foreign minister.




notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:09:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I understood only the ones in yellow were candidates for High Representative and the others were candidates for President.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:15:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guigou would have been a good choice.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:43:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She had no patrons, with the PS being in opposition and all...

Ashton had Brown to propose her and Zapatero to second it, both Socialist and Brown her compatriot.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:55:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me challenge the idea that "no being elected to anything" is a disqualifier.

In the current media-dominated, postmodern, electioneering brand of politics, elections are to a large extent popularity contests. Substance in public political debates is low. We discuss whether politicians are photogenic (I don't think Ashton is) or charismatic.

To borrow terminology from Bob Altemeyer, the proportion of authoritarian social manipulators among elected politicians is higher than in the general population. Sociopaths are not only drawn to power but they are more successful at emotionally manipulating crowds. In addition, to be selected by a political party to be a candidate tends to require taking part in the mutual backscratching of the patronage networks underlying political parties.

Thus, we get Blair. And Sarkozy. And Berlusconi.

The other day there was the following in the Salon

Bernard:

Tony Blair May Covet EU Presidency, But He's No Belgian Haiku Master - WSJ.com
Mr. Rompuy is the right man, Belgian political scientist Tobias Van Assche argued in a paper published last week by the University of Antwerp. After all, the 62-year-old Belgian scored low in a measure of "self-confidence" and "will to power."
to which I answered
If he got to Prime Minister nonetheless, it means that he probably has enough of both, and simply scored "relatively low" among the sociopathic manipulators he has for peers.
From what I've read about Ashton she's the kind of person that just gets down to work. Clearly she doesn't have the inclination or ability for electoral politics. But nobody has claimed she has been incompetent at any of her appointments. She was, indeed, appointed Commissioner to replace Peter Mandelson (a double-high sociopathic manipulator as referenced above) with 18 months left of a 5 year term and so she was probably chosen because nobody else wanted the job. Nobody expected her to achieve much anyway. But reports are that she is well respected in Brussels because of her work over these 18 months.

Let me give you another example: Jadranka Kosor of Croatia.

Croatia had a charismatic Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader. He got locked into a dispute with Slovenia's Borut Pahor which delayed Croatia's EU accession negotiations for over a year. Then he resigned abruptly and installed Kosor as his replacement. Apparently Kosor wasn't well respected in Croatia, even though she had even been a Presidential candidate, most people considered her to be an airhead. However, she happens to be one of those people who sit down and quietly do their job. One of the first things she did when she assumed office was to whip all the ministers into shape demanding a quick report from each of them. It appears they were shocked. She also has solved the diplomatic dispute with Slovenia in less than 6 months, though it is possible that the Croatian public or parliament won't like the deal she's struck. Her popularity seems to be suitably high at this point. But hey, at the time of her appointment people's perception of her was coloured by the current president's quip during the presidential election that pitted the two of them that all she was good for was coming out of a cake at a party.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:18:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You or SteelLady should write a longer diary on her, BTW.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:20:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't have a problem with competent people doing good jobs "even if they were not elected to anything".  

My concern is that we have just fought a very hard referendum campaign in Ireland where much of the NO argument was driven by British and Irish Eurosceptic arguments about "unelected elites" in Brussels taking over peoples lives and now we seem to be going almost out of our way to appoint someone who fits that description reasonably accurately.

Membership of the British House of Lords (and she is still a peer) does not sit well with most peoples idea of democratic accountability and all sides - even the yes campaign - conceded the EU had some way to go to make the EU institutions appear "closer to the people" and to encourage greater popular identification and emotional involvement with those institutions.

That argument always seemed particularly specious to me when it came from British Eurosceptics with their (frequent) attachments to the House of Lords, "distain for the masses", and attachment to direct democracy only when it came to demanding referenda on the EU.

But it is still an argument and a perception which gained a lot of traction in the campaign and appointing a Peer who has never submitted to a popular election doesn't help that perception.  Politics is about popular engagement as well as administrative competence, and in my view Baroness Ashton has not conclusively demonstrated either.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:08:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Membership of the British House of Lords (and she is still a peer) does not sit well with most peoples idea of democratic accountability and all sides - even the yes campaign - conceded the EU had some way to go to make the EU institutions appear "closer to the people" and to encourage greater popular identification and emotional involvement with those institutions.
I am on the record not minding an unelected House of Lords.
Actually, an unelected second-reading chamber helps protect the State from the influence of money. Case in point: if the House of Lords votes down 42-day detention it will be in part because Brown can't threaten the Lords with a snap election where they'd lose their seats, or engage in horse-trading on individual constituency demands.

So I am convinced that having two directly elected chambers is a waste but I am not convinced that an unelected second chamber is a bad idea. Spain's Senate definitely is useless as configured and I would much rather it be replaced with the Conference of Presidents.



En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 Whatever about the UK - and they are as entitled to their internal traditions as anyone else - how is this relevant to the EU?  You are hardly advocating a second, unelected Chamber of the EU Parliament?

The irony I am seeking to highlight (perhaps ad nauseam by now) is that British Eurosceptics never stop criticising the EU for a lack of direct democracy  whilst being contemptuous of popular politics within the UK and being supportive of the Queen, The lords, and the constitutional privileges of the House of Commons.  There is hardly a country in Europe with less direct democracy than the UK, and a highly flawed first past the post electoral system at that.

Appointing a Baroness to a top EU post is going to do nothing to challenges the faux "unelected Brussels elite" argument they so love to pedal.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:01:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Whatever about the UK - and they are as entitled to their internal traditions as anyone else - how is this relevant to the EU?
Because everyone is making Ashton being a life peer an issue in her EU appointment, including you to whose comment I was replying.
You are hardly advocating a second, unelected Chamber of the EU Parliament?
I'm not. If you read my comment you'll infer that I would oppose a second elected chamber which is not the same thing as advocating a second unelected chamber.

But, really, as I am forced to point out repeatedly, the German Federal Council (Bundesrat) is an unelected (that is, indirectly elected) second-reading chamber and nobody clamors for its removal, and it is very analogous to the European Council itself, where representatives of the Member States' governments act in codecision with the directly elected parliament in the EU's legislative process.

Appointing a Baroness to a top EU post is going to do nothing to challenges the faux "unelected Brussels elite" argument they so love to pedal
So the British Eurosceptics peddle inconsistent nonsense, what else is new? I thought the point of our debates was to do our own honest analysis of sorts. And I disagree - attacking a fellow Brit, and a former Leader of the House of Lords and President of the Privy Council would be a bit muchfor the British Eurosceptics.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:11:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Baroness Ashton was only appointed to her various UK ministerial jobs on the basis of being an appointed member of the House of Lords. That maybe ok in the context of UK Parliamentary tradition, but I suggest, not a great basis for EU appointments when the EU is itself under constant criticism for its "demodratic deficit".  Should we appoint (say) a member of the Belgian royal family to a top EU post?  They might be very competent.

I thought the Lisbon Treaty and the new posts created under its terms was part of an attempt to encourage greater popular identification and involvement with EU institutions by EU citizens.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:24:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
Baroness Ashton was only appointed to her various UK ministerial jobs on the basis of being an appointed member of the House of Lords.
As there were hundreds of other members of the House of Lords, I think you're overstating the case here.

Within the institutional context of British politics, her life peerage is totally incidental to a political apparatchik's career. If someone has to be made a peer in order to be a minister because they're not an MP, they are made a peer. It's pretty meaningless. Most non-hereditary peers know this and are not assholes about being a Baron(ess).

Sarah Ludford MEP is also a life peer and nobody questions that she works her arse off as a parlamentarian. Then again, she's in an elected position and in the Lib Dems you have to go through an open (to party members) primary in order to get the #1 slot on the party list.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:35:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Within the institutional context of British politics, her life peerage is totally incidental to a political apparatchik's career. If someone has to be made a peer in order to be a minister because they're not an MP, they are made a peer.

Precisely my point.  In Britain it is possible to have an extensive ministerial career without ever standing for election - something which is less common in most other member states as far as I am aware  - and not necessarilly a great way to tackle the acknowledged "democratic deficit" within the EU.

My point is that because of long-standing tradition (some would call in class prejudice) it is not very unusual for senior political leaders never having to be electorally accountable in the UK.  As long as they're the right sort of British, that's all well and good old chap.

However the EU has nothing like the long tradition and legitimacy that appears to be bestowed on the British ruling class.  What legitimacy it has is largely bestowed on it through popular elections and the participation of popularly elected Governments.  

I'm sure if she ends up doing a very good job, none of this will be an issue.  But its not a good place to start from right after the difficulties we had in getting a popular endorsement of Lisbon against allegations that it was all an elite project and a conspiracy against ordinary people.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:58:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
In Britain it is possible to have an extensive ministerial career without ever standing for election - something which is less common in most other member states as far as I am aware
Um, take Pedro Solbes, Spain's minister for agriculture 1991-3, Economy minister 1993-6 and 2004-9, vice-president in 2004-9, and EU Commisioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs in 1999-2004. He only even joined the PSOE in 2008 and was a parlamentarian for exactly one year.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:04:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So you are saying it is, and should be an elite project? That wasn't the Yes campaign line.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:08:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've had enough of your populist demagoguery in this thread.

You make a factual claim, I rebut you and you reply with this? I was not part of the yes campaign in Ireland.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:15:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
I've had enough of your populist demagoguery in this thread.

Ah so it is populist demagoguery to argue that the EU should be more than an elite project and I should stop arguing that popular mandates are an important though not the only form of democratic legitimacy.  Seeing this is the second time you have told me I am not welcome here I shall leave.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:23:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have replied with reasoned arguments and facts to the litany of talking point after talking point coming from you, some of which are not even your own opinions. So, yes, I find it frustrating to debate you. And no, I am not speaking for here but for myself so don't play victim either.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:26:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You will never turn me into a victim, but I will not debate on exclusively your terms either. I find your almost exclusive emphasis on the rational and disdain for the popular, democratic, emotional, affective and imaginative elements of politics equally frustrating, but I hope I have never been discourteous in my replies.  If so I apologise.  Cheers!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:34:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 "You have a history of pretending to articulate positions that are not yours without making it explicit that that's what you're doing. Could you stop?"

"I've had enough of your populist demagoguery in this thread."

I don't find these statements can be lumped together with other "reasoned arguments and fact."

Without going into the validity of anyone's arguments here,  i would be displeased if ET lost the quality Frank Schnittger brings to the table simply because you might dig too deeply for civilized discourse.

If you've indeed had enough of x or y, the proper response is leave it alone.

And i may discuss the anti-Brit thread elsewhere, but not here.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:53:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:18:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course the Eurosceptics want to preserve their own delusional concept of sovereignty and empire.

Democracy has nothing to do with it - it's just a convenient stick they can use to beat the dog. If the electorate is dim enough to believe the sceptics have any interest in democratic accountability, more fool them.

Elected leaders are hardly models of excellence - Blair, Aznar, Burlesquoni, ad nauseam - so being elected isn't quite a benchmark of appropriateness.

What this debate underlines is the impossible criteria needed for leadership. If you're elected you're likely to be a spiv, a fool, and/or a sociopath, and if you're unelected you're undemocratic - which is even worse

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:13:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
What this debate underlines is the impossible criteria needed for leadership. If you're elected you're likely to be a spiv, a fool, and/or a sociopath, and if you're unelected you're undemocratic - which is even worse
What this debate underlines is that there's always a talking point available within one's narrative to argue either way on anything.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:19:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I said. :)
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:22:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It applies with full generality, so I restated it.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:26:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, another Angela Merkel.

I agree she's a fig leaf, but that doesn't mean she'll be insignificant.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:45:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, another Angela Merkel.

A potentially powerful narrative.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:20:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because "we" disapprove of her appointment. Therefore token.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:00:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I donŰ't disapprove of her appointment, but she was certainly not chosen for her experience in diplomacy and foreign policy.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:17:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Her job as trade commissioner involves foreign relations.

Also, when Javier Solana (of all people) became Spain's foreign minister he came from the ministry of education and had no diplomatic experience.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:22:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Would experience in a national foreign ministry be good or bad for the new HighRep?  
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:25:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bad because of possible vested interests?

I mean, you can always find a soundbite to argue whichever way.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:24:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But moving beyond the soundbites, it's actually an interesting question.

On the one hand, experience in the workings of state-level foreign policy gives you an idea of how foreign policy works. On the other hand, it means that you come with an existing patronage network and conventional wisdom, which may or may not be A Good Thing, depending on how parochial your local foreign ministry apparatchiks are.

On the state level, I guess Tory Bliar represents someone with no foreign policy experience prior to having to deal with it. That does not seem to have done him any favours, but that may be because of the peculiarities of the British Foreign Office.

On the other hand, long foreign policy experience means - and this is a simple matter of mathematics that would apply to all experienced candidates equally - that much of the conventional wisdom they'd have in their baggage would predate the fall of the Berlin Wall (or, at the very least and depending on your definition of "experienced," predate Schengen, Vietraq and the €). Which does not seem to have ever done anybody any favours either.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Her job as trade commissioner involves foreign relations.

Low-level and only trade.

Also, when Javier Solana (of all people) became Spain's foreign minister he came from the ministry of education and had no diplomatic experience.

Nor did Joschka Fischer and now Guido Westerwelle in Germany when getting the job. But that was not tokenism, that was (self-imagined) alpha males wrangling for top jobs.

As for Ashton, just your bilingual column about Zapatero points to tokenism as a main motivation for selecting her. But, look, don't misunderstand: from the little I know, I agree with you that she is an able person, and I hope she'll grow into the job just like into her previous (or like Solana and Fischer grew, and hopefully Westerwelle will grow into theirs).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 07:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not my opinion, sorry, but one of the explicit criteria used in the selection process: one of the two had to be a woman.

To list the non-competence related criteria:
explicit:

  • one man, one woman;
  • one left-wing, one right-wing;
  • the High Representative takes away the commissioner from its country of origin;
  • some geographic balance, considering that the EP president is from Poland and the Commission President from Portugal/Iberia;

implicit:
  • France and Germany did not want a Big Dick as president, and did not want to push names for either job;
  • the UK seemed to absolutely want one of the two jobs;
  • the small countries had a strong preference for the president to be one of them;
  • the EPP wanted the President (and thus the High Rep would have to be from the left);


In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:40:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome a Paris:

To list the non-competence related criteria:
explicit:

  • one man, one woman;
  • one left-wing, one right-wing;
  • the High Representative takes away the commissioner from its country of origin;
  • some geographic balance, considering that the EP president is from Poland and the Commission President from Portugal/Iberia;
I guess this makes van Rompuy the "token male right-wing" and Ashton the "token female left-wing"?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 09:42:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"the UK seemed to absolutely want one of the two jobs;"

That to me should have been reason NOT to let them have one. I would have been happy for a competent Brit to be considered. But a demand from the UK that they of all states should be certain to have one of the two jobs, no, that's not acceptable.
For those who claim that this is being anti-Brit on sight, how do you think the UK would have reacted to seeing the command of operations in Irak given to a French general? Even a competent one mind you. Then, add to that that France would have demanded it be given the position.

"the EPP wanted the President (and thus the High Rep would have to be from the left)"

Ahh, a failure on that count though. The High Rep is from the Right.


Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:05:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
The High Rep is from the Right.
Hardly, though I agree about New Labour in the aggregate.

Catherine Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Between 1977 and 1979 Ashton worked at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and was later elected as its national treasurer and subsequently as one of its vice-chairs. As of 1983 she worked for the Social Work Training Council.[8]

From 1983 to 1989 she was Director of Business in the Community working with business to tackle inequality, and established the Employers' Forum on Disability, Opportunity Now, and the Windsor Fellowship.

But last night we already established that campaigning for the UK to drop its "nuclear deterrent" during the early 80's was not sufficient to endear her to one of this site's most prominent anti-nuclear advocates because she's British.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:13:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She may well be a leftist at heart, but she's in a party that's from the right. You could equally well say that Chirac was a far-left politician.

Either she has changed, or at least one of her allegiances (to New Labour or to her previous campaigns, the Business in the Community being the more significant to me in a left-right discussion) is insincere. And I have no idea which one.

But if a Madrid-born lad plays for Barcelona, you can expect him to try to score against Madrid, even if he secretely wants Madrid to win. So, to rephrase, the political persona of the High Rep is from the Right. What she thinks and says at home, indeed, I don't know.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:22:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
But last night we already established that campaigning for the UK to drop its "nuclear deterrent" during the early 80's was not sufficient to endear her to one of this site's most prominent anti-nuclear advocates because she's British.

I must be missing something. I think I've followed and scanned through again the discussions here. What are you referring to? And why all this pissy innuendo from you and Colman?

There are serious arguments against the UK holding high office in the EU. And the UK's official attitudes and communication may rub other Europeans up the wrong way. But where on ET has there been denigration of British citizens per se?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:29:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Crazy Horse:
what's positive about being for nuclear disarmament?  What are the alternatives, agnostic? Pro armament?


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:34:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is supposed to count as being against Ashton because she's British?

Doesn't do it for me (though I don't necessarily agree with CH's scepticism).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:43:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes people are against Ashton for being British.

You could start by reading Jerome's own FP post

Looks like Blair's persistent lobbying did open the route for the UK to grab the most important of the two new jobs. The only silver lining is that the Commissioner in charge of banking reform in the next Commission will not be British...
and the top-level comments to it

Crazy Horse:

And echoing Fran, it will take much to convince me that the UK, outside of Schengen and the Euro, should have been given such a supposedly key position.
Jerome a Paris:
Why a Brit?
Cyrille:
How can the UK get ANYTHING?
Crazy Horse:
I feel robbed, or raped.
When I said
This is pretty unbecoming...
the answer was
This is disingenuous
But, truly, it is as unbecoming as
She looks only half female to me...
But this is just my personal opinion and oversensitivity, I guess. Or maybe not.

RogueTrooper:

Whilst this one ebbs and flows it has been a constant during the time I have been coming to ET. It's the reason I turned into a lurker.


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:51:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And let me add, this was clearly the gut reaction. Then it has been rationalised in all ways. Because she's a life peer, because she has no experience, because she's from the Labour Party, because she's a token woman... But the first reaction of those who criticise Ashton was why a Brit? After some arguing they can be convinced to withhold judgement because nobody knew her before yesterday. As with van Rompuy, I guess.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:55:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
this was clearly the gut reaction. Then it has been rationalised in all ways

That is entirely your interpretation.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:05:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We'll leave it at that.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:13:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Disingenuous and skewed to add the last points.

As for the others, they are based on Ashton as an official representative of the United Kingdom in the EU. Not on her Britishness as a person.

And no, this is not about frames and narratives. You are plainly exaggerating the focus of these remarks. Given Colman's top comment, I'd say he is too.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:01:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess both Colman and I are in the minority here. But I'll add I didn't like this one bit.

Migeru:

Whenever I have spoken for the Stop Blair! campaign I was careful to stress that it was not an anti-British campaign but an anti-Blair campaign. Maybe I was wrong.
Jerome a Paris:
You were not wrong (none / 0) It was an anti-Blair campaign, and not an anti-Brit campaign.

But what do you think of the large scale campaign mounted by Britain to get one of the two jobs, and do you think that it's amongst the first countries we should look to for a candidate for these EU-wide jobs? Why did the "no one from the big countries" somehow did not apply to the UK?

And can you not admit that for some people, it was also legitimately about him being a anti-EU Brit, even if we agreed to downplay this?

Actually, I didn't like to see the amount of generic anti-British (not anti-Blair) animosity among the Stop Blair! signatories' comments. We basically got 20 thousand Eurosceptic little Englanders who hated Blair more than the EU, and 20 thousand anti-Brit people. It was not fun to read. As I put it,
It's not that he was an anti-EU Brit. It's that being a Brit he proved he was anti-EU by failing to make the case for the EU to his fellow citizens when he enjoyed an immense amount of political capital.


En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:09:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That may be, but I think it's going too far to impugn members of ET as xenophobic anti-Brits.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:19:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Impeach me.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:21:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:27:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"As for the others, they are based on Ashton as an official representative of the United Kingdom in the EU. Not on her Britishness as a person."

Absolutely! I am a Frenchman who moved to the UK when it would be clear that I would not be getting any better career prospects from the move (quite the contrary in fact) and am about to go to the pub to meet a bunch of friends who, when I met them, had the reaction that I seemed British to them. I'll spend Christmas in Cheddar. I was, before moving to London, and ICC qualified cricket umpire. I have read more words in English than French since I turned 14. There is nothing in me against Brits per se -and I'm sure it's the same with the other people being quoted.

Maybe some signatures in the Stop Blair campaign came from people who genuinely hate the Brits (I'd guess it's actually directed more against the English btw), but we are not responsible for them.

Symbols and context do matter in politics. The campaign by the UK to have at all cost one of the two positions was ungainly. And as for the symbol, I may quote myself:

"For those who claim that this is being anti-Brit on sight, how do you think the UK would have reacted to seeing the command of operations in Irak given to a French general? Even a competent one mind you. Then, add to that that France would have demanded it be given the position."

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:24:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
Symbols and context do matter in politics. The campaign by the UK to have at all cost one of the two positions was ungainly.
As was the reaction to Ashton's appointment unbecoming of ET.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:28:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You haven't answered my questions to you upthread:


But what do you think of the large scale campaign mounted by Britain to get one of the two jobs, and do you think that it's amongst the first countries we should look to for a candidate for these EU-wide jobs? Why did the "no one from the big countries" somehow did not apply to the UK?



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:45:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess we're all afraid of the Eurosceptics and their likely 2010-2014 tenure in the UK government.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:54:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is the EU scared of the British eurosceptics, again? If they won't get in, they should get out. That shouldn't be the EU's problem.

And no, that's not about Britain. I take precisely the same line when I hear Danish eurosceptics piss and moan about the €, or hear the Danish government demand an a la carte opt out from judicial cooperation (which as it happens they only do because they want to be in Frontex but don't want to accept any of the refugees that Frontex picks up in the Mediterranean).

Although I'll grant that Britain has better reasons to not be in the € than Denmark, on account of not already being pegged to the D-mark.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 08:43:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And your quotes from these comments are cherry-picked and out of context.

Jerome asked the question Why a Brit? to answer it with the information that there was probably a trade-off for France involved:

Jerome a Paris:

It looks like the trade off is that Michel Barnier will be getting the Commissioner for the Internal Market and Financial Regulation

Crazy Horse continued his comment I feel robbed, or raped, with:

Crazy Horse:

What ever has Britain done to enhance operation of the European Union?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:16:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's okay, Jérôme himself said clearly it is legitimate to be anti-Brit even if you agree to downplay it. I'm clearly out of line here.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:20:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do I detect the smell of burning martyr?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:30:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot reply to that without being rude.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:34:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Jérôme himself said clearly it is legitimate to be anti-Brit

I explained (in more than a little bit of detail) why it was legitimate to fight against a stronger representation of UK appointees in the top European posts, and you call that being "anti-Brit"?

And I hope you won't respond by quoting again my "anti-Brit" title because that's not an argument and you know it.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:50:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
why all this pissy innuendo from you and Colman?
What innuendo? The charge is pretty clear.

And, would you mind counting the number of unabashedly anti-Brit comments in the last 24 hours?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:36:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's innuendo when you speak of another ET member without naming them and without a link. And no, I'm not counting anti-British comments. I've given my analysis of the reasons for being anti-British in an EU context. Now you back your own assertions up and show where British citizens have been denigrated as sucH.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:39:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ashton has been repeatedly and consistently denigrated for being a Brit.

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:40:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nonsense. People have expressed disappointment that the UK got a top post. Not the same thing.

Where are the big bad creep-crawlies you (and apparently Colman) see?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:44:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 10:52:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ie an official representative of the UK government, embodying the policies of the UK government.

If you can't see the difference, I can't help you.

And saying that other countries also send people that embody their governments and their policies is not an acceptable retort, given how different the consistent UK government's approach to the EU is to pretty much every other government's.

If Brown had been pushing for a UK citizen with a track record of working or spending political capital for the EU (say, to take vaguely plausible exemples, Chris Patten or Kenneth Clarke), then theinr nationality would have been less of an issue.

But if you can't see how the European Council giving in and placating the most anti-EU country in the union at this point in time can be perceived by me and others as grating and unpleasant, I'll just say, "bah."

(you'll answer with your stock answer that no rational dialogue is possible when narratives are clashing, and I'll answer that you can't possibly be serious....)(then you'll say I'm putting words in your mouth, to which I answer "duh")

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 11:29:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only personalised anti-Brit comments I have seen have been Vladimir's on Ashton's appearance - a poor attempt at a joke - and Migs' comment on Blair's teeth.  All other comments have been couched in terms of "why allocate one of the top posts to a nominee from the UK given their history of opposing the European Project" or queries as to whether Ashton's lack of high level electoral, foreign policy, or indeed European experience qualified her for the job when there seemed to be other more qualified candidates or potential candidates around.

As Jerome has stated, the brief was to find a female, at least nominally left wing candidate to complement the appointment of Van Rompuy and two other centre right men to key European posts.  In the end she had to be British as well to get Brown to ditch Blair.

To criticise her appointment or query her qualifications is not to be sexist, extreme leftwing, or anti- British.  It is to query why the price of not appointing Blair had to be the appointment of another British candidate (there are 25 other member states in the EU all with legitimate claims to push their nominees).  

If she turns out to be a nuLabour Atlanticist are we to be labelled anti-Brit, sexist, extreme socialists for criticising her?  If she turns out to be not very good at developing and projecting a coherent EU foreign policy around the world or achieving public support for same, are we to be debarred from pointing out that well, actually, she never had senior prior foreign policy experience, never did more than inherit an already well developed trade negotiating brief, and never led a public election campaign to achieve popular endorsement for any particular policy agenda?

Is it not elitist and contemptuous of democratic politics and absurdly racist to discount the claims of 25 other member states to the post on the grounds that it has to be a Brit who is not particularly well qualified for the post and who has never seen fit to seek a popular mandate for anything?  This is politics we are talking about here, not administration, and ultimately what the citizens of Europe think and feel and believe and perceive IS important even if some intellectuals want to tell them they are all ignorant and wrong and have no right to disagree with their expert analysis.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Nov 20th, 2009 at 12:50:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
the price of not appointing Blair

This turn of phrase got me thinking. This thread strikes me as having less assumption of good faith and more tiredness then usually on ET. Could it be that we did win - we got our stated goal of stopping Blair - but not much more. We did not get Robinson, or any other really good one. We got what the political machinery delivers - a rightist and a NuLabor - given where the political power rests. And then faultlines in our own not to stable coalition (and the perceived coalition formed with others around the petition) becomes easy targets for frustration over the general situation (and pies, though we have failed to drag the americans into it for once).

To be clear I am not trying to analyse any of the posters, just describing how I see the threads climate and trying to understand it. If I am right, what we need is a new concrete goal. Blair defeated, what is next on the agenda?

Or to quote the immortal poet:
The battle's done and we kind of won
So we sound our victory cheer
Where do we go from here?


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 03:15:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The kossacks have a lovely pipe dream about having a 3-4 people "bench list" of progressive candidates that are prepared and vetted in advance - so that whenever a Republican-in-Democratic-clothing shows his true colours, they have a guy ready and waiting in the wings for the next primary.

That's probably inapplicable in a European context, due to the differences in our political traditions (except perhaps in England, where they do FPTP?). But it gives a nice meter-stick to measure ambitions against.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Nov 21st, 2009 at 10:51:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Top Diaries

Occasional Series