Why euro-sceptics should back Miliband

At the back end of September, US President Obama made a whistle-stop visit to the International Olympic Committee in Copenhagen to set the seal on the bid of his home city, Chicago, for the 2016 Olympics.  Hours later, in what looked like a calculated snub to the President, the IOC chose Rio de Janeiro, with Chicago out of the top two.
 
This week, Gordon Brown has been to Brussels to throw the full weight of his government behind Tony Blair’s unannounced candidacy for the yet-to-be-created post of EU President (OK, President of the Council, if we want to be pedantic).  Brown’s candidate is the man to “stop the traffic in Washington and Beijing”, we are told (although as David Cameron acutely suggested, maybe a man who could keep the traffic moving would be better value).  Yet this morning’s news is that sentiment in Brussels has turned decisively against Blair, with the big countries failing to back him, and the small countries and the socialist group opposing him.
 
It seems that Western political leaders are all too willing to squander their remaining political capital and credibility in backing losing projects.
 
There is only one reason why opponents of the Lisbon Treaty might have wanted Blair as EU President: to savour the piquant irony of his achieving a high-profile and highly rewarded position that would exist only as a result of the man himself breaking his government’s solemn manifesto pledge to the British people on a Constitutional referendum.
 
Yet bad news for Blair may be good news for David Miliband, and also for euro-sceptics.  It is now proposed, apparently with no sense of irony, that this callow youth, banana in hand, may be favoured for the EU Foreign Minister job (OK, High Representative for Foreign Affairs, if we want to be pedantic).  Miliband is totally lacking in presence, or charisma, or gravitas.  He lacks any sense of history or diplomacy.  Like most Blair apparatchiks, he seems to be seized with the idea that history began in Year Zero (OK, 1997, if we want to be pedantic) when the New Labour Era burst onto the scene.  His recent trip to India as British Foreign Secretary was widely regarded as the greatest diplomatic faux pas of recent decades.
 
Yet the timing could hardly be better for young David.  With Labour facing the prospect of defeat and opposition next year, what better for him than a move to a bigger job in Europe?  It is, after all, the usual rat-run for failed British ministers.
 
So why should opponents of the Lisbon Treaty be cheering for David Miliband at this point?  There is surely no better way to undermine the credibility and legitimacy of the Lisbon Treaty, and of the structures and institutions it creates, than to see non-entities in the top jobs.  It seems that Brussels has already decided that a nonentity from Luxembourg (or wherever) will make a better President than Tony Blair, who (hate him as we may) at least has a certain global stature.  It would surely suit us very well if the other great office of the EU were held by someone farcically inadequate to the task.  Go for it, Miliband!

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