Tony Blair's comet streaked across the politcal arena in the mid-1990's. He was fresh, he was new, he was young and he was popular. He was also charismatic. He was poised to be the hip Prime Minister. He was ushered in on a tidal wave of a desire for a big "change" from the previous administration that had been marred with sexual scandals, tremendous infighting within the Conservative Party due to the infamous "Maastricht Rebellion" and a Europe that was dealing with the deep implications of the end of the cold war. He gave speeches that actually were delivered with a bit of passion. He was going to make Britannia ever so cool after the stuffy years of the bickering Conservatives. He was the Prime Minister who was there, center stage, when Princess Diana died and the world waited to hear anything from the Royals. In an emotional tribute, he called her "The People's Princess" and even let a bit of a tear glisten in his eye.It was probably this bit of international television exposure that helped to propel his shooting star even higher. But again as it is in British politics, the higher you go...the harder you fall.
Blair came into power riding on his glibness, his ability to woo the crowds with his dazzling smile. The people of Britain wanted youth and vitality after the moderate and plodding John Major who was actually a very decent man but often implemented programs that were not popular with the public (like privatisation of British Rail). So, the Labour Party or "New Labour" with Tony at the helm took matters in hand and soundly defeated the Conservatives by the largest margin since 1832. It was a great victory, the Brits were jubilant and they were experiencing an upward turn economically, too. But after a while the shine started to come off the sterling silver.
By the end of Tony's occupancy of 10 Downing, he left with a record of being incredibly so self-absorbed and slippery that one never knew exactly what his stand was on anything. He was so overcome with the power of his position that like Narcissus he fell in love with his own reflection in the political pool. He spent money like it was water, both on himself and by taxing and spending. His wife, Cherie was often vilified by the press for her often distasteful displays of extravagance. Blair made some bad choices at times attracting dodgy men and even dodgier deals. Basically, Tony was madly in love with....Tony. One of the greatest mistakes he made in the eyes of the British people was how he sold out to Bush and the American government in sponsoring the war in Iraq. When it was obvious that there were not weapons of mass destruction, the public felt even more betrayed. But some say that it was more important to Tony to place his weekend duffel bag in the Lincoln bedroom than to do the thing that would have taken some real guts and that would have been to say "no" to Bush and his "Hamlet"-like obsession with Hussein.
We all know that secretly Tony wanted to be the President of America. It's a great job with fantastic perks. The problem was that Blair wasn't born in the United States. So, being President of the European Union is the next best thing. The rumor is that the Conservative party is secretly backing him simply because the idea of having a Brit as President of the E.U. is better than having...say...a Frenchman. He reckons he is a shoo-in.
Not so fast, Tony.
The point is Tony's fantasy needs to stay exactly that. There should and hopefully will not be a President of Europe. The Lisbon Treaty should not be ratified. Mr Cameron has promised to call a referendum if he is elected. (Let's hope he remembers his promise---unlike Mr Brown.) When this happens, it will lead to a vote against the treaty and the position of President will be a moot point. But of late, Mr Cameron has not been as vocal in his expression of his opposition to the European Union. Perhaps he recognizes that even the Tories cannot stop the tide and since he has built a lot of his popularity on this stance, it would not be politically savvy to simply say, "Hey, guys, I don't think we will be able to overturn the treaty...if it is ratified... and I don't think I can deliver..." Nothing is clear at this point and Mr Cameron needs to re-state his stand and the stand of his party on this important issue. Now, of course, Mr Cameron's position as the favourite for the next Prime Minister is a bit shaky with the recent and surprising showing of the Liberal Democrats. I think that Mr Cameron will have to do some strategizing to keep ahead of the encroaching pack.
The most interesting thing that Mr Blair did was to convert to Roman Catholicism soon after he left office. It doesn't hurt to have a Pope on your "Facebook" page if you are going to head a European Union.
Tony reminds me of the loud geeks in the back of the class who always knew the answers and waved their hands wildly shouting , "Me, me, me, me....I know, I know, I know!" It was always touched with a bit of desperation to be recognized and acknowledged. Most of all, this desperate need was embarrassing to witness. It was always the quieter geeks that ended up...well dating me... and heading Microsoft. Tony is not a quiet geek.
Tony's theme song, if he had one? "I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls...with some lyric adjustments:
"I am telling you, I'm not going...I'm the best man that you'll ever know...there's no way I can ever go...I'm not living without me...I'm gonna love me..."
Tony may well want to be President of the European Union. And since he is a bit chummy with the Tories, they may well quietly agree to support him in his bid. It is serendipitous, however, that he converted to Catholicism as he may well have to spend a lot of time praying novenas to St Jude...the patron of lost and hopeless cases.