Howard Wheeldon woke up in a cold sweat last night. Good job it was all just a dream...
Forty-six years ago the late Martin Luther King had a dream. Within a fantastic speech during a march on Washington DC he aired that dream in public to the undoubted advantage of us all. Last night in London, I too had a dream. This one though, unlike that of the American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the African-American civil rights movement, was hardly about to move mountains. Nevertheless, it was, I believe, very pertinent to events of the day – in this case a fear of what might well be going on in European Union politics. Yes, I dreamt last night that I actually saw President Tony Blair!
As Czech President Vaclav Klaus prevaricates around giving presidential assent to ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and with it the European Constitution, I dreamt that forces were at work that seemed to indicate very strongly that the Right Honourable Anthony Charles Lynton Blair PC was in pole position to be anointed as the European Union’s first President. My dream (nightmare?) saw President Blair as chief representative of the world’s largest economic bloc, sitting in the round of the proposed G4 that comprises the US, China, Japan and the EU. So here he is, the former British Prime Minister, holding sway as he sits as the first ever Commander in Chief of the EU, a truly vast area comprising 27 sovereign states that is, if not by population, the largest G4 member in terms of aggregate GDP.
More to the point and without attempting to come to a definite conclusion, as it continued my dream attempted at each various stage to examine how on earth Mr. Blair had found his way into Europe? Was he for instance elected by the good people of the European Union? Certainly not! On the contrary, even had the good citizens of the EU been allowed a vote one could surely have been able to rule out such a possibility at a very early stage. In the EU, if not at home in the UK, Mr Blair was seen by most as a washed out politician that had effectively been hounded from the highest office in the land. Indeed, following Iraq it seems that on the continent his word had become less and less credible and his once believable gospel proved to be more and more false by the day.
It got worse for me though. I also dreamt that the current British Foreign Secretary, the Rt Honourable David Miliband MP, suggested that as President of Europe Mr. Blair’s motorcades would stop traffic just like those of the President of the US. Gosh, and then there was the Presidential Helicopter hovering overhead, not to mention the freshly ordered Airbus A330… Aaaggghhh! It was almost all too much for any decent human to bear! In my dream I then wondered why they would do that; indeed why would Mr. Blair need a motorcade at all and why on earth anyone would want to stop it – other than possibly to affect the frequently demanded citizen’s arrest that some would have Mr. Blair and a few others brought to book on suspicion of war crimes! That was perhaps the more stupid and even bizarre part of my dream, though I dreamt it nevertheless. And what did that boil down to? Having stood accused of double dealing his way through ten years at Number 10 and having firmly established the principle that two truths are as good as one whole truth it seems that for some inexplicable reason European presidents, prime ministers and chancellors are equally convinced that Mr. Blair is somehow uniquely suited to lead the great political Union of Europe. Indeed, in my dream it seems that holding with all democratic principles that are so closely and jealously guarded with respect to Afghanistan and Iraq, Tony Blair managed to become President of Europe without a single ordinary voting citizen in the Union being involved. My goodness, even Hamid Karzai and Robert Mugabe, despite all their many political misgivings and failures, can at least lay claim to a reasonable proportion of the popular vote!
Still, this was after all only a very horrible dream – it couldn’t happen for real could it?
So there you have it – a fascinating dream that somehow managed to put Tony Blair in the top spot in Brussels as President of the European Union. This a man who just like his successor in Number 10 relied on more special advisors to make decisions for him than you or I have had hot dinners. A man about whom it has been said that the only reason his chancellor, Gordon Brown, was so independent, stubborn and so powerful was because the man resident at Number 10 didn’t actually have a clue what happened or indeed what was supposed to happen at Number 11. OK, so that was part of the same unfortunate dream too, but it begged another question to be answered – who was going to advise Mr Blair now that he had achieved his great dream of being President of Europe, playing the diplomacy role on the world stage? This is where the extremely funny if perhaps most frightening part of this dream came in – how about the man that Tony Blair probably trusts more than any other, a man that really does have more hands-on experience of the European Union high office than perhaps any other in Britain and one who interestingly has special experience of running important departments without having been elected? This someone that despite all the odds, despite the gravity of various accusations, despite having been virtually hounded from office in the past, having been forced to resign at other times whether guilty or not. Yet this is a man with an amazing ability to bounce back. Talk about nine lives – this cat has at least a couple of dozen! I refer of course to the vision of the man that appeared in my dream – the original, the one and only Prince of Darkness himself – a man who in my dream bore an uncanny likeness to the Right Honourable Lord Peter Benjamin Mandelson who currently sits as First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, President of the Board of Trade and Lord President of the Council. Yes, I am sure that you can see it just as simply as I did. Once released from the toils of state office in the UK, as likely as not come the General Election around May next year, the good Lord Mandelson may find himself very quickly drawn back to the lovely city of Brussels assuming the role of puppeteer in chief to the unelected Commander in Chief, Tony Blair. Yuk. And with that awful thought, up in smoke went any semblance of belief that I may previously have had of the European Union one day becoming a fair and democratic institution. Well, either that or it was the formerly wretched now blessed alarm clock going off which, thank god, allowed me to come to my senses realising that all this is after all merely just a dream…
Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at brokers BGC Partners