Sunday, 22 November 2009

Brown and Out

Reflection will show that the denial of European office to Blair, Mandelson, and Miliband is more than a series of separated events. It is interesting to consider who denied the Third Way Troika. Interesting for United Kingdom politics and interesting for the wider discussion that is taking place on what is happening to social democracy in Europe.

When Blair told Brown that he could not take the EU presidency clearly a Plan B was needed. There are only five social democratic member-state leaders left, out of the 27 direct electors (although at the time the plan for these two offices was formulated, at the very end of the last century, social democrats held the majority of the then eighteen member-states): Austria, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, which are grouped as European Socialists. Despite this it had been agreed that the centre left could nominate the High Representative for Foreign affairs (in recognition of the still reasonably large social democratic constituencies in all 27 member-states) without, ostensibly, interference from the electors to the Presidency who would come from the centre right. One side would accept the other side's nominee.

Blair then lost it. Brown was threatened with proceeding to an immediate vote of all the electors if he did not at once withdraw the United Kingdom's nomination of Blair, and a consequent major humiliation (from both social democrats and from the centre right). Unsurprisingly he ran away in the face of a vote being taken on Blair's candidacy although he pretended to continue to support it until last Thursday, thus obstructing both the proper development of an agreed Plan B and, in true brownian fashion, arrogating the Pan B choice to himself (at least as far as any other input from the UK was concerned).

Even with Blair out, the Third Way neoliberals posing as social democrats could have gained almost the same position in Europe if Mandelson took the High Representative post and Miliband remained in London to deal with Brown once the mandelsonian Sword and Shield of the Party was withdrawn. This would have had the doubly desirable effect of replacing Brown, thus giving some fighting chance to Labour in any general election, and advancing the post democratic progressive Project in both Europe and the UK. Reports that Mandelson was canvassing independently for the High Representative post in past days without even informing Brown, never mind with Brown's support or even agreement, are telling.

The atlanticist aspect of the Third Way, as well, is underlined by the unlikely expressions of admiration and support coming from Mrs Clinton for David Miliband. But open as the European Union is to being on the best of terms with the US, its inner driving force is not atlanticist: it is ever closer union. Brown's driving force of self-preservation coincided with the Union's driving force to exclude both challenges to major member-state power and foreign policy challenges to the Union's desired identity and its economic power. Even European social democracy no longer identifies the Third Way as the way forward.

And what of Brown now? On Europe he not only has nothing more to give - he has actively withheld. He has no allies in a European social democracy that remains insulted at the candidate he foisted onto the Union in their name. He has infuriated the United States with his constant preempting of President Obama's choices. His departure would revive Labour's electoral fortunes and remove a notably disliked tendency from any power within the Party. His last weapon - to call a general election forthwith which Labour would lose grows weaker with every passing day (and we all know what a week is in politics). It is hard to think of anything that will stop his removal at his many enemies' earliest convenience.


Nick Drew said...

and so our caravan moves on to Copenhagen

will Brown even get a kitchen meeting with Obama this time ? behind the bike sheds ?

Nick Drew said...

incidentally, there is another thing about Brown - he is at least a player, however inept and unwanted, if only by dint of always hanging around

this is quite dangerous because just by being in the game it is usually posible to scoop up some dividend - a matter of pity or politesse on the part of the other players

which he then banks, and rushes to the next event, being wholy shameless and impervious to the indignity of it all

The Blairs' modus operandi has been the same

let me through *elbow elbow* the world owes me something Very Big

tireless, shameless and with a burning sense of entitlement

beats talent and dignity, grace and nobility all too often

Bill Quango MP said...

You're right.
Mr weak has been a too long a time in politics.
But he'll still be here in May.
Still in charge, and stronger and mouthing the most outrageous lies ever told.