Rumours are reaching me via Twitter that Baroness Ashton, UK Labour politician and outgoing Commissioner for Trade is the individual the socialists are now backing to be the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy. I must say I am astounded.
Let me at least set the record straight about what I think about Ashton. I was not immensely positive about her appointment to the Commission just over a year ago (I even questioned the legality of the appointment), but since then I think she has been OK. I happened to hear her speak a few weeks ago in Brussels and was genuinely impressed by her approach. She was coherent, thoughtful and genuinely decent.
I’m also very happy that one of the top jobs is going to a woman.
But really, how will a top team of Barroso, Ashton and Van Rompuy look? None of them are remotely inspirational… Surely Barroso – Freiberga – Miliband or something like that would have been a better bet? The Belgian press are even confirming the news now. I was hopeful for something better than Barroso – Solana, but I am really not sure we have achieved that.
It’s an important responsibility. I honestly think that she will be decent. She seems competent and up to the task.
This is my point of view…quite different from yours
Her appointment depresses me. Not because I think there’s anything wrong with her – I don’t. I’m sure you’re right that she’s thoughtful and decent. I don’t doubt she can do this job.
But. There are lots of competent people in the world. Cathy Ashton has risen miraculously since 1997 through the patronage of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, plus now, international partisan and national wheeler-dealing. I don’t doubt for a moment that her personal qualities and competence have helped her get on, but none of her appointments have been through a procedure actually based on merit, and none have been by election either.
What message does it send, about Britain and about the EU, that this is the way to achieve such high office?