Thursday 29 December 2016

The Return of Dave

He's been gone five minutes, and already he's poised for a comeback. According to The Indy, David Cameron is Theresa May's nomination for the next NATO general secretary. This, according to Michael Fallon, is part of a move that would deepen Britain's commitment to the alliance to make up for Brexit. Presumably that would involve an extra spending commitment. After all, ways have to be found for blowing that phantom Leave dividend.

A Briton has held the secretary generalship on three occasions. The last was George Robertson who, according to rumour, was placed there by His Blairness to avoid newspaper attention. The position is granted by a consensus among member states and, typically, the candidate who can win US backing gets in. There are some things that commend Dave for this role. NATO secretary general is a bit of a non-job. It involves fronting the alliance to the press, chairs a number of committees and some staff management duties, which can easily get palmed off on the deputy. Given Dave's recklessness, we should be grateful it has no decision-making powers. For someone who never did detail and whose only talent was was to look the part, Dave would fit this job like a snake slipping into a sack. Trotting about the world stage and looking ever-so-important, it's enough to bring the green eyes out in Tony Blair.

There are some issues though. As the strongest and most sophisticated military power in NATO after the United States, he might be a shoe-in. But then again, politics could get in the way. The EU is separate, but politics always overspills. Only fool liberals think it respects institutional boundaries. In the five months since Theresa May entered Downing Street, her foreign secretary has spent his time swaggering around Europe insulting allies and stupidly snubbing meetings of his continental counterparts. Not the most auspicious start to a campaign of glad handing if May is to get her man in position. Then there's the unforeseen fall out from Brexit negotiations. No one yet knows how smooth or bumpy they're going to be, but at some point they will involve frank exchanges, frayed tempers, unreasonable behaviours, and perhaps the odd falling out. Some of which are bound to affect Dave's chances.

The nomination also says a few things about the Prime Minister's nous deficiency. She might have concluded that giving Dave a grace and favour job will prevent him being a future annoyance, a la Blair's tendency to repeat. But, excuse me, was May so buried in the Home Office that she didn't notice what was going on during the last six years? Her then boss time and again scored cheap populist points for short-term gain, alternately acting like a petulant brat and then pleading for special treatment and, by losing the referendum, has exacerbated the crisis tendencies in the EU project. Only Nigel Farage would be less acceptable, politically speaking. Plenty of commentators have talked up the differences between May and Dave, but they have one thing in common: all plays second fiddle to the immediate interests of the Conservative Party.

Whether Dave is able to waltz into this plum job or not remains to be seen, but it appears the politics are against him. And as, once again, it demonstrates May's cluelessness, this most unwelcome of Christmas time surprises doesn't bode well for her oversight and direction of the Brexit negotiations.


johnny conspiranoid said...

Tory benches; the talent's just not there.

asquith said...

I can't be arsed to express the reasons why I've come to hate him, so here's Tyrion Lannister speaking for us all:

Robert said...

About the only good thing about Brexit was that it terminated Dave.