Sunday, June 05, 2005


Like Tony Blair in his long lost days of hope and glory, Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Union, looks like a decent ‘straightforward sort of a guy.’

Though his dark hair resembles a toupee, there’s nothing scary or alarming about his slightly squat face. In fact, he looks so ordinary he seems like a man you could easily run into in a supermarket helping his wife with the weekend family shopping.

But, as Britain has discovered with Blair, looks can be deceptive.

Despite stiff competition from massive political egos, Mr Barroso, a former Portuguese Prime Minister, is easily the most arrogant man in Europe.

His reaction to the French and Dutch No votes to the proposed European constitution is best summed up: the people have used their democratic right to vote but their verdict will not hamper his determination to get his way.

‘That’s your opinion,’ he retorts when challenged by journalists that the constitution, which needs to be ratified by all twenty-five member states, is dead in the water. And he even has the nerve to claim he ‘respects’ the people’s right.

But what else would you expect? Mr Barroso is simply the latest personification of the hubris and hauteur and contempt for ordinary people which has hallmarked the EU from the start. The unelected Commission decides, makes rules, issues Directives and rides roughshod over the virtually impotent European Parliament. The people can like it or lump it. What do they know? They can’t even vote the right way.

Mr Barroso, his predecessors and colleagues have always arrogantly asserted they know best. Otherwise no one would have asked that fake French aristocrat, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, to preside over drawing up the doomed constitution intended as a charter for the United States of Europe.

Now they have got what they deserve.

For decades they have chosen to ignore the tectonic plates rumbling away beneath them. The earthquake and consequent political tsunami now sweeping across Europe are the long overdue responses to their unbridled arrogance.

Right now Mr Barroso, like many European leaders, is in shock and desperately fumbling around over what to do next – and who to blame for the fiasco in France and Holland, both founder members of the EU.

The claim that the No votes were not really against the wretched constitution but just signals of domestic discontent is a bit like saying a person who suffers a heart attack has a bad dose of indigestion.
Though there is certainly unhappiness at home in both France and Holland, at least some of it is both the direct and indirect result of EU policies.
The arrogant Mr Barroso needs to go on a diet of humble pie. Instead of trying to scapegoat governments for not telling people enough about the European Project, he should get off his derriere in his plush executive suite in Brussels and tell them himself.
He has got a lot of explaining to do.
* * * * *
One of the biggest causes of sore eyes among television viewers is the number of unattractive men who hog the news because they run the world.
Despite eye and face lifts, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s podgy, pugnacious mug is still threatening enough to frighten children.
German leader Gerard Schroeder’s permanent heavy frown gives him a thuggish look. No sane person would want to meet him after dark, even on a brightly lit street.
With his barrelling gait and beer gut, Israeli PM Ariel looks like a drunken sailor.

Even with the contact lenses which have replaced his glasses, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw is the epitome of old Soviet style drabness.

America’s balding Vice President Dick Cheney and wannabe UN ambassador, Saddam Hussain look-alike John Bolton, would do viewers a favour if they put their heads in bags before they appeared in front of the TV cameras.

So it’s a relief to see Dominique de Villepin back on the global news scene as France’s new Prime Minister. With his tall, elegant, graceful figure and silvered hair framing his handsome head, he is pure eye candy.

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton 2005 All Rights Reserved