April 27, 2010
Just a quick note on the second televised leaders’ debate in the UK last week – in which something struck us about Nick Clegg’s description of his previous working experience (see here 11’20 in):
“I worked in my previous life, before going into politics, for a while as a negotiator on behalf of all of us, on behalf of Britain and the European Union, negotiating trade deals, with the Chinese government, with the Russian government and others. And what I noticed there was that Chinese and the Russians, they only listened to what we were saying, because I was representing the largest single market in the world – of 475 million consumers.”
Something about this statement didn’t quite ring true – and it was the impression that he gave that his job as a trade negotiator was somehow a ‘non-political job’, outside the bubbles in Westminster and Brussels. But the problem is that this job was for the European Commission – not an institution that can reasonably be described as apolitical or somehow ‘above politics’.
See this interview, for example, with the President of the European Court of Justice Vassilios Skouris with the Financial Times in 2004, saying that “the Commission is a political body with the right of initiative.”
And, as we’ve argued at length before, the Commission is the institution which takes it upon itself to aggressively promote its own ideas on ‘ever closer union’, and which at times more closely resembles a political lobby group with its own agenda.
Chris Huhne was also peddling the same line on the Today programme – denying that Nick Clegg was a political insider, having held “serious jobs outside politics” – which John Humphrys wasn’t having any of.
It may appear a technical point – but the suggestion that working for the Commission somehow represents a job outside the political world is utterly laughable.Open Europe blog team