CND’s sole attraction was that its protesters went home every evening and never worked weekends. Alas, the EU is for twenty four hour party people, but the 9 to 5 spirit of Greenham Common lives on in the EU’s High Representative and one time CND Treasurer, Baroness Ashton. Conscious of her carbon footprint, the Baroness commutes between London and Brussels most days and never answers the telephone after 8pm. This thoroughly civilised existence is a little maddening for the EU flunkies who have to locate the fragrant Baroness when Hillary Clinton calls after office hours, which, due to the time difference, is a frequent occurrence. Another downside is that whilst commuting from London to Belgium everyday is demanding, shuttling back and forth between London and Haiti is simply inconceivable. Consequently, as every major foreign representative flew to Haiti on January 16th, the Baroness cleared her diary, took an early train and was home in time for Hollyoaks.
She defended her absence with an argument that displayed a rare command of the existential: “I’m neither a doctor, nor a fireman.” Of course you’re not Baroness; you’re the High Representative.
Her Haitian misadventures are but the cream of a vat of jests. She failed to attend a UN seminar organised by Ban ki Moon and Hillary Clinton - no doubt detained by leaves on the line or fluffy snow. Amid a world of multi-lingual emissaries Ashton speaks only barely fluent English, as proved when she could not express how much aid the EU had given to Haiti. Herman van Rompuy wants the EU to slither onto the global stage and speak with once voice; fortunately that voice is Ashton’s.
So congratulations Gordon, it was a masterstroke; less so the decision to increase British influence in the EU by securing the Foreign Minister’s job rather than the financial regular’s post.