1999 – the year I tipped Tony Blair to become the first President of Europe

by Stephen Tall on October 28, 2009

All this talk of Tony Blair becoming the first President of the European Union reminded me of one of my first forays into political journalism …

It was an article I wrote for the Oxford University student magazine, Isis, in Trinity (ie, Spring) 1999. I don’t suppose I was the first to posit the suggestion, but here’s what my concluding paragraph said:

Blair - PresEU - 1999

That paragraph is, sadly, the only part of the article which truly stands the test of time. The rest of it celebrates Tony Blair’s constitutional revolution – yes, really:

Devolution is, as yet, the most substantial of Blair’s achievements as well as being one of the most important domestic events this century, 1999 marking the first ever elections to Scottish and Welsh parliaments.

My naivety wasn’t totally wide-eyed:

… this Government is giving every appearance of starring in its own badly dubbed film. You could swear that the main character declares, “New millennium, New Labour: let’s try a pluralist, political system”. Yet all that can be heard is the desperate cry, “Batten down the hatches and prepare to centralise power like you’ve never centralised it before.”

But I had a touching, almost Whiggish, conviction in the inevitability of progress. Constitutional reform, I confidently predicted more than 10 years ago, “has its own momentum”:

… the outdated banner of first-past-the-post, which condemns to obscurity parties unable to concentrate their support in particular regions and elevates to supremacy parties unable to secure the support of the majority of the electorate, [will] be torn down … two-party politics is out and two-party government is in.

Ah well. The idealism of youth, eh?

You can read the article in full, if you wish, by clicking here.