Friday, June 24, 2005

Ban the trumpets

My wail of frustration in my overnight posting, occasioned by the dire commentary on Blair's speech in The Times, is in part assuaged by the leader in The Telegraph today.

Unlike the Thunderer – more like the Whimperer – the Telegraph takes on Blair's vacuous speech with the heading: "Europe needs hard decisions, not hot air." In so doing, it picks up his one of his more egregious clich├ęs, "In every crisis there is an opportunity," suggesting that he might have added: "for flights of rhetoric".

It also picks up another "striking line from the speech": "The people are blowing the trumpets around the city walls." Blair's advice was that the politicians should leave the fortress and offer the people the "leadership" which, apparently, they demand. But this, says the Telegraph, is a curious reworking of the story. According to the Bible, it was not Jericho's leadership which Israel demanded, but its submission. The trumpets are indeed blowing, and the EU does not have long to comply.

Interestingly, Andrew Gimson, in the Telegraph's parliamentary sketch picks up this "arresting phrase", noting that "some of us started to feel a bit nervous". We looked around at the walls of the vast, circular parliament chamber, he writes, and wondered whether they were about to collapse. But try as we might, we could not hear the people blowing their trumpets above the sound of Mr Blair blowing his own trumpet.

As to the response of the MEPs, one can imagine that, unlike the denizens of Jericho who succumbed to the sound of trumpets, even now they will be crafting an amendment to the physical agents directive, banning the use of trumpets within 1km of their walls. As for anything more substantive, the EU is a machine without a stop button. It is going to take more than trumpets, whether from Blair or the rest of us, to bring it down.

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