Daily Archives: February 4, 2008

Jim Pickard

It’s 8pm and Frank Field has just emerged from the weekly Parliamentary Labour Party meeting with the threat of disciplinary action hanging over him. His supposed wrongdoing? Lending his name to a campaign for unofficial referenduFrank_fieldms on the Lisbon Treaty run by a group called "I Want A Referendum" (Iwar).

Iwar are spending £300,000 carrying out a handful of ballots (asking if people agree with the treaty) in marginal constituencies around the UK. 

I’ve been tipping Tony Blair to be the first "president of Europe" since 2002 – when the creation of the job was just a twinkle in his eye – so I’m delighted the former PM is taking soundings about whether the post will be worthy of his political talents. No doubting his self-confidence, is there?

Back in 2002 I remember being told that Mr Blair thought the creation of a full-time president of the European Council – the supreme body of the EU – was the most important thing to get written into the new EU constitution, now rebranded the Treaty of Lisbon. 

It is rare and wonderful thing to hear a close confidant of Gordon Brown answer the "vision thing". Ever since the prime minister ducked out of calling an early election, citing his "vision for change", the question has been: have we seen it yet?

When asked, Mr Brown usually trots out the same legislative programme he outlined before the election decision. So it was intriguing to hear Douglas "wee Dougie" Alexander, one of Mr Brown’s closest political advisers, give a fuller response in an interview with the BBC on Sunday. He basically says a big vision is made up of small steps. It certainly has a whiff of self-justification — after all, Mr Alexander has not been popular with many Labour MPs since Gordon Brown’s fortunes turned. Here is the full transcript.