TWO curious headlines have caught my eye in the past two days. The first: Cameron happy to see a President Blair. The second: Tories support Beckett as Speaker. Goodness gracious. Have the Conservatives so lost confidence in themselves that they can find no one better than Tony Blair to suggest as President of the Council of Ministers of the European Union and are also prepared to vote for one of Labour's longest-serving ministers for Speaker in preference to their very own John Bercow MP or Sir George Young MP or Sir John Haselhurst MP or Sir Patrick Cormack MP - or even, at a pinch, Ann Widdecombe as a short-term occupant of the post? John Bercow, the youngest candidate, is said to be still favourite to win because Labour back-benchers like him and his political outlook has swung from the centre right, which he followed when he visited the Conservatives Abroad here ten years ago, to almost centre left. But he may have shown too great an eagerness for the job. Margaret Beckett? Surely not - a moderately safe pair of hands since the mid-70s Callaghan government, her best days must be past. As for Tony Blair in a key EU role, it hardly seems likely that the Conservatives would want anyone who might just make the EU work a little better than it does at the moment. I hear there is an intriguing rumour that Felipe Gonzales may be the man for the job.
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