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Tony the Tiger's Grrrrreeeat Speech

June 29, 2005|Judy Dugan

British Prime Minister Tony Blair's forceful speech on the future of Europe, of which this editorial page speaks admiringly today, still reverberates around the continent as well.

The German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel, in a commentary published Monday, makes a rude comparison between the continent's stodgy leadership and the vigorous Blair: "[F]urious appearances of the type made by the British prime minister have become rare in Brussels and Strasbourg. And next to the golden boy from the British Isles, the leadership of the European Union comes off gray and grumpy."

Of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the weekly concludes: "Schroeder, who once portrayed himself as a modernizer, now stands side by side with [French President Jacques] Chirac as representatives of the old guard.... [They] come off like two drowning men grasping onto each other just to stay afloat."

Britain is on to a new controversy: Blair's proposal for national identity cards (a debate the U.S. has sidestepped for now).

The liberal Independent sniffs today: "The government's plan to introduce biometric identity cards was always a thoroughly bad idea and it has not improved with time."

The Guardian also objects furiously. But a Guardian commentator, Martin Kettle, still reflects, in some awe, on Blair's EU speech. "[Blair] has rarely articulated the modern balance between economic efficiency and social justice better than he did in Brussels last week.... [H]is government, despite all its failings, is successfully securing a viable new definition of that fundamental relationship at the heart of British public life."

Judy Dugan

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