X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

How do you solve a problem like Baroness Ashton?

20 March 2012

1:44 PM

20 March 2012

1:44 PM

Baroness Ashton has managed a return to diplomatic form by comparing the murder yesterday of three children and a Rabbi
at a Jewish school in Toulouse with ‘what is happening in Gaza.’ Plenty of people have already deplored her comments. But they present an opportunity to address one of the underlying
and too infrequently asked questions of our time: if you do not think Ashton is a very good politician, what can you do about it?

Ordinarily if a politician says or does something you do not like we, the electorate, are at some point given the opportunity to vote them out. There used to be considerable pride in this
arrangement. But Catherine Ashton is part of a new class of people who pretend to be politicians while never having to face the electorate on whose behalf they claim to speak. Though Ashton is the
European Union’s High Representative on Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (EU Foreign Minister) she has herself never been elected to this — or any — role. She was appointed to
it in a closed room in Brussels by a group of people who are also, like her, not accountable to any electorate. Just as we did not vote her in, so we cannot vote her out. If anybody can explain why
this is a good arrangement I honestly would like to hear it.

[Alt-Text]


It may be that there exists someone, somewhere, who thinks that Catherine Ashton is a Foreign Minister of whom we can be proud. But even that person should wonder what they would think if sometime
in the future we were unfortunate enough to have forced upon us a Foreign Minister who lacked Ashton’s political and diplomatic skills.

In other words, the problem is not simply the occupant — the problem is the role. Even if every citizen of every EU country disliked Catherine Ashton intensely, and found her unimaginably
embarrassing and inept, she would remain our ‘representative’ on Foreign Affairs. This seems to me a democratic problem which is worth addressing.

(Incidentally, for me the problem was crystallised when I bumped into Ashton while holidaying in Ramallah last summer. As I returned to the forecourt of my hotel I saw a cavalcade of ten to fifteen
identical armour-plated vehicles. It looked like President Obama was visiting, possibly with the Queen and Pope in tow. The whole area was brought to a standstill when down the steps, flanked by
scores of security personnel and advisors stepped Catherine Ashton and her entourage. I stepped out of the way and watched first with curiosity then with sadness as they climbed into their convoy
and roared past.  Three questions lodged, and stayed, in my head: who on earth is she going to see? What on earth is she going to tell them? And on whose behalf will they believe her to be
speaking?)

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close