Tony Blair appeared on the Today programme on Tuesday morning to talk about Europe. The televised version showed him against the backdrop of the Brandenburg Gate. He said somewhat predictable things about Ukip being bad and a reformed Europe being good. The mystery was ‘Why?’ Why was he intervening at this point? It took me several hours to puzzle out a possible answer. It lies, I suggest, in his statement that the European project used to be ‘about peace’ and now it is ‘about power’. He was speaking at the beginning of the week when the contest for the presidency of the European Commission comes to a head. Mr Blair emphasised that the socialists in the parliament had done better in the elections than the conservatives. He went out of his way to say nice things about Nick Clegg, thus pleasing the liberals. He knows that the two leading candidates for the presidency are not much favoured, and that nowadays the president can be nominated by the European parliament without support from his own country’s government. ‘The EU needs leadership from someone who understands power,’ was his subliminal message, ‘and just such a person is speaking to you right now.’

GoveThis is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator’s Notes in this week’s magazine. Click here to read for free with a trial of The Spectator app for iPad and iPhone. You can also subscribe with a free trial on the Kindle Fire.

Tags: Brandenburg Gate, EU, Nick Clegg, President of the European Commission, Tony Blair