There’s a scene in the second of the Lethal Weapon series of films where Murtagh (Danny Glover) and Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) create a fracas in the apartheid era South African consulate in Los Angeles so that Riggs (Mel Gibson) can gain entrance through another door. Joe Pesci asks the South African consular official to talk his friend (Danny Glover) out of emigrating to the most beautiful country in the world. The official is confused. That is until Murtagh is introduced; at which point the official utters in disbelief “But…but…you’re blek”. Mayhem ensues as Glover’s character starts protesting against apartheid.
I was reminded of this scene this morning upon reading an Observer piece on whether Tony Blair should become the first President of the European Council. There are some good arguments in the article both for and against. (For the record I am for). However, it was the only non-British European quoted in the piece that caught my attention. Pier Luigi Bersani, an Italian opposition politician, states the following against Tony Blair’s candidature:
“Tony Blair is a personality with a formidable reputation on the European stage who has always enjoyed a very good relationship with Italy. I have always admired him, despite differences over the war in Iraq. However, when it comes to considering him as a candidate for the European presidency, it needs to be underlined that the UK is not in the Schengen Agreement, nor part of the Euro zone and is therefore not central to the process of European integration. Blair is a splendid man but possibly not the right candidate for this job.”
For Bersani at least it would appear that Tony’s actions in the Iraq war, or indeed his stature as an undeniable political heavyweight, matter not a jot. Much as we all might want to debate them. To state the obvious, he’s simply the wrong nationality. It’s a bit like a Danny Glover’s character wanting to emigrate to 1980s South Africa. Until our relationship with Europe is sorted out once and for all, Britain is unlikely to get the top job.
Which leaves us with one question. While Tony is causing all this mayhem, who and where is Riggs?