It has to be said, a name like Herman van Rompuy has a certain ring to it. It conjures up an image of gravitas, bearing, panache, a degree of jovial good humor, and has a bit of class about it. The reality though is the guy in the image on the left, who looks like a disheveled homeless person who has been picked up, dropped into a good suit, and plonked down in the halls of power with a bad case of dyspepsia. It’s a bit like calling a sparrow Hercules Swartznegger.
A frantic sex scandal couldn’t make this guy interesting, not that he is ever likely to have one. If he wanted to, it is unlikely that he would be able to find someone willing to share the experience. If he managed to, Fleet St which can, on a slow news day usually get a raunchy and sensational headline out of rabbits getting it off, would probably decide that he is just too dull for readers to be bothered with.
What we can be grateful to him for though, is that he has given us an excuse to repost the second best video from the European parliament, Nigel Farage’s ‘Who are you’ speech. The best is of course Daniel Hannan’s ‘Devalued prime minister’ speech, but I digress. Farage has been fined £2,400 (AUD 3,750) for pointing out Herman’s shortcomings:The Daily Mail has the story:
The European Parliament has upheld a £2,400 fine against UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage. The MEP was docked the money in 2010 for tearing into Herman Van Rompuy, who had just been appointed EU president.
Addressing the former Belgian premier in parliament, Mr Farage said he had ‘the charisma of a damp rag’ and the ‘appearance of a low-grade bank clerk’ As Mr Van Rompuy listened, Mr Farage added that the Belgian came from 'pretty much a non-country.'**
Jerzy Buzek, the then parliamentary chief, ordered Mr Farage to apologise. He refused and the authorities cut €3,000 from his pay. He appealed to the European Court of Justice but it ruled that he filed his appeal too late and would also have to pay parliament's legal expenses.
Mr Farage was unrepentant last night, saying: ‘They have made themselves a laughing stock over this. It is a simple question of free speech.’Given the insults thrown at UKIP by members of the European parliament, it hardly seems unreasonable for Farage to hand out a tongue-lashing. Taking this action against him is totally unjustified, and an exercise in the unjustified use of power for power’s sake.
** This statement was made during a prolonged period of political instability in Belgium, including an eighteen month period during which no government was formed.