The main response to the nomination of Lord Hill for European commissioner was widely described as incomprehension. This was literally true; nobody understood who he was. But they didn’t fail to understand because Hill is so obscure, but rather because they were ignorant.
Martin Schulz, for example, made a fool of himself as follows:
“I cannot imagine Hill, whose views – in as far as he’s got any – are radically anti-European, getting a majority in the European Parliament,” the parliament president had said….”Today friends told me that Mr Hill is a rather pro-European person by UK standards. I’m very pleased with that,” the German Social Democrat said.
If you asked me I’d have said that as a minister, he was a significant gatekeeper for lobbyists, the 4th highest on that metric among UK-wide ministers. This was especially telling as his network degree was relatively low – people could probably access him fairly easily and get escalated to somebody important.
Financial Times predicts that hearing of designate UK Commissioner "Lord" Hill may focus on Hill's past as a lobbyist http://t.co/MFN2qjM11a
— Erik Wesselius (@erikwesselius) July 15, 2014
The explanation for Hill’s lobby-ability turns out, per FT, to be that he is a professional lobbyist himself, having represented Bell Pottinger or rather its clients before founding his own lobbying firm, Quiller, which he later sold to Huntsworth for a lot of money. Now I didn’t know that, but at least I correctly diagnosed the problem.
Also, David Cameron’s appointments process is still unimprovably awful:
Two former financial journalists, Patience Wheatcroft and Sarah Hogg, were also considered by Mr Cameron but were deemed not to have the political skills needed to work in Brussels.