Congratulations on a remarkable turnaround in the family fortunes. I was sorry you did not get the job two years ago but, on reflection, it was probably better this way. If you had been propelled from election defeat to the padded chair in Brussels without even passing 'Go', you can imagine the fuss there would have been: Bill Cash jumping up and down, the tabloids locked into their election mode of hating Kinnock. There would have been no peace.

And to have gone through the Westminster follies on Maastricht with you in Brussels would have allowed the Euro-sceptics to scream even louder about Brussels being another plot to smuggle Karl Marx in through the Channel ports. So, though it seemed mean at the time, I think the wait was probably worth it.

For one thing, it gave your public image a chance to recover. Even the Thatcherites must have noticed that, as ex-leaders go, you have behaved better than many. John Major would hardly be human if he had not noticed. I would not be surprised if he had occasionally drawn comparisons in your favour, wishing that a few of your qualities of generosity, discretion and loyalty to your successor had been on offer in his own dear party.

It has turned out to be a pretty dazzling year for the Kinnocks. You would have to be stony-hearted not to be pleased about Glenys's triumph in the Euro-elections and, I must say, you have both been a shining example of how to make a marriage survive adversity. I like to think of you nipping out to lunch together in Brussels and chatting about how your son Stephen is getting on in his research job.

About the salaries, though. I have noticed a bit of carping about this. You know the sort of thing: jumping on the gravy train. What has he ever done to deserve it? Calls himself a socialist] It is obvious to me that anyone who can revive the main opposition party to the point that we can take it seriously again, does everyone who hankers after a functioning democracy a favour. It is a rule of politics that too much power for too long in the same hands is a recipe for arbitrariness and corruption.

So enjoy the money. I would rather see a European Commissioner well paid out of my money than the directors of the water monopolies. So it's not the salary I begrudge. Like everybody else, I am a bit worried about the Euro corruption stories: there isn't a lot to be said for stealing. Perhaps you can bring an image-conscious politician's sensibility to how it looks from the outside. And if you ever show signs of losing sight of the outside world - a bit of a hazard in Brussels - I expect Glenys will remind you of how it plays back home.

I hope you use your time there well. You are lucky to get a chance at a whole new career at 52. Lots of people don't, as you are aware.

Who knows, you might even manage to make the Commission intelligible to the rest of us.

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