Baroness Ashton, the EU's Foreign Minister recently said: "You know the European Union has, at its heart, democracy, the rule of law, human rights -- these are our values and we believe these must be respected by the Egyptian authorities."
However, for all her fine words about democracy, Ms Ashton has never been elected to anything in her life. Yet she holds one of the most powerful positions in the EU. Should the Baroness really lecture Egypt, or anyone, about democracy?
Although she has never been elected to so much as a town council, she was appointed a peer in 1999 by Tony Blair, meaning that she has made British laws in the House of Lords. It seems she prefers to do her lawmaking unelected.
Baroness Ashton has also been criticized for suggesting that she'd like to have her own EU-funded airplane. However, according to The Times:
"If they give her a plane then José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission President, will want one. And if they give Barroso one, then Herman van Rompuy, the European Council President will want one," said one EU diplomat. "Or they will try to commandeer hers."
According to the UK's Independent newspaper, the Baroness is unpopular in Brussels: "She very badly and urgently needs a success story or she will lose this image war," a senior diplomat in Brussels said. "At first people were inclined to be kind and wait for her to come good. But she is keeping them waiting a little too long."
Last year Lady Ashton was vociferously criticized for returning to Britain to visit her family on the same day that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Port-au-Prince after the Haiti earthquake. "It smacks of amateurism, even incompetence," the French paper Liberation, wrote.
The Baroness has been involved with a number of of left-wing organizations in the UK and was heavily involved with CND in the 1980s. UKIP Chairman Nigel Farage even dug up her past in the European Parliament, and accused Ms Ashton of accepting funds from one-time nemesis of democracy, the Soviet Union, in her capacity as treasurer of CND, an organisation which some believe may have received Soviet funds during the cold war (CND denies this allegation).
However, Mr Farage said: "She was treasurer during a period when CND took very large donations and refused to reveal the sources. Will Baroness Ashton deny that while she was treasurer she took funds from organizations opposed to Western-style democracy? Are we really happy that somebody who will be in charge of our overseas security policy was an activist in an outfit like CND?" Mr Farage also called her a pygmy.
Baroness Ashton has denied all claims. She has blamed much of the widespread criticism on "latent sexism" amongst her European peers.
Follow Rory Fitzgerald on Twitter: www.twitter.com/roryfitzgerald