Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Economist backs my campaign (ish)

In a remarkable development, international uber-mag The Economist took time off from reminding its readers that Indonesia is at a crossroads and (almost) backed my campaign.
'What France needs,' it said, 'is a homme de fer' before (almost) going on to add 'and Victor Latrine is just such a man.'
Whilst not actually mentioning me by name, I think that anyone reading the article would see this as a clear nod in my direction. They were also pretty scathing about Le Petit Nicolas and Her Royal Highness.
Expect more opinion formers to follow suit pretty damn tootsweet.
I thank you for your attention
LibEgFrat to you all

Monday, October 30, 2006

Taking exception

When France wants to pick and choose which international rules it has to obey it often cites 'the French exception' or its special sub-class 'the French cultural exception'. These exceptions refer to the supposed right of France to protect its economy from the rules of globalisation and its culture from the advance of (largely American) English speaking cultural output.

These terms, presumably, are meant to have three effects.
  • First, they allow the French to opt out of certain obligations, simply by virtue of asserting that they are somehow different.
  • Secondly, they make (some) French people feel better about themselves -- by the implication that there is something exceptional about France.
  • Thirdly, they help perpetuate the demonisation of the US and UK (I refuse to use the adjective anglo-saxon to refer to anything other than an historical period).
This is all so much phooey.

Both 'exceptions' are undermined by the massive paradox that they create: a strong and vibrant economy or culture does not need this sort of protection, a weak and atrophied economy or culture doesn't merit this sort of protection.

Simply put, the exceptions have no theoretical justification.

A claim could be made for a practical justification if this sort of thinly disguised protectionism served the best interests of France. It just doesn't.

In fact, the exception myths serve only to build a destructive isolationism, damaging the very culture and economy that are supposed to be basking in their benevolent protection.

Protecting 'national' companies from foreign takeover bids may allow politicians to puff out their chests and grab a few ratings points from the extreme right, but it surely doesn't do anything to encourage greater inward investment.

Pushing the timeframe of EU electricity and gas market deregulation to, and beyond, the agreed limits, to protect the monopolies of those corporate dinosaurs EDF and GDF (whilst at the same time allowing these companies to go charging into foreign markets) might appease the unions, but it does nothing for French consumers or businesses, and what's worse it does considerable damage to France's image abroad.

Imposing a quota for French music to be played on the country's radio stations hasn't made France's radio stations any more entertaining and certainly hasn't made French music any better or any more successful internationally.

The deception wrought by this misguided protectionism is particularly cruel and particularly harmful when we consider just which culture the cultural exception seeks to protect. It is certainly not the culture of the inner cities. Not the culture of the immigrant. Not the culture of the young and the different. Instead it is some miasmic version of a French culture that has never really existed. It is some warped and restrictive collation of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Johnny Hallyday and Louis de Funes.

The 'exceptions' are destructive mirages that choke and strangle French business and culture. They are typical of the sort of half-baked solutions brought forward by the failed technocratic ENArchy.

What I will pursue, when elected, is not 'the French exception' but an exceptional France.

What I will ensure, when elected, is not 'the French cultural exception' but a culture that reflects the vibrant, diverse and powerful country that France will become under my leadership.

I will support businesses by reforming the private pension system, encouraging a real venture capital industry and eliminating the bureaucratic hell that kills so many fresh and bright entrepreneurial ideas in their infancy. More importantly, I will encourage the creation of strong world-beating companies by exposing the entire economy to real competition. Unlike the ENArchy I believe that France can succeed without being molly-coddled.

Children grow stronger by being allowed to play in the fresh air -- not by being kept inside under wraps.

I will support the real culture of France through grass roots financing that goes to artists not administrators, to buskers not bureacrats. Funding that reaches all sectors of society and encourages them all to express themselves to the full.

I'll say it again ('cos I thought it was rather neat the first time round)
No to the French Exception
Yes to an Exceptional France

I thank you for your attention

LibEgFrat to you all


Sometimes bumbling incompetence in government agencies can go so far as to become really quite sweet.
Consider this list of frequently asked questions from the French Constitutional Council.
Lots of questions, only one answer!
You couldn't make it up.
It'll all change when I'm at the helm.
I thank you for your attention
LibEgFrat to you all

Little Sarko blocks my path!

In my bid to become President of France, so that I can sort the place out, I thought that I should check out the dates and suchlike for the election.
What better place to look than the French Interior Ministry website -- the realm of Little Sarko himself.
Imagine my surprise when I found that the 'guide du candidat' for the forthcoming presidential elections is still not ready.
There might be alternative explanations for this, but to my mind it is a clear attempt by Little Sarko too protect himself from the opponent he fears most -- Me!
I thank you for your attention
LibEgFrat to you all (even the former Mayor of Neuilly)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I suspect I might find myself saying this again

I'm sure this won't be the last time I say this, but it's important to say it nonetheless.
If I make a criticism of France -- and I will do plenty of this as my campaign gathers momentum -- this does not imply that I believe that things are any better in Britain, or in any other country for that matter.
So if I say, 'French public services are a mess' this means that I think that French public services are a mess, not that I think British public services are spiffing, or that they do things so much better in Norway.
If I want to compare aspects of the situation in France with things elsewhere, then I will do so explicitly.
That is all.
Oh, and by the way, French public services are a mess!
Thank you for your attention
LibEgFrat to you all

Saturday, October 28, 2006

My credentials

Who, you might ask, is this Victor fella, to go spouting his mouth off about the state of France?
And a bloody good question that would be.
Well I'll tell you who, because to do otherwise would be to risk getting drawn into an endless spiral of rhetorical questions and exemplary answers.
To the extent that I have had an adult life (arguments for: my age; arguments against: my behaviour) I have spent much of it in France. I have lived, worked, loved, eaten, laughed, wept, sired children, disgraced myself and redeemed myself all within the confines of 'continental' France -- I dread to think what would happen if ever I visited the charmingly-named Dom-Tom.
I have watched France from the outside in and the inside in.
I have (though I'm a little ashamed to admit it) travelled more widely in France than I have in my native England.
I have rented and owned (in fact still own) property in the country, and have experienced the all the joys of dealing with the various arms of the French machine that doing either will bring.
I speak fluent -- although heavily accented (on purpose) -- French.
I read French newspapers, press releases, economic and political analysis and even translate some of it into English.
I have professional qualifications in France.
I have, at various times in their lives, entrusted my two children to the care of the French medical and educational systems.
I think this adds up to qualification enough.
Enough to analyse the state of the country.
Enough to set out my manifesto for change.
Enough to attract a very substantial book deal.
Enough to warrant a massive populist campaign on my behalf.
Enough to accept the grateful votes of a bewildered and disappointed electorate.
The rest, citizens of France, is in your hands.

I thank you for your attention
LibEgFrat to you all

My manifesto for France!!

Everyone else, it would seem, is having a crack at saying what should be done with poor old France, so I thought I'd stick my oar in.
Over the next few days and weeks I'll jot down my thoughts on the malaise that is affecting the hoary old hexagon, slowly building up a positive and thoughtful manifesto. If all goes according to plan this will attract huge attention in the blogosphere (or sphèroblog as our French cousins would have it) and land me a massive publishing deal, perhaps with our friends at Hachette or similar, resulting in a book coming out early in the new year.
Such will be the success of this oeuvre that there will be a massive populist campaign to adjust the minor technicality of my nationality (see future posts explaining why I am almost French) in order that I may stand in the Presidential elections next summer.
That my friends is my goal -- from zero to President of France in just a few short months. I know I can count on your support.
In fact, I am dependent on your support, as although I have many ideas about France and how to fix it, a complete manifesto might be a little difficult to produce in such a short space of time. So any ideas would be more than welcome (particularly on some of the more recondite areas of government, such as the prison system, fish quotas, and VAT (TVA if you insist) rules on the treatment of herringbone worsteds traded with the Czech Republic). As President of France I would endeavour to represent all the people -- not only the French! -- and thus I will fish in the largest possible pond in my search for policies.

Coming next: my credentials

I thank you for your attention
LibEgFrat to you all