Last night Nicholas Sarkozy gave a speech in London. It follows the publication of his book TESTIMONY (buy HERE) in English this week. The language is very different from that which we are used to from domestic politicians. I'm not sure I am a huge fan of Sarkozy. There's something quite demagogic about him that makes me feel he's not the full shilling. Segolene Royal has had her fair share of gaffes over the last two or three weeks, but I wouldn't mind betting that Sarkozy will be making a fair few over the next few months. Here's an extract if his speech...
"I want to tell you first of all how happy I am to meet you here in London; in this town that seems more and more prosperous and dynamic every time I come here. I can't help thinking that this energy, this creative power, this life that bursts out everywhere - London, which has become one of the great French cities, owes quite a lot to you. You have brought with you so much intelligence, imagination, enthusiasm for work, and desire to succeed that you have helped give back to London the vitality that Paris needs so much.
I want to teach young French people to live with the world and not to reject it. I want to give every child the taste of adventure and the vast horizons, behind which hides unknown worlds. I want to give to everyone the desire to go and see how people study, how people think, how they work in other places. I want studies abroad, and professional experience abroad to be made easier, encouraged and appreciated. I know that we will not protect the "French exception" by staying apart from the changes in the world but rather we will maintain our identity by committing ourselves to the world. It is very rare that people choose to leave their country without reasons that are good enough to justify the wrench that they feel on leaving the land of their birth.
When Professor Montangier, who discovered the AIDS virus, leaves for America, it is not because he does not like France. It is because the rules of the civil service stopped him from continuing his research which is his whole life. When Debreu leaves for America to win a Nobel prize in economic, it is not because he does not like France. it is because in France there is no place for him in a university because he does not have a professorship. When Mandelbrot leaves for America to invent fractal geometry, it is not because he doesn't like France. It is because at present there is no place in this type of mathematics in universities that are locked into their limited way of thinking.
When a young researcher does not find work in a laboratory, he is forced to go to where they give him the means to carry on with his job and to fulfil his ambitions. When the young businessmen with his head full of ideas finds himself being refused everything he needs to realise them, of course he goes to find them elsewhere. When a youngster without qualifications gives up hope of finding work to earn his living, of course he goes to a country where young people without qualification find jobs and where it is possible to learn a job whilst working. When the retired person sees the savings of a life's work confiscated, of course he is tempted to go to a country where taxes are less swingeing.
To those who have left France because it has lost the taste for risk and success, I want to say that together we can bring them back. To those that have left because they think it is no longer possible to do anything in France, I want to say that nothing is lost if that's what we all want. To all those who have gone abroad and are unhappy about the situation in France and having left it, I want to say "Come back!". Come back and you will see that with a little energy, courage and will, our old country can again do great things.
The France that I want to build with you is open, and once more believes in the value of effort, success, work and merit. It is a France which has broken with the ideology of May 1968 - this ideology which established an inversion of values and political correctness in politics, education and society; political correctness from which young French people today are the principal victims. At the heart of this political correctness that I want to denounce here, there is "youthism" - an ideology which says to young people that they only have rights and everything is owed to them. It is false and it also contains the devaluing of work and contempt for workers. I dare to use the word "work", because it does not burn my mouth. I have always made work one of the principal values of my life.
Whilst the world is changing faster than ever before, whilst everywhere immense creative forces are at work and men are struggling to invent, to create, to raise themselves from poverty and to create themselves a new world, France cannot remain stationary - replying to the world that invites it to join in the hectic race for change, "what's the point?" She cannot tell humanity that invites her to join in building a better future together, that France wants to build her own future alone.
If work is once again to seem a means to freedom, it must allow a family to live decently and educate its children. We must encourage work, instead of discouraging it. We must stop downgrading work and overvaluing money. We must stop making the worker the only method of adjustment in the economy. I propose that an increase in purchasing power should become the priority of economic policy after 25 years of sacrifice, stagnation of the purchasing power of salaries, and lowering of living standards for the young generations - a situation that the 35 hour week has made worse. I propose suppressing deductions and taxes on overtime, so that those who want to work to earn more are encouraged to do it, but without them being obliged to do so.
I want to reform the system by lowering social security deductions and increasing the purchasing power of salaries. I want to have done with a confiscatory tax system that discourages success and causes capital and business people to leave and create employment elsewhere. I want all economic policy to have a single objective; restoring the work ethic. I propose a growth policy to achieve full employment. I want a salary protection scheme for the lowest wage earners when they are unemployed, because beneath a certain minimum, the means to live like a free man no longer exists.
If I want an end to income support without community work in exchange, it's because I want those that are helped to rediscover self esteem through the recognition of being socially useful. If I want all young people to do six months compulsory civic service, it is because they ought to learn to give and not just to receive. If I want the dishonest boss who robs his business to be punished like the corrupt politician, and the adolescent who extorts from his schoolfellows, it's because we cannot ask people to assume their responsibilities if criminals big or small and remain unpunished. If I want the President of the Republic to accept full responsibility for his actions in the conduct of public affairs, it is because I am convinced that the example must be set at the top!
How can we talk of the Republic, when where he is born or the colour of his skin so affects the prospects of a child? In life, there are spectators and there are those that do things. There are those who watch and those that act, those that want things and those that get them.
France needs the French to dream. She need your dreams, your courage, your imagination. France will be roused by those that get up early in the morning, by those that roll up their sleeves to achieve their dreams. Yes it is possible to build the France that you dream about, the France that will blend good living and efficiency, the France that will once again become an ideal for youth of the whole world, the France that will create wealth before distributing it rather than distributing before creating. I want to build this France with you. We will build it together. I have come to ask you to be at the heart of change. If we are together, united, determined - everything is possible."
If the book is anything like the speech then I have a door which needs wedging open.
As I read his speech I found myself skimming past bits whilst biting back a desire to shout abuse at the screen. Maybe it's a translation thing. Possibly. Or not.
He appears to be a good dancer though, judging from the Guido post.
He's the leading politician of his generation in France. Remember, he is standing to be President, he is not leading a political party for elections, hence the Presidential style.
That said, the speech is preaching to the converted and designed to make them feel good. Harold Wilson, who when visiting the Royal Navy base at Chatham, sung the praises of the navy in a speech and asked rhetorically, "and why am I saying all this?" "Because you're in Chatham," came a voice from a heckler at the back of the hall. The same could be said for Sarkozy, who set out to woo his audience.
On a much more important matter, His Grace, always reticent to change, has finally plucked up courage and switched to New Blogger. As a consequence, he has lost all the avatars off his comment threads, which caused endless visual edification.
Can anyone assist?
Sounds as if he knows what is wrong with France at the moment. Admitting the problem is surely halfway to solving it.
I like France and the French but its bureaucracy is stifling and the government is over-protective of its perceived national interest. Time for a change there!
Crikey, I hope that Segolene wins....
After years of working in France, I'm about to achieve the nirvana for the French managerial classes - economic redundancy. I have a chance to recoup the half of my pay that was deducted in social security payments, and what happens? Sarko's going to make me do community work or accept a MacJob! Merde alors!
Personal interest aside, he's not to bad. Sadly half the french electorate will vote first for one of the many weirdos and extremists who are standing, but if he eventually wins and if he is able to implement is ideas (and if he doesn't touch my much anticipated benefits!)Sarkozy could do a lot of good for France.
There is something about Sarkozy i don't like, he has this feel about him that is really off putting.
There's something quite demagogic about him that makes me feel he's not the full shilling.
It's the huge shiny forehead that does it for me.
He wrote a biography of Georges Mandel. Has it been translated into English ?
Well, I like him! He called the rioting car burning "youths" in Paris "scum of the earth". You don't often hear a politician being so direct. Can you image St Tony using this language?
Also, as someone else noted, he is a cool dancer and can moon walk, according to the video over on Guido's.
Not sure if I'd trust him, but he talks a lot more sense that Dave ever does.
Ed - agree. He doesn't fear having an opinion that has not been previously endorsed by his opponents. So way ahead of Dave.
France has a long history of being let down by its politicians - they've had 12 years of Liar Chirac as President and before that 14 years of Liar Mitterrand. Chirac's 86-88 government knew what needed to be done, and made some welcome changes, but missed plenty of opportunities, and his 12 year Presidency has been disastrous. Sarko talks a good game, but, if France's record is anything to go by, is likely to be a disappointment in office, and anyway is much more circumscribed than The Lady in 1979 by the Euro, etc. Having said that, hearing of someone of whom Verity has a positive opinion is so unusual that maybe he is an exceptional individual after all ...
I hope is goes without saying that you would prefer centre-right Sarkozy to win over the socialist Royal..
Well said Chad - I'd vote for him, I wish he was a British politician. I'm rather confused by the majority of comments here - what sort of politician or leader to you actually want?
I've a feeling he knows what's right for his country, without pandering to the liberal elite (well he has to a tad for the votes). I'm no expert on french politics, but after the car burning excesses by the youth, I can't see a 'Scarman'/Macpherson' enquiry on the cards - nor a massive change of policing or the introduction of hundreds of pointless and unenforceable laws etc. It was treated as what it was - yobbery.
The socialist Royale seems quite vapid and Cameron-like, no real substance and no will to really change direction.
I like his style. He enjoys slaying sacred cows, which makes him one of the good in my eyes.
As a former Director of a French company I wish him well France is a great country to live, but paralysed by time servers in the Unions and Government at all levels
Anyone interested in a review of the book should take a look at my review of it at Blogcritics. Its quite a good book slightly tarnished by the translators asides.
As I am now French-resident, I'm certainly supporting the solid centre-right Sarkozy who has deliberately likened himself to Thatcher (with one paper superimposing his face on Thatcher's body).
Royal in contrast, is fragrant, media-friendly, cuddly-looking but dangerous for France. So yes, very much like Cameron.
It's tough policies, and political backbone to win people around to your argument that gets a country back on its feet not seeking to float on the wind of popular opinion.
I'd bloody vote for him too. Guys got some guts and gumption *and* talks a good game. Best of luck, Sarko.
Well I could have guessed verity was going to like this guy! A marriage made in heaven, methinks. A more serious point is whether the future of Britain lies in learning lessons from France or from the Yanks. Despite Mr Sarkozy's eulogy to America, I for one don't want to live in a country where there are only 2 weeks holiday a year.
And a quarter of the population are mentally ill. Because they've made work the new religion and they're all suffering from stress & anxiety.
France may have swung the pendulum slightly too much the other way. A 35 hour max work week may not be sustainable in the global economy, but there needs to be some sort of limit - Britain has it about right.
The French have the longest life expectancy, fantastic food [who wants to live on burgers and 'fries'] great wine, which helps the heart and fantastic films. I saw a vacuous American complaining about French films that young people were preferring their 'more commercial' US rivals ! So what ? He wouldn't know good quality artistic cinema if it came up and bit him on the arse!
Come on folks, we know where our bread is buttered, do we want to end up with the homogenised culture the yanks are throwing at us, or be able to experience the different culture and values of the loverly French ?
After all if Dubya calls them Cheese-eating Surrender Monkeys, they have to be doing something right. Vive la difference !!!
Sarkozy or Royal?
Who do you want to win?
I think it symptomatic just how radical Sarkozy is that his translator into English is at times rather sneering in his comments. To we, as the French call us Anglo-Saxons, what he is saying is not that radical but to the French it is almost revolutionary.
I'd vote for him.
Maybe (probably?) he won't live up to the rhetoric but most of what he said I firmly agree with Any politician who is willing to say that his country has a lot to learn from foreigners (for French mentioning the USA must be particularly difficult) deserves respect. Our politicians seem to at least talk as if abroad was just full of slightly retarded & untrustworthy foreigners. A country that isn't prepared to learn from others won't.
Chad, as I would expect from you, a pathetic question. I suppose you'll now go off in one of your ridiculous rages and say I want Royal to win. Just form the avoidance of doubt, if I had a vote, I'd cast ot for Sarkozy. I may have my reservations about him but he is a man of the Right so he gets my support. No doubt you'll be supporting Le Pen (joke).
One word: Wasted.
No, it was a simple, straight question Iain, as the tone of your thread was anti-Sarkozy.
With the new Cameroons, it's hard to tell, so I thought it worth asking.
Re your Le Pen joke,
As you know I am against prejudiced immigration policies, which is why I cannot support the policies of the BNP/Tories as I don't want to ofference preference or prejudice based on colour (BNP policy) or country of birth(Tory policy).
anonymous 8:35 - D'accord! What kind of polician do the commenters here want? Here is a man of the right who wants to do something about the atmosphere where 50,000 car burnings in one year in France isn't really noteworthy. He wants to impose law and order. He doesn't like socialism. He's very plain spoken. He is aware of the world outside France.
Anonymous 11:27 says: "Despite Mr Sarkozy's eulogy to America, I for one don't want to live in a country where there are only 2 weeks holiday a year." Don't worry; you'd never be granted a green card so the question doesn't arise.
President Bush never called the French cheese-eating surrender monkeys. That was a TV journalist and it caught on. You don't seem to know what you're talking about.
It's clear that you've never lived in the United States or France. Ever been out of Britain?
Agree with the people commenting on the Sego/Cameron analogy. Vapid and vacuous.
Ah, the cosiness of the Comintern of the present age, the only real Global Terror Network, neoconservatism.
Among the vanguard elites owing allegiance, like the Communist Parties of old, to the superstate in which the dictatorship of the victorious class is being established (and from which it is being exported, including by force of arms, throughout the world) are the New Labour Project (to be continued in full by Gordon Brown) and the court of Nicolas Sarkozy.
So it is only fitting, and indeed it was inevitable, that Blair should has endorsed Sarkozy for President of the French Republic. In like manner did he endorse the old neocon Prime Ministers of Spain and Italy, in like manner did he secure the Presidency of the European Commission for the old neocon Prime Minister of Portugal, in like manner has he endorsed the neocon German Chancellor, and in like manner will he endorse the neocons' grande dame for President of the United States.
Meanwhile, can the French have a proper Gaullist Presidential candidate, please?
He's sound on law and order, he's for free enterprise, and he's pro-science too. He's got his faults, what politician hasn't, and he mightn't be very tall but better him than Segolene, surely. Vote for the Dwarf, not Snow White!!
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