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What's what in the French press

Showing its usual disregared for the maxim that 'information wants to be free', a French court has carpeted Google for its ad words programme - this time for linking to sites hawking knock off Louis Vuitton bags and so forth. Details at Le Figaro. LVMH are quite litigious, and a French court ruled a while back - insanely in my opinion - that a Morgan Stanley research note defamed it . Sigh.

Elsewhere, Lionel Jospin is interested in one more grab at the brass ring of the presidency. Liberation notes: ""the question is open." But the answer is increasingly obvious. For the first time, Lionel Jospin... indicated that the prospect of being a presidential candidate in 2007 appealed. "If it appears that I am the best placed rally the country, to assume the burden [of the role], to propose policies to the French, then I would ask myself the question, obviously".

It has often intrigued me that careers in French politics just go and on, whereas our politicians seem to give it up rather more quickly. Maybe it is something to do with immunity laws. Meanwhile, this used to be chanted at Jospin by malcontents: "Jospin - salaud, la peuple aura ta peau". That is, 'Jospin - 'blighter', the people will have your hide".


A couple of footnotes on Jospin - he was born a Protestant, making him another non-Catholic French PM, of whom there have been quite a few, considering how few non-Catholic Christians there are in France. I've got a remote Huguenot connection, which is exciting.... Also, he was a Trotskyite in the 60s and 70s, despite having risen up in the Parti Socialiste. There was talk of him actually being a sleeper when he reached the top, but I can't find the reference.

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Anonymous rigger mortice said... 10:55 am

it is the immunity laws!  



Blogger Croydonian said... 11:00 am

Reminds me of the story about a French leftie arguing with an American, and suggesting that GWB would be too stupid to be a French president, and the American replying that if Chirac was American he'd be in jail....  



Anonymous rigger mortice said... 12:11 pm

the whole thing with Chirac does beggar belief.Even if you believe in innocent till proven guilty,there comes a point when the scale of the claims/allegations has to be tested.

But it is their way of life.I remeber being in Rio airport and it was all non smoking,who were the only people who ignored the law,---a group of Frenchies.couldn't give a shit.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 12:34 pm

I am enormously fond of France and the French, and have been for a very long time, but in the best 'Pale Blue Eyes' fashion, mostly they just make me mad.

I know that one shouldn't elevate a series of anecdotes into a theory, but for what it is worth, here are a few:

My parents retired to SW France some years ago, and when a compulsory no-smoking area in cafes and bars was introduced, my father (a smoker) asked his local patron what he was planning to do. His reply "we have a non-smoking area - it is called 'outside'". As this is a very small village, he knew full well he could scoff at the law as it would never be enforced.

More recently, I was in a bar with a French friend watching a game last week, and he was being a bit free with his profanity. I asked him, very gently, if he would tone it down as there were small children around and he went berserk, ranting that I couldn't tell him what to do, and he could do whatever he wanted etc etc. Oh yes, and he smokes in non-smoking places too.

To drag out an old cliche, I do wonder whether there is collective cloudiness over the difference between liberty and licence.  



Blogger barbara worth said... 4:38 pm

"Le Monde" had a practically full page article by Lionel Jospin yesterday. Certainly looked like a pitch for the Elysee palace gig to me.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 5:57 pm

The other curious thing with the top bods in French politicas is that no matter what terrible crimes, abuses of power, acts of incompetence they are responsible for while in office, the manage to stay in the game.

Exhibit A - Fabius and the AIDS scandal

B - Giscard and the Bokassa link

C - Mitterand. Where to start?  



Blogger barbara worth said... 9:59 pm

Hmmmm. It's interesting. I don't think it's just down to immunity laws though clearly those are important.

I wonder if the French allow their politicians so much licence because there is a general sense that everyone (except the under- class) is benefitting from state subsidies and back scratching, while in the UK there is more of an "Animal Farm" sense of the workers looking on as a minority (politicos and mandarins) benefit. So perhaps the middle classes feel that they are inside a cosy circle of state funded pocket lining along with their leaders rather than feeling exploited by them.

Hope that makes sense.

The middle class French lifestyle looks enviable from the outside- it just doesn't feel sustainable to anglo saxon sensibilities.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 10:15 pm

Good point Barbara.

I think that the media barons and the governing classes are very much hand in glove too, and have a rather patrician view of 'the grubby masses'.

I am yet to meet anyone French, right or left, who does not have immense faith in technocrats/enarques etc to solve everything, and there just isn't the cynicism (realism?) about the role of the state that we have here. While jokes about civil servants are ten a centime, everyone - it seems - wants to be one.  



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