Day 54 – Which side is Sir hanging today (or tomorrow)

The Dilemma of the Ever-Elegant Politico

Yes. It’s That Man Again.

He was revealed by Sunday’s JDD to have had a generous friend who bought him 2 suits for €13k last month at swish Parisian tailors Arnys (the same establishment where nearly €50k has been spent Dressing Mr Fillon in suits, pullovers and blazers since 2012 … of which a bit north of €35k was claimed to have been paid in cash, though that Cash for Clothes allegation is seriously questioned). None of these ‘gifts’ has figured in those pesky declarations required to be submitted to Parliamentary Authorities for any gift of €150+ if related to one’s Parliamentary activities. Maybe he needs more Parliamentary Assistance? Hamon’s comment: ‘I buy my own suits. Preferably in the sales.’

While tomorrow he’s off for his much-anticipated meeting with The Magistrature.

Hamon

He went on a 15,000km return trip to Guadeloupe. The island voted 72% Hollande in 2012 so there’s votes to be had there. Unfortunately they then voted 75% Valls in the Socialist Primary. The latter may explain Hamon’s discovery of his support for Hollande’s 5 year term. Leftie Researchers have analysed Hamon’s campaign saying that the strategic choice to address Green/Melenchon voters, rather than the centre-left, has been a double whammy … adding nothing to his own support but rather benefiting Macron.

Fillon’s programme

Interviewed in business paper Les Echos, Fillon described himself as the sole candidate who will bring hope to France. This is done thus: abolish the 35 hour week; progressively push retirement age to 65; cut public expenditure; increase VAT by 2%; lower employer’s charges; increase purchasing power by €10bn; abolish wealth tax; bring unemployment below 7%; push growth above 2%; cut 500,000 public employees.

He said ‘In a dangerous world, with an American President who produces surprises, with Brexit, the risk of European dislocation, Russia turning in a bad direction, and Islamic totalitarianism, France needs a President who has experience rather someone who demonstrates his immaturity, like Macron … Leaving the Euro [commenting on Le Pen] would mean inflation of at least 10% with immediate consequences on the economy, savings and purchasing power of the French … If elected I will have a Parliamentary majority [unlike Macron and Le Pen]. I am the only one who represents a real break with the past to allow the economy to be sorted out … Macron is the hologram of Hollande, but younger.’

Out on the streets (and inside the house too)

Countless militants were drawn into the place du Marché by Sunday’s warm sunshine. Heavy Filloniste artillery, replete with mini-billboard [the same poster praising Fillon’s courage in truth-telling (Day 70) is on the other side], tricolore atop, the Mayor himself out there too.

They were distributing 4-sided A4 full-colour leaflets on healthcare. Fillon wants ‘to save our our health system from collapse’, his project being ‘Better healthcare at less cost for the user’ [his version’s snappier than mine]. He totally rejects any idea of ‘privatisation’, though that is still in people’s minds from his original programme.
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The Rarely-Spotted Hamon supporters had come blinking into the light. Since they were stood next to several folk petitioning against a locally controversial tram-train scheme (actively opposed by the Greens) it’s possible they were all erstwhile Greens who’ve nothing to do following the withdrawal of their former Presidential candidate.

Lots of Macronista were there – one, when I baulked at being offered the same leaflet for the 3rd week, kindly gave me a copy of Macron’s 30 page programme … free in your own home here.

The Le Pen people have perhaps disappeared to more fertile territory.

These last days, though, have been a bit special. Our very first Election leaflets were actually delivered through our front door … first Hamon’s, then Fillon’s (on behalf of small businesses: ‘Artisans and shopkeepers create France’s wealth and must be supported’).

Initially I had thought the Socialist militants may have wisely decided to avoid further street litter by delivering reading matter direct to the punter’s home. The leaflet’s unexcitingly presented.

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A modest exegesis. Two sided A4, it’s:

  • got red and green print – evidently the product of the Socialist-Green rassemblement
  • you’re looking at the only pic: white shirt, jacket, tie. Really?
  • an intelligent – and in France still evocative – plea on behalf of ‘Strong, modern, caring public services’, described as ‘the patrimoine of those who don’t have any’ [personal patrimoine is your total wealth (necessarily inviting thoughts of Fillon’s chateau), while nationally it’s the country’s heritage]
  • But Hamon’s identified a very real problem for which he produces a strong pledge. He talks of a ‘Universal Public Service Guarantee’ to fight against France’s ‘desertification’ (disappearance/closure of all public services) by ensuring each population centre is max. 30 minutes from basic public services (eg post office/health care). And that norm can be used to oppose any closure. It’s far too late for Hamon to escape his fate. But still they’ve produced a rather good read, with intelligent condemnations of other candidates’ policies. Although some bewildering language doesn’t work so well for me (too Brit probably?) such as the République being ‘humanist’.

Regarding Hamon’s Green-ness, I should remind you that erstwhile EELV Presidential Candidate, Jadot, withdrew from the race following interminable discussions (and a smart deal) with Hamon. Odd that a fortnight post-withdrawal Jadot still maintains

  • his Presidential campaign website in all its pristine glory, and
  • his Euro-Deputy website which refers to the 1st stage of the Hamon rapprochement. The EELV have probably been partying so hard post-deal, there’s been insufficient time to address boring website issues. Maybe he needs more Euro-Parliamentary-Assistants?

[I must also admit, Dear Reader, that today’s been special for me too. At last – even without my trusty WebMeister who has gone awl (absent with leave) – I realised I could myself reduce the size of photos when I posted (hence 2 mini-pix above)].

‘The Le Pen Menace’

That was the Journal de Dimanche‘s (JDD) dramatic headline, followed by ‘… her high level in the opinion polls worries her opponents’.Their p. 2 lead was ‘Can she win?’

Sananes (boss of pollsters Elabe) describes her victory as ‘sociologically possible, but politically improbable’. To win (he said) she must avoid the run-off being a Referendum on her (as when Chirac beat Le Pen in 2002) but one ‘for or against the system, élites, Europe, globalisation’.

There has been much commentary about the end of the old left-right divide in rich countries and its replacement by an open/closed divide. As The Economist wrote last July ‘Debates between tax-cutting conservatives and free-spending social democrats have not gone away. But issues that cross traditional party lines have grown more potent. Welcome immigrants or keep them out? Open up to foreign trade or protect domestic industries? Embrace cultural change, or resist it?’

They also quoted Stephan Shakespeare (boss of pollster YouGov) who wrote, presciently (and only semi-ironically), as long ago as 2005: ‘We are either ‘drawbridge up’ or ‘drawbridge down’. Are you someone who feels your life is being encroached upon by criminals, gypsies, spongers, asylum-seekers, Brussels bureaucrats? Do you think all the bad things will go away if we lock the doors? Or do you think it’s a big beautiful world out there, full of good people, if only we could all open our arms and embrace each other?’

A perfect example of different views on drawbridges is personified by the (probably) coming Le Pen v Macron clash. JDD claims Le Pen sees Macron as her ideal opponent: he Is an ideal characterisation of ‘globalisation’ against her incarnation of ‘patriot’. A Le Pen close adviser is quoted: ‘Macron is our very antithesis: globalist, European, ultra-liberal, he represents the post-national political offering. We [the FN] are for the protection of identity, and social protection. The Presidential Election summarises the issue thus: either you want the nation or the disintegration of the nation.’

JDD had altogether 5 pages on Le Pen/FN, including 4 half page articles:

  • by centre-right  commentator, Baverez, on the consequences of Le Pen’s proposals to leave the Euro (‘the quickest way to ruin France and the French’) and Frexit (‘a tragedy for France and the French’),
  • by a Paris University law professor ‘The 144 Le Pen propositions are not compatible with the Rule of Law’
  • on attempts to get Hard Right ‘personalities’ to join Le Pen after the 1st round
  • on fellow ultra-right European Party leaders.

Yet more ‘experts’ to be ignored.

And as a continuing contribution to her detoxification campaign – when introduced on  C8 TV as the FN candidate for the Presidency – Le Pen utterly rejected that definition. ‘No. No. No.’ she said ‘I am supported by the FN … but I am not their candidate.’

 

 

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