old salut!

Colin Randall wrote here on France, things Anglo-French and more......but has moved

November 09, 2006

Royal: a busted flush?

This site has now moved to Salut!

Ségolène Royal, according to one French view of the early presidential skirmishing, was streets ahead until she started appearing too much in public and, especially, too much on the box.

She still looks somewhat more electable than Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Laurent Fabius*. But the three televised debates with them have seen public support for Ségolène, if not quite drifting away, faltering.

We can probably assume that she will still pick up the socialist party nomination later this month, at worst after being forced into a deciding second round.

But each blip in the opinion polls, which are concerned mostly with how she is doing in the internal race, adds to doubts about her ability to defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in the real presidency poll next spring.

Did she peak far too soon? Is there really nothing more to her than that she is female, fresh and - despite that ministerial role under Mitterrand - semi-detached from the dismal record of the tired old socialist bigwigs - the so-called party elephants?

In truth, it has become increasingly difficult to raise huge enthusiasm for either of the Elysée frontrunners. The best thing going for both of them, it often seems, is that they are not the far Right menace Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Sarko sometimes only appears to be serious when he promises the change France self-evidently needs. There is, after all, little sign that up with such change the French will wish to put.

Yet the more in depth the profile of Mme Royal in one of the heavyweight French political weeklies, the less appealing are some of her characteristics.

As I have noted elsewhere, not everyone who has had close dealings with her is left feeling happier as a result.

Some of her critics in the Parti Socialiste have shown themselves to be absurd, malicious or sexist. Hands up the mean-minded rival who nicknamed her chikungunya after the vicious mosquito-borne illness that affected 250,000 people, killing 250 of them, on the French island of La Réunion.

But too many stories of her single-minded pursuit of power are in circulation for all to be untrue. And she did herself no favours with her tetchy put-down of that girl who asked a tough question at an August party gathering in Brittany.

Ségolène impressed me on the one occasion we met, and I like to think I was a little ahead of the game in spotting her electoral potential. I'd enjoy meeting her again. But even when I was employed, the response from her people was much as it usually is from Sarko's: you've got no votes, why should s/he give you any time?

It does not seem right for France's election campaign to have started so early, and I am not convinced that the French public have much of an appetite for six more months of the same. Most can take only so much of Sarko; the socialist alternatives to Ségolène are scarcely calculated to inspire.

A few more days remain for Ségolène to stamp her authority on the race for the socialist ticket. If she somehow manages to grasp defeat from victory's jaws, we face being bored to death - or reduced to holding our noses and praying for Le Pen to make it to the second round again and at least make the elections worth talking about.

* Simply cannot get this to link to either of my Beauty vs the Elephants blog postings at the Telegraph site in August. Go to the Telegraph blogs home page, click on foreign and then you find me as "archived" at the bottom of the list of foreign correspondents. Use the search facility - Segolene is all you type in - from there.

This site has now moved to Salut!


At November 09, 2006 5:11 PM, Blogger Louise said...

The French elections will probably follow the usual road - no-one votes FOR the candidate but AGAINST le Pen. I suppose Royal has a chance of being voted as the socialist candidate on the grounds that she makes an attractive change from the usual old gang of dinosaurs, but out of the three running I think I would vote for Fabius if I had to choose - of the three he is the most experienced.

Goodness knows who will stand up to Sarko - I saw the other day that Chevenment is running - no fool like an old fool, eh? There are a couple of people in the actual goverment who would make a far better go of things than Sarko and his eternel banging on about 'les banlieues' but they probably have more intelligence than to set themselves up in front of the firing squad.

At November 09, 2006 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing is more guaranteed to shut me up than the subject of French politics.
How did you know that, Colin R?

At November 09, 2006 8:14 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Hard pushed to write your 250 words today, Colin! Agree that French and/or English politics are incredibly and terribly boring...what shall we talk about instead?

At November 09, 2006 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction, Louise. One post, max 250 words. See what you've made me do - use up tomorrow's ration !

At November 09, 2006 8:27 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Colin Randall (if he hasn't posted this and then taken off again to parts unknown) could always tie up some of the loose strings from his previous posting. It's a shame to leave them dangling, though that seems somewhat endemic to blogs.

At November 09, 2006 9:42 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Latest Nathalie Gettliffe story from Canadian Press:

VANCOUVER (CP) — Prosecutors are seeking a two-year jail term for a French woman who pleaded guilty to abducting her children, a child custody hearing heard Wednesday.
The Crown has not yet announced its intentions regarding the sentencing of Nathalie Gettliffe but her lawyer in the civil matter told a judge that jail time is being sought.
Vincent Pigeon told B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Nicole Garson that there is no reason why his client should not at least get joint guardianship of the children, aged 12 and 11.
“I think we can all agree that she’s not going to remain behind bars forever,” Pigeon said. “I’m told the Crown is seeking two years. She’s already served seven months.”
Gettliffe took the children away to France in 2001. She was arrested in April after returning to Canada to defender her PhD thesis at the University of British Columbia.
The kids were returned to their father, Scott Grant, in July and he has interim custody and guardianship.
Grant’s lawyer, Theresa Stowe, applied for an adjournment on the child custody matter pending the outcome of a Crown application for Gettliffe to undergo a psychiatric assessment.
She said the facts of the case go beyond the usual and are in some respects “most alarming” for the mother, who remains in custody.
“She may be suffering from some degree of mental impairment.” said Stowe. “There’s certainly some evidence that something might be wrong. A psychiatric evaluation is highly relevant.”
Stowe said it was not clear that the children, who have visited their mom in custody a number of times since her arrest in April, are in a particularly good state of mind.
“It’s been a very difficult time for the children,” she said. ``There are indications that the access visits in are not in their best interests.”
She cited one incident in October in which the couple’s 11-year-old daughter asked her mom why she looked so tired.
“The mother replied, `Because the guards come by with their flashlights at night, and flash it on us to make sure we’re not dead.’ ” said Stowe. “This is a little girl visiting her mother in jail.”
The judge rejected the adjournment application, saying she wanted to get the proceedings under way.
Pigeon, who told the judge that while his client knows she did wrong in abducting the kids, they were well cared for during their five-year stay in France.
Stowe said the abduction “seriously undermined’ the well-being of the children.

At November 09, 2006 9:56 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

And a late-breaking little bit more:

VANCOUVER (CP) — A prosecutor says a psychiatric assessment of a French woman who abducted her children in B.C. is the only way to determine if she will take her kids again.
Crown lawyer Gail Dickson told B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver that the actions of Nathalie Gettliffe raise serious questions that can only be answered if she’s examined for mental illness.
She says those actions include defying court orders, claiming the children’s father, Scott Grant, was in a cult and suggesting the people of her French village might lynch him.

At November 09, 2006 10:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder what Segolène makes of Philippe Jaffré's latest book "The Day that France went bankrupt". Not exactly guaranteed to inspire confidence in voters' minds! Of course we do not know definitely that Chirac will not run again, if only to avoid prosecution. That might gift victory to a socialist candidate. I do disagree with Louise's idea that no one votes for Le Pen. A heck of a lot of people did last time, for whatever reasons. I suspect that every burning vehicle in the "banlieues" adds a few more votes to the FN's tally. Sarkozy has at least done something on the law and order front and France seems much quicker to deport undesirables than Britain.


At November 09, 2006 11:15 PM, Blogger Louise said...

They say the French vote with their hearts in the first round of the elections and with their heads in the second round - they got one hell of a fright in the first round of the last elections!

At November 09, 2006 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone heard about the 30MFF that Chirac has stashed away in a bank account in Japan?
The man's a crook. Mind you, they all are, except perhaps for Sego and she's a micro-managing control freak.
Coo, some choice.
Well, I can't vote so my attention span is decidedly limited regarding French politics.
I think Gettliffffe's ex-h should have a psychiatric test too. They're a right pair. One's a loony and the other's a loony religious nut. Those poor kids!!!

At November 09, 2006 11:47 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

The Gettliffe family (not the children,please) are essentially mattoids and everything in between.Taking the freedom of life's choices without taking the responsibilities.
And now users of the social services.Life 10 years from now can only survive with good friends and a caring family to keep their humanity.

At November 10, 2006 12:19 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Sarah.If you don't mind may I ask how it is that you know who "Ace" is over on your blog God Bless.
I read your blog and greatly enjoy it,by the way.

At November 10, 2006 8:28 AM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Yes, Bill, Gettliffe will get more attention here. First thoughts on the latest reports: if she is sick, it has taken Canada an awful long time to find out or even suspect, and isn't this yet another reason why jail is the wrong place for her?
Different subject. French politics do leave a lot of people cold, but can hardly be avoided in the approach to presidential elections.
On Chirac, it is true that investigating magistrates may have a lot of questions to put to him once he loses the immunity of office. But in fairness, I should record that he took the exceptional step of formally denying the existence of a Japanese stash when the allegation re-surfaced a few months ago.

At November 10, 2006 9:03 AM, Anonymous Smiley said...

There was a young lady called Nathalie
Who ran, with her kids quite rashly
The Canadadians said No!
To Jail you must go
Now Colin's complaining quite madly

At November 10, 2006 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anne: click on his name and it'll take you to his blog, Treespotter. Thank you for your kind comments!

Colin R: when did formerly denying anything mean anything? It just means you're hoping nothing can be proved. Clinton did a whole load of denying too. Didn't mean he was telling the truth though.
I can't wait until Chirac loses immunity. I really hope he gets what he deserves. Now, that would make great television!

At November 10, 2006 11:42 AM, Blogger Louise said...

Now Colin R, we all know that to be a politicien you have to be able to lie beautifully - as Sarah said, Clinton did one whole lot of lying, Bush and Blair too (remember those weapons of mass destruction?) but it's nice to know that you see the good in everyone, not like us cynical lot!

At November 10, 2006 12:28 PM, Blogger Louise said...

Ummm...now don't get in a huff, Colin! It's only idle chatter here and we know that as a reporter, you report wot the man said, and unless you have very solid inside information you can do no more unless you want to get done for slander.

So don't worry, no-one is going to steal your baby from you - we have the advantage of being able to say things on your blog that perhaps you cannot and if you wish to make a stand on a certain subject, I don't think anyone here will be astounded...however isn't that what blogging is all about? Everyone can give their opinion?

At November 10, 2006 12:41 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

People, even the discerning and respectable people who frequent these parts, do seem to struggle with concepts of message and messenger (even when not doing so for mischievous purposes).
If I counter a serious allegation about a named public figure, Chirac in this case, with a denial, it is not because I necessarily believe that person. It has much more to do with a reporter's training - if a charge is not only made but denied, the reader should be aware. This is my blog and it should surprise no one that I occasionally express a strong opinion. But when I do take sides on something, it shouldn't take long to work that out.

ps this now appears out of sequence (with Louise's reply) as I have corrected typos.

At November 10, 2006 2:46 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Briefly, Colin, having regard to Nathalie Gettliffe's mental state and the examination thereof -- I believe her lawyers have fought and still are fighting against a psychiatric evaluation. It's only now that the case is before a judge that a ruling can be made.

At November 10, 2006 3:20 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Guten morgen SH.

And what have we here?
A voice in verse has deftly appeared.
Tickling it tumbles the prevailing style.
Of report from the residents,who can't walk a mile.
Now of course you have said.
Verse is on the way out.
With Smiley here you can no longer pout.
Verse is in style,even you could write.
And may we have your poem?
Maybe? Might?

At November 10, 2006 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Treat me nice
Treat me good
Treat me like you really should
'cause I'm not made of wood
And I don't have a wooden heart

Sei mir gut
Sei mir gut
Sei mir wie du wirklich sollst
Wie du wirklich sollst
'cause I don't have a wooden heart

Which language do you prefer ?


At November 10, 2006 5:15 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

A fine writing pen put it's purpose to verse.
That we may enjoy for better or worse.
Those who can read and those who can write.
Will see by here.
Ink of gold in a celestial light.


At November 10, 2006 5:51 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Wiederholung? You can say that again.

At November 10, 2006 6:03 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Wiederholung !

At November 10, 2006 6:26 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

There seems to have been a lot of talk about French politics by anglosaxons. The best proof that Chirac has been an excellent minister, prime minister, president for France is that he is roundly disliked by the English. Of course there are a few financial irregularities, but most of that is linked to the financing of political parties not personal gain. If you compare the financial scandals in France with the days of Mitterand things have really been cleaned up. A strange thing about Anglo saxon criticism of French politics is the endless refrain to modernise. But of course France has gone and is going through massive change and Chirac has handled this well. France is now a much more modern country than England. Higher productivity, decentralised, ahead on pollution, egalitarian, increased leasure,good public services, great technology, high percentage of services in the economy etc. etc. Strange the Brits can't see it. Or maybe they can and don't like it?

At November 10, 2006 7:44 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Well here you have somebody who is happy with the two excellent front runners in the French election. Colin R you gave too much importance to the early polls on Ségo. People didn't really know who they wanted at that point, because they hadn't thought about it. The debates have been good and Ségo has generally come through well for a relative neophyte. But of course when you actually see the person debating, rather than some idealised image, opinions shift. No opinion poll tells us what the people who will actually vote, socialist party members,think. So to suggest that Ségo had/has it wrapped up is misleading.

The problem for the British when they observe French politics is that they are looking for somebody they would vote for. Of course that they will not find. Also their refernce system is looking for a stable two party system, which has never existed in France. Hence all the comments that it is boring etc. But pay a little more attention, challenge your fundamental beliefs,interprete the coded language, understand the history of the country and political parties. There is a wealth of detail to fascinate you everyday through to May next year.

At November 10, 2006 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like there's a wealth of detail in drying paint.

(And that's tomorrow's ration used up as well)

At November 10, 2006 8:00 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

OK Colin be cynical. But if you look in today's Lemonde you will find that UMP are preparing a list of 30 initiatives for the new presidency. Beyond the proposals themselves, which are not just glib marketing jobs, there is a whole discussion going on between the different strands of opinion in the party which gives an insight into how different sectors of the community are facing up to change. If you had any commitment to the country you might find that interesting, especially since I am sure it will pan out into much more discussion over the coming days.

At November 10, 2006 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why be committed to something you have no say in because they don't want you to vote?

You can't be committed because you can't vote.

At November 10, 2006 10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get real, Roo! "Tout n'est pas pour le mieux" and France is not "le meilleur des mondes possibles". The French are fed-up with repeated strikes - like the SNCF one on Wednesday which started before the time the "préavis" had set. They are fed up with the great divide between the "énarques" who run things and the rest of the country and the ensuing corruption. (OK, Chirac is marginally less corrupt than Mitterand was.) They are fed-up with the lack of job opportunities especially for young people. They are fed-up with governments who roll over on their backs with their paws in the air at the first sign of a "manifestation". Unfortunately at the same time as they complain, they don't do anything about it - very French! So the UMP needs not only policies but the guts to see them through.


At November 10, 2006 11:17 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Sarah I don't know who the 'you' is. Of course they want you to vote. I personally can't vote because I have chosen not to take French nationality, but that is my choice, laziness. I am fully committed to the country in which I have chosen to live, work and pay taxes; where my wife and sons fully use their voting rights.

SH your France is the Telegraph reporters' France or maybe Parisian bankers' France. That's about 2% of the population and I am being generous.It's not the France of the factory floor, the checkout counter nor the farmgate. They just don't complain about these alleged issues which I read of every week in the Economist.Besides it being a French habit to complain because they are perfectionists, what does upset them is all the restructuring and uncertainty brought about by globalisation; violence and immigration. Certainly the entrepreneur class complains about taxation and excessive benefits. The agriculture sector is having a rough time because despite the 'waste of the common agricultural system' their revenues are declining. The doctors and nurses are feeling some pressue because their number is being reduced while their workload is increasing.
What they are extremely attached to are: their excellent public services, a strong central government, an absence of anglo saxon economics, protective labour law,healthy food, long holidays, a short working week, early retirement and their local community represented by the mayor.

You get real, go see some actual French people, take your snout out of those drab UK newspapers.

At November 11, 2006 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I shall certainly speak sharply to my French friends for failing to be representative of that France Roo seems to inhabit - perhaps it's their fault for living in Paris, though I'm not sure why one's place of residence should invalidate one's opinion. For your part perhaps you could sort out Le Figaro for today's headline which suggests that all is not well in Paradise - 0% growth rate in the French economy in the third quarter.

Oh dear, they're a' oot o' step but oor Roo!

SH, a Times reader.

At November 11, 2006 5:57 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

A Scot in Paris? Ring Ring a bean counter. Your contacts are not my contacts.
1) Trains serve Parisiens. Nobody else cares much. Only Parisien bosses really care if 3 days a year they have problems with trains.That's 362 days in the year that they are better than the UK.
2) One quarter unusually high growth, another quarter unusually low growth. Seen that before, it was the bean counters. Besides the French have come to the conclusion that one day more on the beach at Saint Tropez has value (the bean counters say it hasn't) and one night on death row has no value (the bean counters say it has).You won't find, outside your small group of friends, GNP junckies.
3) You may have observed a large advertising campaign by the building industry to convince young women to be brick layers. Now why would they do that if there was a long line of qualified disciplined guys from the banlieues looking for a job?

You may need to supplement the fiction of the Times with something that gives you some information. Try Lemonde, or Lefigaro or Lepoint. But don't believe all the French disaster books, its just a way of making money by appealing to French insecurity.

At November 12, 2006 3:30 AM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Among the anagrams for A Scot in Paris are parasitic son and prosaic stain. Hmm

At November 12, 2006 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I point out that I have never claimed to be in Paris. That is Roo's idea, but then he had me based in Germany a short time ago too. Where should any good Scot be but in God's Own Country? I do have friends in France, I have friends in Germany, I have friends in Canada, I even (whisper it!) have friends in England and thanks to modern technology we can keep in touch regularly. I can even read all sorts of newspapers, etc on-line.

And please don't play with your anagrams in public again, Bill Taylor.


At November 12, 2006 10:57 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Good morning SH.

The modern technology you speak of can be a nuisance;especially when one uses anagrams to make a point.
Bill's use of a bingo basket that jumbles the numbers,then gives out words that he has not thought out himself is the issue here.
You would not have received his attention save for his playing bingo.
He needs a prod in the direction of creating the 250 word apology to Antibes PhD.
Do you feel capable of curing his allopathy?

At November 12, 2006 4:31 PM, Anonymous Dr. Samuel Johnson said...

Much may be made of a Scotsman if he's caught young.

At November 12, 2006 5:07 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Dr. Johnson is also said to have said: ""The noblest prospect which a Scotsman ever sees is the high road that leads him to England." To which one can only shake one's head and add: "And thence to the ferry to France."
It's likely, too, that Johnson used "Scotchman" in both quotations rather than "Scotsman." Which is regarded now as perjorative, isn't it, SH?

At November 16, 2006 5:28 PM, Blogger jimoer i ke said...

Ironicly my license plate reads 054-ROO

I`m for Royal be she Royal Blue or Pinky 2 you can count she be a Royal Queen of Scots a French President wit a gift for gab a welsh gift to talk down the Iranian, North Korean, Nuclear fears and have em drop those enrichment plans for endless oncoming years.
If wishes were horses I`d have a wild stampede of em trampling the North Korean, Iranian Nuclear Borders with their Godly hooves! An Chavez may be caught up on a Unicorn Horn.


Post a Comment

<< Home