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

February 20, 2007

Ségo: it's tough being a woman

This site has now moved to Salut!

However you look at it, Ségolène Royal's television audience - a peak of just under 10.6 million viewers, an average of 8.9 million - proves she is a remarkable draw.
The average was comfortably higher than the ratings for her rival Nicolas Sarkozy's similar broadcast, itself described as a record for a political programme in France, two weeks ago.

Many people will have tuned in expecting, a lot of them hoping, to see Ségo stumble and fall. But she will take huge comfort from the figures, believing the massive penetration will help her rise above media, opposition and even Left Bank intellectual disdain.

Some will remember mention here of her steeliness and ambition being seen as faults, whereas in a man they'd be hailed as virtues.

This notion surfaced again the other day when she reacted sharply to questions about the abrupt resignation, allegedly over funding of her programme, of an economic adviser.

It was certainly an eyebrow-raising moment, and poor PR, but the writer of one column I saw couldn't resist adding that she was too quick to reveal herself as hard. Sarko seems to get off much more lightly when he makes ill-considered ripostes.

Last night, she argued that running for the presidency was harder for a woman, that no man would have had his competence questioned as constantly as has happened to her.

It was a long programme but I felt Royal did reasonably well after a ponderous start (not her fault; the first questioner was allowed to ramble for ever).

She made the right noises (for the left, so to speak) on youth unemployment, pensions, small businesses and the disabled. And she refused to be wrong-footed by questions about the Parti Socialiste "elephants", not least what role if any she would hand as President Royal to her partner François Hollande, the general secretary.

The moment when she walked over to console a wheelchair-bound man, in tears as he described living with MS, could have been embarrassing but wasn't. It looked a genuine gesture, but I suspect it will also have done her no harm.

I found her a little less assured on the presidency itself - "I think I am ready" hardly had the ring of confidence - and on that thorny issue of how she will pay for her programme. But Sarko has unanswered questions in that area, too.

François Bayrou, the centrist candidate who has been steadily improving his showing in the polls, is an interesting sideshow. I simply do not believe the poll that found he would beat either Ségo or Sarko if he made it through to the second round, but he is capable of inflicting damage, especially on her.

Royal's best bet, provided she can finally sort out her unimpressive campaign team, is that those 10.59 million viewers - isn't that 10,589,000 more than are canvassed in the average poll? - liked not only what they saw, which is usually the case, but what they heard, too.

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This site has now moved to Salut!


At February 20, 2007 1:23 PM, Blogger Roger said...

I am sorry; I was not impressed. I fear, Colin, that you have fallen too far under her spell or that you are maybe just a little too proud of having spotted her first that you watched as if through the eyes of a school boy with a crush. OK, her reaction to the man in the wheelchair was, I found, truly touching. (I didn’t even pretend to stick my fingers down my throat). But she promised everyone what [she thought] they wanted.

The first questioner, “allowed to ramble for ever” feared the pension system would create financial problems for our children and grandchildren. Her answer? Increase pension payments.

Raise pensions, increase the minimum wage, no to inflation, end youth unemployment, don’t touch the retirement age or special regimes for train drivers and fonctionnaires. And where’s the money? Why those wicked CAC40 companies that have had the bad taste to make a profit (abroad, mainly) have plenty. Ooh, yes. That’ll work.

At February 20, 2007 1:27 PM, Blogger Robert Marchenoir said...

The poll saying that Bayrou would win if he made it to the second round also says he will not make it to the second round.

In French: si ma tante en avait, on l'appellerait mon oncle.

Despite that, Bayrou will probably go on ranting about being unfairly treated by the capitalist media, who "have a Ségo-Sarko bias".

How big business is supposed to whip up propaganda for Ségolène Royal's distinctively anti-capitalist agenda, as opposed to centre-right Bayrou, is beyond me.

At February 20, 2007 1:45 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Roger: I hope I made it clear that I felt she did reasonably well but no more - it could have been a total disaster for her. Oddly enough, someone on the Guardian site - responding not to my piece but to another on Sego - suggested I was ex-Telegraph, therefore right-wing and anti-Sego

Robert: I'd be interested in your views - good or bad - on my piece for The First Post today, written v v early of course, given your previous comments.........

At February 20, 2007 2:16 PM, Blogger Roger said...

Yes, it is hard not to notice that comments added on the Guardian site seem to favour those who would appear to be Mme Royal's natural supports. Nevertheless, I have appreciated all the articles that I have found there, but have chickened out of adding any contrary comments for fear (as what the French would call ‘an Anglo-Saxon liberal’) of being as welcome as Richard d’Orleans at a “two fingers up to the cheese-eating surrender-monkey” party for Sun journalists. So there, I shall just lurk quietly in the background.

At February 20, 2007 5:40 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Dear little Hippo has swum up to the beach.
Bermuda, he knew was within his reach.
Many a sight,many a tale,swimming the Atlantic.
Not your everyday peach.
None the less, hearty of heart.
As promised before, he'll do his part.
A smile with his wave, just for you.
Remembering the Memories, he keeps of you.

At February 20, 2007 5:42 PM, Blogger richard of orleans said...

Roger do they really have those types of parties? With Murdoch all is possible.
I thought she was pretty good. We will have to see if it has had any impact on the electorate. Unfortunately the wind has gone out of her sales, the socialist party does little for her and the media have lost interest. The journalists have decided that the fun is to be had over with Bayrou.

At February 21, 2007 8:17 PM, Blogger Roger said...

Richard, The Sun is generally more beastly to the Germans, but then it’s not only the Murdoch crew that like to quote the Simpsons. Richard Adams on the Guardian’s Comment is Free site has just given us this useful link:


This correction, at the foot of the article, is priceless:

The following was printed the Guardian's Corrections and Clarifications column, Thursday February 13 2002

The description of the French as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" was not coined by Bart Simpson. It comes from the Simpsons character Groundskeeper Willie, the Scottish immigrant who takes care of custodial matters at the elementary school.

At February 21, 2007 8:31 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

But all credit to them for correcting their mistake....
"Cheese-eating surrender monkeys;" not an expression I can imagine SH ever using.

At February 21, 2007 9:58 PM, Blogger SH said...

I take the last part of your post as a compliment, Bill Taylor. I have always considered that particular expression as childish, pointless and wet and object to the Yanks putting it into the mouth of a Scottish immigrant, however fictional. It's on a par with kids in the playground chanting "skinny-ma-linky longlegs" at some tall, thin child.
Sorry to lapse into the vernacular and I'm not sure about the spelling; it's not something one often sees written down. Perhaps you're familar with it from a childhood in the north of England.

What have the Americans got against cheese? True, there's no great American cheese that springs to my mind like Roquefort, Brie, Gorgonzola or Parmesan do.(One can buy Canadian cheddar though.) Anyway the stupid comment is on the same level as renaming French fries and where do monkeys come into it?

At February 21, 2007 10:45 PM, Blogger richard of orleans said...

I suppose it's good to see the Anglo Saxons fighting amongst themselves and calling each other names. But watch out, the Brits will start turning to Europe and stirring up trouble over here. I think Sarko and definetly Ségo have rumbled their nasty little games and won't be soft like Chirac. Big heart, nice guy but too naive by half.

At February 21, 2007 11:43 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

No, "skinny-ma-linky longlegs" is a new one on me, SH. But there are some I recall from the north-east that I wouldn't want to repeat here.
I'm sure there's a decent American cheese somewhere in the country but mostly what you see on sale is actually called simply "American cheese" or, alternatively, "brick cheese." Some Canadian cheddar isn't at all bad, especially when it's been aged properly, but to get really good cheeses, you have to look to Quebec. Almost on a par (though not with the same range) as France. Now, if we could only improve our whisky...

At February 22, 2007 10:56 AM, Blogger Roger said...

I once brought back a spray can of stringy “cheddar-flavored” cheese from the United States, just to show the kids. They loved it and insisted that next time I bring as many cans back as I could fit into my case. But how would you explain the mass-import of sprayable cheese to French customs?

And a couple more cheesy dips:

“How can you be expected to govern a country that has 246 kinds of cheese? “ - Charles de Gaulle

“Britain now produces more cheeses than France” – The British Cheese Board - http://www.cheeseboard.co.uk/news.cfm?page_id=74

So now we know why it all started going wrong.

And finally, in defence of my kids, I must explain that I don’t think they actually ate any of the horrid stuff. It was the wonderfully disgusting squirty noise it made, and the mess, that really attracted them.


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