“The country’s woes are many. Crime and disorder remain horribly high; extremist Islamism is rife, despite Macron’s efforts; racism and tensions between communities continue to traduce France’s republican heritage; the economy has been sluggish for years, weighed down by taxes, a bloated state, red tape, militant unions and a residual anti-entrepreneurialism; unemployment is high, especially among the young; and the education system, captured by egalitarian Leftists, is in long-term decline.
Like in the UK, smaller towns, rural areas and the provinces are in freefall, and economic activity is concentrated in big cities. Yet France’s crisis is far greater than Britain’s, and unlike here a log-jammed political system militates against a rational solution. There is no middle France, anti-technocratic but mainstream radical conservative force. The result: extremist parties of Left and Right enjoy huge support.
The president’s latest gimmick has been to abolish the technocratic super-school he graduated from – the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, alma mater of swathes of the ruling class. There is just one caveat: he is opening a seemingly identikit institution under a new name. The vaccine mess has exposed France’s bureaucracy as pathetically inadequate, and thus further questioned its legitimacy.
Hilariously, Michel Barnier, the EU’s erstwhile Brexit negotiator, believes he has the answer. Barnier has always been part of the problem, building an undemocratic Europe and causing untold misery with the euro. Yet he craves rewards for his many failings, and fancies himself as president.
In a breathtakingly hypocritical reinvention, Barnier is now calling for the end of all immigration from outside the EU for three to five years, and a rethink of the Schengen agreement. “
Comment: Yes. France is a beautiful country.
A French Army friend once said to me of the Germans, “They come in large touristic groups, very large groups. They love our countryside. They love our food. They love our wine. They love our women. Who can blame them?”
My title is a reference to the question Hitler repeatedly posed on the telephone to Von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris as the allies approached the city in August, 1944. Von Choltitz wisely lied to Hitler, assuring him that Paris was burning and then surrendered the city to the Free French. pl
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