Mon centre cède, ma droite recule, situation excellente, j’attaque. The lower he sinks in the opinion polls, the more pugnacious Nicolas Sarkozy becomes. His favourite target is Britain – specifically, free-market capitalism as he imagines it to be practised in Britain.
Earlier today, in an especially bizarre outburst, he picked on the Financial Times. ‘The FT, as they say in informed circles, has always defended the Anglo-Saxon model, considering the French incorrigible and that we would do better to align ourselves to the Anglo-Saxon model,’ he said during a television debate. ‘The FT has thought for many years that the solution for the world is that there should be no law. I think exactly the opposite.’
There’s nothing wrong with national stereotypes, Sarko, but get them right, death of my life and the sacred blue. The notion that the FT is a doctrinally capitalist newspaper is so far off the mark that it’s hard to know where criticism should begin. Since at least the early 1980s, the FT has been a corporatist paper of the Centre-Left, occasionally pro-business, but never pro-market. It opposed Margaret Thatcher’s economic reforms, taking its hostility so far that it was, in effect, the only British newspaper openly to regret her victory in the Falklands War. Never mind Tony Blair; it backed Neil Kinnock in 1992. It was the single strongest supporter of ERM membership. It loudly applauded the monetary splurge which followed the credit crunch.
It is the most Euro-enthusiast daily newspaper in the country. Its ludicrous pronouncements on the success of the single currency could fill a book. Indeed, they have filled a book: Guilty Men by Peter Oborne. Here is one of my favourites:
“With Greece now trading in euros, few will mourn the death of the drachma. Membership of the eurozone offers the prospect of long-term economic stability.’