The Corner

And in France….

…the ‘oui’ camp moves slightly ahead. Writing in the Daily Telegraph Charles Moore explains why:

“Nowadays no important French politician (unless you count the cunning but grotesque Jean-Marie Le Pen) dares side with the nation against its rulers. The power of the elites is so great, the intermeshing of education and money and jobs and media and Brussels and Paris is so complete, that to question the system is to exclude yourself from power. This unanimity gives the “yes” campaign obvious advantages. They can control the money – Figaro calculated last month that the government had already spent 420 million euros on trying to secure a “yes” vote. They can control the media – all the main newspapers say “oui” and the state broadcasting service openly expresses the same view; the airtime given to “yes” has been 63 per cent, that to “no” 37 per cent, and that does not include three television hours of Chirac in favour of “yes” (after which the “no” standing rose in the polls). They can offer last-minute inducements – a promised reduction of VAT on restaurant meals is delightfully blatant. One half expects President Chirac to copy François Mitterrand, who announced his prostate cancer just in time to win the knife-edge vote in the Maastricht referendum.”

Actually, when it comes to the disclosure of Mitterand’s cancer, Moore is, I suspect, being a little unfair. If you want a better explanation as to how the Maastricht vote (a referendum on an earlier round of EU ‘reform’) was won, it’s better to look to that sudden – and rather mysterious – rush of last-minute votes from France’s overseas departments…

Moore also adds this:

“It has often been pointed out that the reason why many French dislike the constitution is the opposite from the “no” camp here in Britain. The French, it is said, hate the thing because it imposes “Anglo-Saxon” free-market ideas on them and undermines their “social protection”, whereas British nay-sayers want to be free of all those social chapters and maximum working weeks. True, in part, but not contradictory. What voters resent, in both cases, is being forbidden by people they did not and cannot choose from organising themselves as they would prefer. Jean may want to knock off on Friday morning while Jack may want to work all Sunday: both agree that they should be able to make up their own minds about it.”

Read the whole thing.

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