Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Hollande says no to a 'social amnesty' for trades unionists found guilty of crimes

A badly organised office
Back in February, the French Senate endorsed an insane law proposal submitted by the Communist and other hard left parties for a 'social amnesty' for trades union strikers who vandalise property and commit various other acts of hooliganism in the name of their cause. This law, although it would have excluded those found guilty of physical violence, would have ensured that all those who have been found guilty of other strike and demonstration-related crimes since 2006 would have had their sentences overturned. Pending cases and those on appeal would have been dropped.

The Senate was able to vote in favour of sending it to parliament for a vote because all left-wingers supported it, thus adding to the slender majority of the ruling Socialist party.

Offences that come under the proposed law's remit which I remember being committed by strikers since 2006 include the following;

Ransacking offices, stealing equipment, destroying machinery, arson, cutting power supply, pouring dangerous chemicals into rivers, tying explosives to gas bottles, diesel tanks and reservoirs and thereby threatening to blow up property, threatening behaviour, damaging trucks and other vehicles, fraud, illegal occupation of property and ransacking public buildings.

All of these ofences would have been amnestied had the bill been voted by parliament, but it was not to be.

Hollande and the government have decided otherwise, despite many socialists' advice to the contrary, and so it was that the parliamentary Law Commission decided today to throw the proposed law out. Every single clause of it.

And so much the better.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Two photos - same people

Anti gay marriage demonstrators
There's something about this photo that intrigues me. It evokes something for me but I can't figure out what it is exactly.

Anyway, the gay marriage bill will be voted today so let's hope that things will calm down a bit after that, but the anti-gay movement is planning to form its own political party so we haven't seen the last of them unfortunately.

Centrist eurodeputy Jean-Luc Bannahmias summed up the months long 'debate' perfectly yesterday when he said he was fed up with the 'deleterious climate' that reigns in France right now as a result of this issue, and he went on to say that it has left "a worrying whiff of 'work-family-motherland" in France.

He's right, as was confirmed by an article headlined 'The atmosphere in Lyon recently has been frightening' in my local paper which mentioned that the movement's lovey-dovey 'heterosexual family' logo is now being replaced by the French national flag. It adds that gay-marriage related chants by demonstrators have been replaced by others, such as "France is for the French" and "this is our country [and nobody else's]".This is true, as I have seen and heard for myself, and it's all getting rather hateful.

And as the photo above shows, the demonstations are taking on a more nationalistic tone. Pure white French girls dressed as Marianne, who is a symbol of the triumph of the French Republic. That and the new France-for-the-French chants and the notion of 'work-family-motherland' are disturbing signs of something.

Ah yes! So THAT'S what the photo above reminded me of. How silly of me not to have realised earlier. The people in that photograph remind me of those in the photo below.

Worrying? You bet.

Members of the League of German Girls (Bund Deutscher Mädel), the female section of the Hitler Youth

Sunday, 21 April 2013

At last! Some funny breast-fondling news in France's bitter gay marriage debate

Anyone who has been reading the French press lately or my entries on France's gay marriage debate knows that it has been acrimonious and physically violent on far too many occasions.

So it was good to see French TV presenter Audrey Pulvar and pro-marriage député Rosalyn Bachelot put on a show of pretend-lesbian love recently for virulently anti-homosexual right-winger Christine Boutin in the form of a video postcard. It begins with Boutin's usual blablabla and then there's Pulvar and Bachelot.

Pulvar: D'you wanna touch my breast a little?"
Bachelot: Okay, done.
Pulvar: I know there's not much to touch, but never mind.
Bachelot: No, it's fine, it's fine. I've known smaller ones.

Think of their stunt what thou wouldst, but the bald fact is that the news in France is so horribly depressing at the moment that right now I'll clutch as at a straw at any news story that makes me smile.
 Have a good Sunday evening.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The hysterical extremism of French political discourse is reaching dangerous proportions

A recent anti-gay marriage demo in Paris
As one would expect in a country as cultivated and sophisticated as France, its politicians are erudite, elegant and highly refined in their manner of going about their work and they are to be congratulat

No no no, that's wrong so let's begin again shall we?

French politics and politicians already have the reputation of being amongst the most vicious and violent in the Western world, but recent events have shown that they are now plumbing new depths of frenziedly abject conduct, the likes of which hasn't been seen since Nazi Germany.

"Nazi Germany?" you ask? Don't take my word for it, and here are some examples of what I mean to help you decide for yourself.

On the subject of the gay marriage debate;

Harlem Desire denounces "acts of ideological terror", the "organised manhunt of a journalist", and "goupuscules using fascist methods".

Frigide Barjot says that "A violent law which is to be voted with violence shall provoke violence. Hollande wants blood? Well that's exactly what he's going to get!". UMP député Hervé Mariton talks of "a coup d'état", Philippe Gosselin evokes "a civil war", and Christian Jacob claims that Hollande is risking "a violent confrontation with the French people".

Meanwhile, a Senator was the victim of a blatantly racist remark by a political opponent who said that not only was he not of the same political colour, he wasn't of the same skin colour either.

In other gay marriage news, homosexuality has implicitely been linked by several public figures to zoophilie, pedophilia, incest and child rape and far-right icon Jean-Marie le Pen has accused the Justice minister of being "dangerous".

The public's reaction to all this?

The public's reaction to this months-long litany of malignant, repulsive and delirious paranoia and incitement to insurrection by politicians has been as violent as it has been predictable. Babies in pushchairs have been sent to the front lines of violent demonstrations in the hope that they may inhale tear gas and cry in pain before the cameras in order to garner support for the demonstators, the cars of politically-implicated people are being burnt, some of them are being followed and physically harassed by extremists and homosexuals have been viciously attacked in the street. The national mood is as bad as I have known it in all of the 25 years I have lived here. The air is anxiogenic, poisonous and downright execrable, and there is much worried media analysis of the violent and populist political mood here, a mood which is being increasingly seen as posing a serious threat to the mental well being of French citizens.

And as if all that wasn't bad enough, a record 70% of French people now think that all politicians are corrupt. This is a result not only of the gay marriage issue, it also results from the money-laundering scandal involving sacked Budget minister Jérôme Cahuzac and the refusal of the political class to consider reform legislation which would check the financial credentials of politicians - 'vetting', as it is called. France is the only major western country which does not vet its politicians.

All this in a country which is undergoing massive and traumatic economic therapy and in which unemployment has risen to the highest levels seen in decades. Finally (but not exhaustively) I read a study yesterday which found that over half of young French people aged 25-34 would like to live in another country.

So yes, there is good reason to justify saying that French politics are beginning to resemble what happened in Germany before WWII. And ironically enough that is borne out by the fact that there have also been a few veiled references by public figures in recent French political debate to Nazism and the Holocaust and 'a government which reminds one of how the worst horrors of the Second World War happened'.

French politicians are playing with fire here. The public is already in a highly fragilised state as a result of their contemptible behaviour, and to deliberately whip up hate as is being done at the moment is irresponsible and dangerous.

I would like to offer some advice in the form of two expressions to those whose inflammatory rhetoric and vicous political practices are degrading the confidence of the French people. It is;

'Don't ask for it because you might just get it' and 'he who sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind'.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Q. Will Hollande clean up corruption in France after the Cahuzac affair? A. No, he won't

A tax fiddler. Just like me.
Unbelievable. As you know, Jérôme Cahuzac, the Socialist minister responsible for taxing French citizens, ferreted hundreds of thousands (millions, says the Swiss press) into Swiss and Singaporian bank accounts in order to avoid paying his taxes on his lucrative private business and its profits. That's why he was fired recently by President Hollande. So be it. France has seen worse.

The reaction of the political classes, from left to right? Easy. They all predictably denounced Cahuzac and his actions and they all called for heads to roll, and they all called for draconian legislation to make sure it could never happen again.

So François Hollande reacted. 'Swiftly', as they say.

The idea was that France should borrow some ideas from rather more democratic countries which demand that office-holding politicians should be checked out in advance to see if they are fit for office. Vetting, in other words.

Ah, but alas, it was, and is not, to be.

Because two days after the news broke, the opposition UMP party suddenly woken up and, realising the danger to the interests of certain of its members which would be posed by stricter vetting, is now making it clear that it is against 'Stalinist' or 'inquisitory' or 'demeaning' legislation which would oblige them to render public their business interests and sources of income, and it is also becoming apparent that there are a substantial number of influential personalities within the government itself who, without admitting as much, agree with them.

Even journalists are weighing in against more transparency in French politics.

As for the public, I haven't seen many polls yet but a reader poll on Figaro earlier this evening gave 75% of readers against more financial transparency for politicians.

In other words, the Cahuzac affair will change nothing. This affair will see the usual endgame which is reserved for ethical and democratic issues in French politics.

In French politics, on fait le coq, on s'engueule beaucoup, et puis on laisse tomber, et puis merde....and make no mistake about it, à bon entendeur....

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

French school parent associations bare their teeth, and quite rightly so

Remember this?
Hi, and tonight's subject is the French teaching profession and the decision by teachers' unions to oppose what in simple terms are government plans to implement reforms involving school hours on Saturday morning which the government says will render the weekly routine of schools more efficient and productive.

I don't intend to address the whys and wherefores and rights and wrongs of this proposed legislation, which was announced four months ago, and union opposition to it, but I thought nevertheless that you might like to read some of the content of a speech which was given recently by a representative of parent groups and associations to a meeting at which both teachers and their unions were also present. The speech was so volatile and accusatory towards the unions' stance that it has since gone viral in the Internet world of the French teaching profession. Needless to say, the unions don't appreciate it.

The speech reminded those who listened to it that teaching unions opposed the new system due to their professed concern for "the well-being of pupils", and it went on to deliver a withering criticism of what the associations say is a hypocritical stance by the unions. Here is some of what was said.

[So what you, the unions, are saying is]
"Yes to 'the well-being of pupils', but teachers should only teach for 23 hours a week and not 24 [which is the case today].
For 'the well-being of  pupils' it is indispensable that teachers get a pay rise right in the middle of a financial crisis.
For 'the well-being of pupils' Wednesday should remain a day off.
For 'the well-being of pupils' teachers need to rest on the weekend.
For 'the well-being of pupils' it is indispensable that July and August should remain holiday periods.
For 'the well-being of pupils' we must invest in more teachers before, and to the detriment of, developing means of teaching children to an adequate level.
For 'the well-being of pupils' you refuse to negotiate the issue of homework.
For 'the well-being of pupils' you refuse to negotiate the [universally held to be excessive] weight that children are obliged to carry in their satchels and backpacks.

In a nutshell, in just four months we have gained the sentiment that what was meant to be a 'reform of school routines for pupils' has slowly evolved into a 'reform of school routines for pupils....and teachers',  to the point where it is now no more than a 'reform of school routines for teachers unions' and shall soon doubless be a 'reform of school routines, the [summer] tourist operator lobby, the transport industry and all the rest of it'. But as to the pupils......."

Well said, and about time!!