Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Chirac: 'The only thing the British have ever given European farming is mad cow'

That Jacques Chirac does not like the British comes as no surprise. Kickback Jacques has never been our friend. That he, and our French friends in general, are unaware of developments in British cuisine which have led to London adding more Michelin stars per year than Paris, or to more "Masters of Wine" earning their qualifications in Britain than France is also to be expected.

However, let's not be fooled. Chirac is a superb politician. He has not survived decades of scandal and economic incompetence by making elementary mistakes. I suspect he knew exactly what he was doing when making these remarks in public. The "Non" vote on the EU Constitution was a major political problem for him. Diverting attention to squabbles with the "old enemy", Britain, does him no political harm at all: especially as many French people voted in the mistaken belief that the draft Constitution enshrines "Anglo-Saxon" economic values. The only mistake he made was in attacking Scotland too. The Scots have always been France's "fifth column" in Britain, and he should have flattered them.

Tony Blair is no slouch at political games either. He is perfectly capable of having suggested the idea to Chirac in the first place - acting as the old fraud's spin doctor. At the least, he is clearly benefitting from the diversion of press and public attention to these "hostilities".

We may love France, admire her culture and enjoy the company of her people - but we know they collectively resent "the Anglo-Saxons". They fail to distinguish between a Britain more Socialist than France and laissez-faire America. They are politically so hostile that, having falsely identified economic liberalism as our idea they will reject it forever to their own detriment.

Our love for them is therefore unrequited and sadly - in international politics - we know we can never trust them. A Prime Minister at odds with France will always enjoy our support. Blair knows that very well. He is in trouble at home for the collapse of social order, stealth taxes and the destruction of civil liberties. I suspect he is playing with Europe's future by diverting our attention to "conflict" with France. If so, it may fun - but it is very wicked.

Telegraph | News | Chirac: 'The only thing the British have ever given European farming is mad cow'

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