Sunday, November 19, 2006

Should Blair back Royal

The Guardian columnist Martic Kettle wrote an insightful comment last Saturday on the American and British views of the French presidential election. He basically concludes that the Brits have a knee-jerk reaction to support UMP leader Nicolas Sarkozy because he is aligned more closely with US views on the world and capitalism, when they should actually be lining up to support the centre-left of French politics. Here are some quotes:
It is vital to see all this in a bigger context. If there is one big thing that could revitalise Europe in the balanced and moderate way that Britain temperamentally espouses, that thing is a change of direction in France. Without such a change, very little is possible. With it, much could happen. There is a respectable historical case, bolstered by too many of the Chirac government's international actions, for saying that nothing will ever really change much in France. Yet next year's election will nevertheless come down to a choice between two menus for change. On the right, Sarkozy's neo-Thatcherite cocktail of tax cuts, big-bang institutional upheavals and tough law-and-order, directed at immigrants in particular. On the left, Royal's neo-Blairite concoction of economic flexibility, cultural liberalism and reducing social exclusion.

Nothing better illustrates how Labour's failure to understand the Bush administration has perverted its view of Europe and minimised its once hoped-for influence there. In election after European election, Labour has made pro-Americanism and zest for economic liberalism the sole yardsticks of where British interests lie. They have been for Aznar against Zapatero in Spain, Merkel against Schröder in Germany, Berlusconi rather than Prodi in Italy - and now Sarkozy rather than Royal in France....But when the party of the left has begun to embrace modernisation and the right is led by a scoundrel, as has happened in Italy and France, Labour's moderate social-democratic interests, and Britain's interests in Europe, should lie decisively on the side of the centre-left party.


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