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Rarely can the summit smiles, backslaps and trumpeteering have seemed so incongruous

Posted on 3 November 2011 | 11:11am

I suppose our leaders have to do that smiling thing as they arrive at summits (though I can’t think they and we would all be happier if a lot of the ceremonials were scrapped, the trumpeteers confined to barracks, and the leaders just got on with the business of trying to rescue the world economy).

There is something particularly incongruous about the smiling and backslapping and walkabouting today, given the backdrop.

A far more honest and representative picture is printed in some of this morning’s papers, of President Sarkozy looking rather menacingly, hands clasped together as though in prayer, at a surprisingly confident-looking Greek PM George Papandreou.

I am doing This Week with Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo tonight (bloody late I note from the schedules) and if they ask me for my ‘moment of the week,’ it will certainly be the moment when Papandreou announced the Greek referendum on the latest bailout.

The French reaction is clear on Sarkozy’s face. An equally grim-looking Angela Merkel alongside him shares his view. So does the IMF boss Christine Lagarde as she stares at them rather nervously.

All so different to the backslapping for the arrivals shot camera crews, or the backslapping at end of the EU crisis summit where the now rocky deal was first thrashed out, and seemingly nobody asked Big George the Big R question.

I’m not sure about the French slogan for the G20 either ‘nouveau monde, nouvelles idees.’ I get the new world bit. The new ideas are yet to become clear.

Instead we are looking at a fairly desperate group of people. I don’t mean anything disparaging in that. They have enormous responsibilities on their shoulders. But when they are described as ‘the 20 most powerful leaders in the world’ that is not how they are feeling.

Bizarrely, the one who seemed to have the greatest sense of his own power is Papandreou when he announced the referendum. Yet he has become the victim of his own move. And he may not be the last EU leader to be brought down by this crisis.

So high stakes for all. And of course the other picture emerging from Cannes, again blurred by the old order size of motorcades and wow factor (Obama still leads on both) is the shift of economic and political power eastwards. China remains way behind the Western economies when measured in GDP per head. But in economic clout, they have moved from Blue Square Premier to Champions League in fairly short order.

Perhaps Eastern power is the new idea on the table at Cannes. It is not however what Sarko’s slogan writers had in mind when they were dreaming of a new financial architecture for a new age.

  • MicheleB

    China’s having declined buying EU debt seems a little short-sighted.  It would have been worrying in one way if they’d accepted the requests (given their yomping up chunks of Africa for some time) but I’m not sure where their export orders will be coming from in a few month’s time if EU situation doesn’t improve …. not to mention US’s.

    I’d be celebrating the idea of fewer people staggering under the weight of bagsful of ‘use it once and chuck it’, were it not for all the people employed worldwide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Duncan-Phipp-macintyre/525048347 Duncan Phipp-macintyre

    I am quite sure by the time tonight’s programme airs this dramatic day will have brought further tumultuous changes. Quite how you are to prepare for the programme, I do not know – Sarkozy’s agenda for today must have been shredded too.
    What on earth can be done now to plug this black hole that is sucking away the future from generations, security and stability from millions, peace and security from us all?
    Ghastly.

  • Olli Issakainen

    The end of democratic capitalism is nigh.
    People who control money control the world - not politicians. 50 biggest financial institutions control a third of the world´s wealth.
    Superclass of 6,000 people has the power. It owns the big banks and big corporations plus media companies.
    Central bankers belong to the elite, too.
    No matter what the politicians at the G20 meeting discuss, it will be the MARKETS that will decide the outcome.
    If Italy´s bond yields reach 7%, the game is over. ITALY is the country to watch now – not Greece!
    Globalist elite wants global solutions.
    It wants global IMF currency Bancor. IMF is a unit of the United Nations (UN).
    Many globalists and the Vatican want the UN to become a world government.
    They also want IMF to become the world central bank.
    The UN has launched a scheme for a world religion.
    Bill Gates backs global Tobin tax. Al Gore speaks of “climate change”. George Soros wants a new financial architecture for the world.
    People like Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso want closer integration for the EU. The aim is fiscal and political union leading to the United States of Europe.
    Crisis is an opportunity!
    Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote in the NYT that things are falling apart in Europe. Soaring rates on Italy´s debt will lead to a gigantic bank run.
    France will be the next victim.
    Only the European Central Bank (ECB) as an effective lender of last resort is capable of preventing a collapse, but Germany is against the idea – and so is the ECB itself.
    European elite must now realise that the only solution to the eurozone crisis is either a break-up of the euro or the United States of Europe.
    Status quo is not an option. It will lead to a disaster.
    We have also a crisis of democracy now.
    There is, of course, a democratic deficit inside the EU.
    But now Greece, Portugal and Spain are already at the mercy of Brussels, Frankfurt and Washington thanks to the eurozone crisis. Italy will soon follow.
    Intelligent people warned from the beginning that the euro would lead to a catastrophe.
    But the euro was a political project. Deeper integration was also regarded by big EUROPEAN CORPORATIONS to be necessary so that they could compete better globally.
    The economic ideology behind the European Union – deregulation and privatisation – is broken.
    Mainstream political parties in Europe should realise this. We need a new financial system.
    We need a different world – but not the one proposed by the wealthy elite.
    As Gideon Rachman wrote in FT (“And now for a world government”), global governance tends to be effective only when it is anti-democratic.

    Ps. Israel is planning to attack Iran. All we need now is another war in the Middle East.

  • Blitz1604

    The Idea part is simple, accept the new world order and get Chinese Money!

  • Gilliebc

    Regarding your Ps. Ollie, about Israel planning to attact Iran, so are the US and the UK it would seem.  There is a piece in today’s Gaurdian about the MOD making plans.  Also, it may or may not be significant that there is a scheduled test due to take place in the US next week on the 9th Nov. i.e. the simultaneous shut-down of all radio, tv etc. news communications!

    I don’t want to sound too cynical, but we all know by now what happens when so-called exercises take place.  Some commenters think the date is quite significant also i.e. 11/9  (9/11).   Surely they couldn’t or wouldn’t be that obvious.  Or, would they?  Maybe it’s a wind-up.

  • MicheleB

    I’m getting a bit fed up of Obama’s JFDI behaviour so I hope the articles  are wrong Gbc.

    No matter what we think of Ahmadinejad he is preferable to the religious hardliners that would otherwise be ruling Iran and he has managed to distribute much of the country’s oil wealth ‘downwards’.

    He has also managed a lot of situations where the Imams got their satisfaction via people being scared witless about beheading sentences but which didn’t happen.

    He never supported the occupation of the US embassy in Paris and he has worked wonders in cutting down the birth rate in his country from about 7 children ‘average’ per woman to just over two (in the stats of course) in one generation (info via the wonderfully brave American Lionel Shriver).

    Israel has been allowed for over a decade to refuse to answer whether it has nuclear weapons, even though they have imprisoned scientists that spilled beans about the industry there.

    India and Pakistan both have buclear weapons and they have been prancing about and threatening themselves (and thereby the world) with them forever ……. or has it all been about MAD (in which case I can understand Iran wanting that mutuality with Israel).

  • Gilliebc

    Well said Michele, I entirely agree!

    Oh, btw what’s JFDI behaviour please?  It’s probably something quite obvious, but I can’t figure it out.

  • Gilliebc

    This eurozone crisis is becoming quite farcical. 

    According to a BBC commenter Greece isn’t even as big as some US states and yet this comparatively small country is causing havoc for the likes of Merkel and Sarkozy.

    I know this is important stuff, because that’s what we’ve been told,
    so it must be true!  But I’m afraid I just find it a little bit funny, for the moment at least.

    It highlights the sheer ridiculousness of even attemping to have a single currency imho.  One size doesn’t fit all.  Never has and never will.

    No doubt we will soon have our minds taken off the economy by that tried and tested old method that is a War.  That’s what they do when the economy is in deep trouble.  However, many people are much more clued-up now on how
    “they” operate.  So if they think people will be filled with the blitz spirit,  they can think again.  They can’t fool all of the people, all of the time.  Not any more.

  • MicheleB

    Just *cough*ing Do It   :-)

    I first heard it when a colleague told / warned me our MD expected that from us in a company I’d just joined. 

  • George

    The problem is that the Europhiles cannot admit what you and me and millions of other people can see as obvious. They do believe in one size fits all whatever the cost. Witness the farce this week of referendum/no referendum in Greece.

    Merkel has already warned everybody that if the euro fails there could be a war!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rebecca-Hanson/100000257957519 Rebecca Hanson

    I don’t know if you guys have seen the latest UN reports on Palestine:
    http://www.ochaopt.org/
    but they clearly show dramatic increases in violence and the systematic shutting down of the Palestinian water supply.  Other reports I’ve read also show that the organised mob violence (designed to clear Palestinians out of areas) is serving to erect road blocks which prevent water tankers arriving to places where the wells have been destroyed.

    (this is apart from the obvious sequestration by Israel of all the Palestinian money – their shutting down of the the Palestinian internet and so on.)

    People on Facebook have been suggesting they would like to donate money to UNESCO and the UN work in Palestine.  Does anyone know if there’s any way we can do that?

    This ties in to the G20 because they have a clear stated purpose of intervening to stop the financing of terrorism.  Should that clear stated purpose clarify that that only takes place if the financing is coming from countries outside the G20?

  • Ehtch

    I am sure we have never seen so many high-ranking World poiticians running on ice going nowhere as we have watched at Cannes this week. They have achieved nowt, it seems. All hot air again, and no real positive action. The World economy is going to fall flat on it’s face if they don’t get their behinds in gear, and being quick about it too.

  • Ehtch

    Would China be interested in buying Greece, lock stock and barrel? That would sort everything out, what with the EU getting an healthy cut to sort out “other” problems. China might very well be interested in having a colony in Europe, no doubt at all.

    Just a suggestion, while thinking out of the box…

  • http://viewsfromuk.blogspot.com Views from the UK 2006

    The German Chancellor giving orders to another Leader, treating Greece as if Servant, are we seeing an German Economic Reich, what happened to Democracy, France should not be to smug, it could lose its Triple A rating, will the French President like taking orders from Germany, would not be new for France, when did Democracy become a dirty word, some of the political and media elite say democracy and Greece with contempt, is the Euro worth more that an X on a paper.

  • Ehtch

    Finally got round to watching your appearance on Thurs night Andrew McNeil’s(!) This week, Alastair, and there does seem some sort of ostrich political tactics going on in the G20, with no deep inner confidence possessed by any from anyone to stick their heads out. All seem to be more concerned not to do a political-career faux pas, and just run with the sheep, chaotically following whoever finds a new path, to, frankly, fucking somewhere else chaotically. That what made Winston Churchill as a fine person – he stuck his neck out, and found himself, Christ-like, in the wilderness for a while. There is a better Jesus Christ phrase for it, but I can’t quite remember it at the moment.

    Modern politicians are daily advised to fly by their seat of their pants, say required soundbites, totally unimaginatively than anything positive on the big scale, just to sound good and not rock the boat. Someone in Cannes should have got behind that mic and giving it straight and true, Johnny Rotten-like. And I am not joking – that is what Churchill said in the Commons to those “nazzie” tory appeasers in the woodwork when he became PM.

    Johnny, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQbfTAWe3no

  • Ehtch

    …and further more on my comments on Thurs This Week, why didn’t Diane-Louise Jordan bring up when Jesus Christ turned the moneylenders tables over in a place of worship in a rage, when the point of money coming from The City for St Paul’s Cathedral’s upkeep? Same thing, isn’t it?

  • Ehtch

    ……even furthermore to my previous, this time going back into the dark distant Old Testement, the rage of Abraham, when he came down from that mountain with his stone tablets, and finding everyone worshipping a Golden Calf. Golden Calf – money in an analagous other word/phrase? You could say, Archbishop Willi boy? And anyway, where is the Pope in all this – hiding away?

  • Ehtch

    Jesus Christ! Got it wrong again, Moses and his tablets, not Abraham. Would have been really funny if I said it was Noah, let alone his sons Jeff, Ham and Japheth – Jeff to his mates, or whatever they were called that rainy day.
    Turn me into a pillar of salt for trying to look back, will you. Song,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=883yQqdOaLg

  • Ehtch

    even furthermore, my theory of Noah, is when people settled on the side of the Nile first, and there was an extra snowfall in old times on the foothills, of upriver, maybe not Nile, Euphretes/the other river? Not long after the Ice Age? That took them by suprise? So Noah was only making a simple metrological observation, and it’s after affects, you could say? But the animals bit was just farming animals of then, not any of this nonsense of giraffes and bollocks.

  • Ehtch

    Don’t worry European friends, “ar y serchod”, we will fight them them on the beaches, after the landing grounds, on the fields, in the streets, in the hills, capitalism will not destroy us, we will fight them on Threadneedle Street, Wall Street, nuclear oxydosed Tokyo – we will not surrender, we are strong, they need our money, no matter how they are looping their loop in trying to control us, while forgetting to control themselves, and what they are for, in the first place. Anyway, Heaven 17, from 1981, have you anything to say, perchance?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJrU9RIurFE

    Heaven 17 is heavy duty Sheffield City, by the way, and Cleggy made himself a total tool when he should have backed Sheffield Forgemasters eighteen months ago. The fucking political cunt Westminster chancer he is. What? The fucking bit? I apologise alright then – get a life!

  • MicheleB

    Bit of spin there George or was it unintentional? 

    You make it sound as if war was threatened, rather than its possibility being dreaded :

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8850969/Merkel-wins-rescue-fund-vote-after-raising-spectre-of-war.html

  • MicheleB

    Yep, Palestine’s new tactics are playing people at their own game at last.

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/with-unesco-membership-granted-palestinians-seek-to-join-16-more-un-agencies-1.393134

    I wonder who’s advising them, directly or otherwise (and not splashing about on the surface at all).  

  • Quinney

    Nothing on Sir Alex’s 25yrs at United ? Come on AC!

  • George

    My goodness Michele, a Telegraph reader…tell me, do you do it in the closet?

    Look at the headline, the journalist has used his imagination, she says that ‘peace should not be taken as granted’ – what don’t you get about it?

    http://euobserver.com/19/114075

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rebecca-Hanson/100000257957519 Rebecca Hanson

    I’m not sure what you mean by that Michele.

    The responses have been:
    The huge cuts in Palestinian aid from the US
    The suspension of US funding to Unesco.
    Israel seizing all Palestine’s VAT and customs revenues
    The shutting down of the Palestinian internet
    The arming of the settlers
    The rapid escalation in the planned Pogroms which are clearing the Palestinians off their land
    The planned destruction of wells and water supplies to the Palestinians by the Iraelis
    Netanyahu apparently deciding to bomb Iran to distract attention from what he’s doing at home.

    You say the Palestinians are now playing people at their own game.  What do you mean?  This is the ‘game’ which is being played against them.

  • MicheleB

    Re what’s done in closets George, I’ll not be speculating about your own activities. 

    You need not get too excited so quickly.
    Shortly (very shortly) below the headline reading:
          “Merkel wins rescue fund vote after raising spectre of war”

    which seems to have excited you to such a degree is this, the second paragraph, including Mrs merkel’s own words:
         “We have a historical obligation: To protect by all means
         Europe’s unification
    process begun by our forefathers after
         centuries of hatred and blood spill.
    None of us can foresee
         what the consequences would be if we were to fail.”

    Patience George, patience.
    Like I said before,
    …….”You make it sound as if war was threatened, rather than its
          possibility being dreaded”…………….. :

    I daresay the headline writer is the person your criticism should really be being pitched at.

    Feel free.