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Merkel, Sarko and Cameron will need all their communications skills to win the new arguments in Europe

Posted on 6 December 2011 | 8:12am

I’m off to Dunkirk today for a conference of French communications professionals, Cap’ Com, asking themselves whether the public still believe ‘la communication publique.’

The answer is that sometimes some of the public do, and sometimes some of them don’t. ‘Twas ever thus. It is probably fair to say though that people in advanced democracies are less inclined to take the word of politicians at face value in the way that perhaps their grandparents did. The era of deference went long ago. In many countries, and especially ours, necessary media scepticism has long since crossed the line to cynicism. As a result, people also believe the media less than they used to. So who do we believe? We believe each other. That explains the genius of Facebook – the concept of the friend.

The conference is happening at an interesting time. Yesterday’s meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel was significant, another important step on the road to a very different Europe. Communication will be central to their efforts to win support in their own countries and throughout Europe for a new Treaty designed to help implement the kind of discipline that was meant to accompany the euro in the first place. Watch out for the tricky referendum in countries where it might be least expected. Communication will be central too to their influence over the global financial markets that are watching their every move. So to the question, whether people believe communication any more, if the new vision of Europe is to be realised, they’re going to have to, or else yesterday will have been yet another ‘two steps forward, three steps back’ moment for the eurozone.

Communication between leaders is going to be important too. David Cameron put a brave face on events in Paris, arguing that Britain is somehow insulated from all this. But we’re not, and deep down he knows it. We may not be in the eurozone but yesterday the Germans and the French set a new course, which will impact upon us too. David Cameron knows that, and will need better answers than those he tossed out yesterday.

A couple of related points – who the hell are Standard and Poor, and how can it be guaranteed that there are no vested interests at play in their ever more regular pronunciations on the eurozone? (There you go, there’s me being very sceptical about the ‘communication publique’ of a credit ratings agency).

And how interesting that despite Vladimir Putin’s strong control of the media (most of which have not reported the protests against him yesterday), the Russian people are able to know enough of what is going on to generate such a demonstration of opposition. I sense that Merkel, Sarkozy and Cameron are more believed that Vlad right now.

  • Paul

    Alistair, do you think Ed M and Ed B might start communicating at some point, along the lines of Francois Hollande this weekend, about how utterly disastrous the economically illiterate Merkozy Austerity Treaty is going to be in the long term. 

  • Olli Issakainen

    Saving euro is a wrong goal.
    Instead of trying to save the euro, European leaders should save the European economies.
    Eurocracy should stop austerity that is killing the growth, and concentrate on recovery and jobs.
    European banks and Goldman Sachs are now taking over in Europe step by step. Their friends in politics are planning European superstate with tax and spending plans made in Brussels.
    Democracy and personal freedom will go. And capitalism will be demolished.
    Media owned by bankers cannot be trusted in the west. Russia Today is more trustworthy than media in the west.
    Sarkozy and Merkel both want a more integrated Europe. The Federal Reserve may be involved in the “rescue”, but people should remember that is owned by banks owned by Rothschilds and Rockefellers.
    Rothschilds have also a lot of power in the United Nation´s IMF and European Central Bank.
    “New Europe” will be socialist.
    But the new Treaty will not solve the current economic problems which were caused by banks.
    Investors realised within two days that the last “rescue package” by Eurocracy was just a sham. The so-called “haircuts” by banks on Greece´s debt would, for example, have been compensated by higher interests! This would not have helped Greece at all.
    Eurozone crisis has been deliberately created by bankers in order to force Europe into a federalist superstate. The plans for this were made between 2006-09.
    The main aim is to cause a depression.
    Globalists own shares in credit raters. It is easy for them to use credit raters in their bid for domination.
    Former Finnish MEP recently said that Eurocrats are staging a coup in Europe using the eurozone “crisis” as a pretext.

  • Ehtch

    Anyone seen this clip from Russia Today starring Max Keiser, mentioning Ian Duncan Smith being too shit scared to go after multi-international corps like JP Morgan, but is willing to go after us simple brits for peanuts? Some of the stuff he comes out sounds like a spoof, but I think it is actually true.
    A must watch clip, only a minute and a half long,
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8P909RgGvI

  • MicheleB

    We weren’t fooled by the concept of the Euro and I’m not sure how those now suffering from its collapse can think we are being disloyal or unfriendly in not feeling we share the need to part-fund some losses. 

    Had they been caused by real misfortune I hope we would feel more lenient but they weren’t, they were caused by dishonesty at the time of setting up currency parities.  The cash-in-hand countries were always under-funded by taxes. 

    I resent Sarkozy’s complaints about the ten non-Euro EU members but perhaps that’s illogical, I in turn resent Obama butting in about it all.

  • MicheleB

    The Telegraph did this about S&P :

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8937653/A-short-history-of-Standard-and-Poors-QandA.html

    I wish there was a way to be sure that credit ratings are being based on balanced (no pun intended) criteria. 
    The fact that most, including most of those that create personal credit rating files, are historically American worries me.

    • Libdem

      I think you’ll find of the 3 main agencies, one is European (can’t remember which country but it might be France) and the other 2 are American. The problem with them is not where they’re based but their pronouncements/evaluations; remember prior to the crisis according to all 3 everything in the garden was rosy! 

  • Libdem

    I always admire the French as they’re just so obviously fighting their corner whereas our politicians appear to be want to be seen as ‘good Europeans’. The French will support the Germans in whatever they want now as they are just as dependent upon them for finance.

    The people we should really complain about are Tony Blair for giving back a huge part of our rebate and David Cameron for being apparently more pro-Europe than pro-British.

    Forget the Lib Dems as they’ll take anything and everything thrown at us by the EU. And Labour at the moment are not much better….

  • Libdem

    Of course they’re staging a coup, technocrat governments in Greece and Italy, Ireland’s budget proposals being discussed by the Bundestag before the Dail, Merkozy’s stitch-up yesterday, they’re not interested in democracy and they’re not interested in any other solution than austerity. We should pity the peoples of Greece, Portugal and Spain as the EU will do nothing to help and the future is extremely bleak.

  • MicheleB

    VERY on topic with the thread title, two interviews from WatO on iPlayer today: 

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017zts9

    One’s in the first few minutes and with an S&P person (reinforcing the agency’s likely-republicanism) second being in the last quarter hour with an Irish politiican, much of it specifically about Merkel & Sarko.

    I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking there’s something sick about the manipulation of the world that’s within the control of these credit rating people and how they must influence IMF.

    Yes we know that bad creditors are higher risk than richer lenders but there’s something unbalanced about their therefore having such much higher interest rates. 
    Why does a richer nation need to borrow in the first place?

    A nation borrowing in order to improve its infrastructure is surely something to be encouraged and instead of the manipulation of  interest rates shouldn’t the lenders’ role be more about ensuring repayments are / can be made on time (more likely if interest rates are not crippling). 
    Or ooooooops and aggggggh is that sounding like One World Ambitions and the blog’s evidently-popular ongoing party game of Six Degrees of Separation Xtreme (Gone Bonkers) that’s so concentrated on the activities of Goldman Sachs?

  • MicheleB

    I didn’t for one second worry about where they are based.  Dare I murmur a durrrrrrrrrrr? 

    Did I even suggest it with a mention of any addresses?  I don’t give a wotsit where they are based.

    It’s their fundamental philosophy and the manipulation they can exert that worries me.

    There are 30+ levels of credit-worthiness, we are on the second grade and yet everybody’s in a sweat about these unaccountable agencies.

    Yep, the news programmes propagate the hysteria.

  • MicheleB

    It would be far easier to do as you suggest and ‘forget the libdems’ if I didn’t have something named after them seemingly fond of my ankles.

  • MicheleB

    I did my stupid old habit of scrolling over to the Reply box and accidentally ‘liking’ you en route.

  • Richard

    UK governments have used devaluation of the £ as a main thrust of export growth for forty years.  If we had joined the Euro we would have had to submit to external financial constraints which neither party of government was prepared to do.

    Devaluation hid the poor performance of our economy and lack of investment in UK(Plc), and the success of “invisibles” through banking and insurance kept the tax man (and latterly GB) happy.

    Brown toyed and teased re his “Golden Rules”, but I am sure that the Treasury would never have contemplated the “requirements” being met!

    The concept of seventeen (or 27) disparate economies converging, joining up and remaining in step for ever would have required a level of honesty and transparency Roald Dahl would not have dreamt of.

    The imposition of economic, social, financial and taxation requirements upon errant sovereign states, from Brussels, presumably at gunpoint if necessary, does not bear thinking about.

    Perhaps the time has come to bite the bullet.

  • Libdem

    You should stop bowling rank half-vollies then and btw I’m a someone not a something!

  • MicheleB

    Do you mean volleys?  It’s from a very simple rule, as is the idea of not mixing your sports (if not sporting) metaphors.

  • Gilliebc

    ‘…………I actually think he (Cameron) is more genuinely dangerous than either Blair or Brown were’

    This is what James Delingpole wrote in a direct reply to someone’s post in response to JD’s blog on the Telegraph site yesterday.

    As a bit of a not so secret admirer of JD’s uncompromising stance on the myth, scam and con of man-made global warming, he has gone up yet another notch in my estimation.

  • Gilliebc

    What worries me is at this time of uncertainty about Europe and the wretched Eurozone is that this country is being led by the total ass that is Cameron.  Even the Tories can’t stand him.

    This travesty of a government needs bringing down asap.  There was talk of eurosceptics from both main parties joining forces to form a so-called peoples party.  If there is any truth in this I wish they would hurry up and get on with it before it’s too late.

  • Whatifwhatif

    It’s about as unfunny and unworthwhile as any single one of Condell’s zillion or so youtubes 🙁

  • MicheleB

    Grrrrrrr that glitched as it went through again 🙁

  • MicheleB

    Going to break my own rule here and talk about rather than to someone.  JD mixes his meanings a little doesn’t he Gbc?

    What need for ‘actually’ when saying ‘I think’ and having said that he thinks rather than he knows, what point is there with ‘genuinely’ to qualify ‘dangerous’?

    I stopped posting on the Toxigraph after a few months; he’s such a wimp with all his bullying supporters, especially the idiot that hadn’t realised their being registered as resident in Texas kind of took away any cred s/he might have hoped for.

    JD is nihilistic imhoo and that explains his reckless disregard for the world (he doesn’t give a sod about those that are already being affected by what is definitely happening). 

  • Libdem

    I know.