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Plenty for Cameron to be nervous about as confident Hollande takes the reins in the rain

Posted on 16 May 2012 | 8:05am

I was in Paris for part of the aftermath of former Presidential hopeful Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s spectacular fall. The mood in the Parti Socialiste at the time was one of real anxiety, for all the considerable unpopularity of President Sarkozy. DSK had looked like a shoo in not just for the candidature but for the Presidency.

As attention turned to who might step up, none of the options seemed obvious or particularly appealing. Sarkozy began to hope again.

Yet as Sarko and Carla left the Elysee yesterday and Francois Hollande took the reins, he looked and sounded the part. It seemed odd indeed to think there had been so many doubts.

I am aware, as doubtless he is, that the hard part now begins, that a nice suit, confident body language and the continuing adrenaline of the campaign will not take you that far. But a good start is important – and he made it.

There is always a fair amount of pomp surrounding the President, but it is clear he has given instructions that he wants to cut down on the stylistic excess of the Sarko era. I thought the image of him smiling, coatless, waving from the top of a car in the pouring rain, was a good one. The lightning strike on his plane to Germany added to the sense of drama, and the metaphor of storms in global politics and economics.

He looked confident at his press conference with Angela Merkel and with Parliamentary elections ahead he was clearly not for trimming on the campaign promises on which he was elected. So higher taxes on the wealthy will come. The fight for a recalibrated bailout and EU deal will continue. The focus on growth, and the doubts that austerity is the only way forward, will intensify.

On Monday I spoke at a dinner with Axelle Lemaire, the terrific PS candidate for the vast constituency of Northern Europe, made up of ten countries including the UK. Some of the businessmen present clearly had worries and Axelle did a god job of assuring them that Hollande understood the importance of the role of entrepreneurs and finance in rescuing the economy. But I made the point that one of the reasons he won was widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo and a feeling that those who least caused the crisis have been the most punished. (back to my stuck record on the need for a major inquiry into the global financial crash).

If anything Frau Merkel looked the more nervous last night whereas  Hollande appeared pretty sure of his position. He did not come across as someone who had never held ministerial office before. Far from it.

David Cameron will have watched nervously from the sidelines to which he has relegated himself with his silly veto that wasn’t a veto. Nervous because of the bridge building he will have to do with Hollande having so clearly backed Sarko. Nervous because what is happening in the eurozone has huge implications for Britain and he is not as big a player in the debate as Merkel and Hollande. And nervous because a lot of the things being said about Hollande a few months ago echo the kind of things being said about Ed Miliband until Labour started pulling ahead in the polls.

Vive Le Parti Travailliste!

  • Chris lancashire

    What utter rubbish. Firstly, the sight of Hollande looking like a wet lettuce protruding from a Citroen DS was comical in the extreme.
    Secondly, if anybody looked nervous at the Franco-German summit it wasn’t Merkel. Thirdly, if you think the country that is bankrolling the rest of the Eurozone is going to listen to Hollande you are deluded.
    And lastly, where do you get this Cameron watching nervously tripe from? Did you see him? No. Were you there? No. You made it up.
    And of course, Cameron is not as big as player as Merkel and Hollande (or Sarkozy before him) – the UK isn’t in the Eurozone.

    If this is the best you can come out with it’s time for a holiday.

  • Mark Wright

    There is enough time between now and the UK election in 2015 for Hollande’s emphasis on a more Keynesian approach to the Euro crisis to be measured as either a success or a failure.

    If judged a success the economic language of the new French president will have far reaching consequences on the political landscape of this country and Hollande will have achieved that which has eluded every French leader from Napoleon to Chirac…to finally turn the English into a French speaking nation.

    Economically speaking of course.

  • Libdem

    Chris, Labour has to look for some hope in a ‘socialist’ winning somewhere! Remember, they had a nightmare in Bradford and even BJ won. Ed will have to wait and see just how successful or not Hollande is. I don’t think France has managed a balanced budget for 30 odd years so, it’s unlikely it will start with Hollande.

    I thought Hollande didn’t appear to be overawed but then again he’ll be totally dependent upon Germany, and us, providing the funding. Germany has already produced a draft proposal for involving the non-euro EU members in bailing the others out. I think so far we’re in to the tune of about €150bn so, we’re absolutely ‘terrible’ Europeans as the figures prove.

    As per normal, the Germans and the French ‘decide’ on a solution and present it to everyone else as a fait accompli and so far, Labour and the Tories have simply gone along with it.

    Alastair is obviously hoping that Hollande can be the ‘blueprint’ for Labour, let’s see if it works out for France; suspect it won’t but we’ve got nothing to lose and it cheers up the miserable faces for a while!

  • reaguns

    Agree with Alastair that the people least to blame for the crisis are taking the most of the punishment.

    Agree that Ed can do a Hollande, of course he can.

    Regarding say in Europe, this is why we don’t trust politicians. They lie about simple, obvious things. If Britain doesn’t get a say, as the second biggest EU and bailout contributor, then stop contributing! DUH!

  • reaguns

    Yes in theory Hollande can prove if Keynesianism works by next election – or not. Some people cannot use past data.

    In reality Germany might not let him. This will be deemed as Germanys fault, whereas as Alastair has shown above if it was Tories Alastair would say it was proof of Cameron lack of influence. Yet balls has already conceded that France has no say either!

    Finally neither balls or Hollande can make a fool of Keynes, only of themselves. Keynes believed in running surpluses before you spend. He would not back the labour/French method.

  • reaguns

    I’ve just read a savaging of Alastair by Kevin Maguire in the Mirror. I would have assumed they’d be buddies, or at least colleagues what with the labour/mirror connections.

    Shouldn’t Maguire be attacking Tories or something?

    Suggest Alastair quotes the gibberish Maguire spouts on the same page about other topics if he is ever called on it.
    Maguire starts well by criticisng Cameron, Osborne and Hague for telling people to work harder. This is indeed contemptible. British workers work longer hours than anyone in Europe, if working harder was the solution we’d have the biggest economy, not Germany. Never mind the obvious response people will give which is “Give us a bloody job and we’ll work.”

    Then Maguire goes on to slag off Cameron for raising taxes! Oh yes, for raising taxes! So it would seem Maguire will get angry whether taxes are raised or lowered!

    He then says that Spain has a higher growth rate than us. Ok then, so do we want to stick to that definition of who is running the country or will he abandon it when Spain follows Greece and Portugal down the plughole?

    I liked Maguire till now.

  • Michele

     That be Kevin Maguire that was implicated in the Damian McBride debacle?
    I don’t know much about that whole affair, wasn’t around, but have seen it mentioned in ways that suggest Maguire can’t be a tasteful sort of chap.

    I’ve noticed you have a special little quirk reaguns, the absence of a capital when discussing Ed Ballsm yet you manage two for KM even though you’ve gorn orff him now?  Better hope he doesn’t look in and burst in to tears :-s   < great emoticon where it works

  • Michele

     Aw, how sweet, a minor coalescence 😉

  • reaguns

    Michele re Andrew Neil: He got Mark Harper (Tory) and Margaret Curran (Labour) on today and absolutely savaged them! It was brutal!

  • Michele

     I can’t help wondering what post you would have written if F. Hollande had stayed snug and dry in the limo waving out of the window while his supporters waved without response and  while getting drenched.

    I’m sure his suit is of a quality that will revive.

    Big big shame about DSK too; I can’t help being undecided re whether his downfall is tragi-comedy or vice-versa.  All his blasts from the past from women that should just have kneed him are a tad shaming on the rest of us of the F gender.

  • Michele

    ……. ‘nightmare in Bradford’.

    It was bad enough GG exploiting the Muslim vote when it means little to him in religious terms, do you need to do the same?

    I don’t know your gender, I’ve guessed at it but it’s stayed abstract, uninteresting. 
    Mine’s on show by happenstance, real life blahdy blah. 
    I usually think it should be irrelevant on a blog but I do wonder which half of us humans is most generally riled by GG’s adoption of the ‘acceptability’ of marrying another while still attached to the wife before (even while she’s giving/just given birth)?

    Like most of us of a not-very respectful nature I did find GG’s socking-it-to-them performance at the US amusing but I don’t think I’d welcome him standing in my constituency.  I don’t really like or respect him or think him worth using for a blog score.

    You do.  Well done you ….. LOL.

  • Michele

     More care needed re upper/lower case unless it is REALLY meant to mean something in which case FFS spit it out.

  • Ehtch

    Saw Cameron walking down that posh carpeted corridor in Downing Street, carrying his red box, last night, on Newsnight it might have been. Never ever have I ever felt so much to mug a poshoe than then.

    He doesn’t have an ounce of a clue what is happening in France with Hollande getting in. These Tories, Dave especially, are as thick as dried out white dog shit we used to see on our pavements. Cameron gives me the creeps. And Clegg? What a nonse, Dave’s prison shower sharer.

  • Libdem

    I never mentioned GG, that was you Michele; I mentioned the outcome. As for the rest of your comment, can you explain the relevance please?

  • Michele

    Are you seriously claiming your 
    ” ………they had a nightmare in Bradford ……” was not about GG’s ‘victory’ (your word, mine would be ‘exploitation’)?

    As to the rest of my comment …..which describes his exploitation of a religion, the part which means one marriage needn’t be ended before the next one is taken on in addition ….. are you seriously admitting you don’t get it?  How can you celebrate his ‘victory’, even conflate it with BJ’s?

  • Michele

     I saw it.
    He treats our BBC rather like his own little fiefdom doesn’t he?
    It’s getting a bit thin for me.
    The bullying act in public on people he’s decided are his Jnrs to pull the strings of …..
    Do we really really need a bunch of parrots that can simply pull whichever detail he might be focusing on from thin air?

    I prefer HardTalk, the interviewers are equally probing and demanding but the timings are set, not left at the disposal and whim of one person at their own (version of) discretion
    :-s < same one. But then I was never one to watch the bullies do their thang at school either reaguns 🙂

  • reaguns

    What are you implying with the last line, that I was a bully or liked to watch bullies!

  • Gilliebc

    HardTalk is a good format for a programme I think.  I watch it occasionally when someone I’ve actually heard of is being interviewed.   

    Regarding Mr Neil, he is definitely getting too big for his boots.  He is knowledgeable.  Many have said he has integrity.  But it would be difficult to imagine an aging dumpy and ugly woman being given such a large amount of air-time as AN still gets!  The ‘cream of the joke’ is that AN still considers himself a bit of a ladies man.  The capacity of the male species to go on deluding themselves long after their ‘use by’ date never ceases to amaze/amuse me.      

    Bit of a sweeping generalisation coming up:  Women on the whole and in the main are (imho) much more realistic in terms of rating their own importance and influence in the scheme of things.  Women are much more self-critical and accepting of when they have reached their sell/use by date.  Whether this is a good or bad thing, I’m not too sure.  But I am pretty sure that if more women were in positions of great power the world over, women being generally of a more compassionate nurturing and less egotistical nature, the world would not be in the mess it is in.  Or, would it?        

    Purely for argument’s sake I haven’t included Thatcher in the above considerations.

  • Michele

    Call me Dave has been speaking earnestly (call ‘im Ernest?) today in that irritating hushed storyteller way with lots of breathy emphasis as if he’s addressing nursery school children.  Today it’s the ‘perilous’ nature of our situation.  Ours.

    Economists are rubbishing that; the UK has been withdrawing from Greece and selling their debts long before now.  It must be bad for the few of us that own property or land there but these things are meant to be long term purchases anyway aren’t they?  If any were short term speculative, boo hoo.

    If Greece defaults and pulls out of the EU I can’t see it as bad for anyone but the Greeks and their reputation worldwide.  Who will lend to them then?  Why are economists predicting it as inevitable or worth doing, don’t the Greeks have honour to preserve and why don’t the economists want Greeks to remain part of the EU? 

    Is it all about what they can gain from a crisis or what Osbo can pretend just has to be filched (yet again)?

  • Libdem

    Relevance to the subject of the blog?

  • Michele

     Trace it back to the root pet

  • reaguns

    Hopefully no one will lend to them. I support default for Greece, Ireland etc. A consequence will be that it becomes difficult for them to borrow. Brilliant, they shouldn’t borrow then they wouldn’t be in the mess they are in.

    If the rapacious banks from France, UK and elsewhere hadn’t invested in greece then the rest of us would be in no difficulty either. They only lend there because they assume the debts will be paid back by the EU taxpayer. Lets default and screw all the bankers.

  • reaguns

    ” If any were short term speculative, boo hoo.” Agreed. I think between you, me, and Ed Miliband we might have an interesting coalition of thought against the speculators.

  • Michele

    LOL nice one Gbc 🙂

  • Michele

    Not at all, I was simply saying how I feel about AN’s ‘skill’, something I don’t often choose to watch and about that being the habit of a lifetime.

    I’m just back from swimming and am watching my favourite comedy and young Adam has just mentioned a ‘pudding’ – I have no idea what it actually means in his age group’s vernacular but if I’m guessing right it might be just the word I need.

  • Libdem

    Right, it has no relevance! If you’re from the north east pet ok but if you’re not try losing the affectations, makes you seem silly.

  • Libdem

    It’s the rapacious banks from Germany and France who have loaned the money, UK hardly anything. They loaned them money so they could buy things from Germany and France.

  • Libdem

    Why do they need to pull out of the EU if they go ‘bust’?

  • Michele

    Oh dear oh dear, life must be frustrating Chez Libdem; does
    everything there need several goes?  

    The thread was first taken off topic by your Klingon (aka Lib
    Dems) habit of allying with the blog’s 1922-ish poster then adding a few putrid
    asides FOR many on the blog but TO your addressee.

    Sort out your manners. 
    Having suggested I am a liar a few weeks back pet, don’t expect better
    in return.

  • Michele


    In hopes the present glitch doesn’t mean this is
    going on for the 4/5/6th time if it does disappear this one !……

    I’m not contemplating it being decent let them go bust or suggesting they
    default or leave the EU and by all accounts the Greek people don’t want to
    leave (while also not wanting to pay back the bail out).

    Econophiles (and some here) think they should default and leave, along with
    thinking the same re Spain, Portugal and RoI.

    Greek citizens were treated like children in the days of their cash economy,
    anybody that’s been there knows  there wasn’t even the pretence of believing in tax and

    I hope it was really thought by northern European govts that
    their being in the Euro would bring them in to the 21C about these
    things, but their Govt have not proved themselves capable of the change. 
    I’va posted several times in the past that I think the mighty IMF and all the
    other over-arching bodies that supposedly scrutinised Greece’s submissions re
    parity to join the EU must hold some of the blame (or maybe I should have typed
    ‘own’ as they certainly don’t appear to be holding on to it …. wth are

  • reaguns

    France and Germany loaned more yes, but if the UK did not lend anything then we should care not a jot in terms of banks and lending.

    We shouldn’t care in terms of commerce either but I realise that will be a brick wall on this blog. Basically if they can’t buy our stuff, then we sell it elsewhere, if elsewhere won’t buy it we don’t sell it, or we sell it to ourselves. No biggie.

    Anyway we buy far more from europe than they buy from us. It’d be great if we stopped buying from them, or if we got what we buy cheaper.

  • reaguns

    Michele if you have deliberately taken to talking in riddles that I can’t understand lately, then congratulations, mission accomplished. In the past 2 weeks you have made at least 10 of these sort of posts where I have to guess half of it and have failed.

  • Michele

     ‘loan’ is a noun, it is not a posh way of saying someone will ‘lend’ or ‘lent’ something.
    😛     < That's another I love where it's as apt.

  • Libdem

    I think you mean leave the euro although there’s actually no mechanism for leaving once you’ve ‘joined’.

    The only way they’ll become competitive with the likes of Germany is by getting out of the euro one way or the other. The same applies to Portugal and Spain, don’t know about Ireland. The IMF shouldn’t have loaned them a penny until they’d opted out of the euro; typically it was a stitch up by the French-run IMF and the EU.

    Think you’re getting confused between the EU and the euro Michele.

    There was a Greek on Portillo’s programme explaining how their tax system was still manual; maybe we could ‘sell’ them a system after some re-design work.

  • Michele

     You’ve really got to stop thinking it (ie: it = anything or everything) is about you reaguns.

    The post is about AN and what you regard as ‘skill’ (while I regard his hold as just a monopoly, a little like an empire). 

    You think he resents having not been ‘given’ Newsnight; I reckon that needs a more reactive role (re the day’s events), I love that they have so many unlikely/unglam reporters.  I’m sure AN prefers what he has, a programme that he can design and time and control.

    Re what the character Adam had just said …. it later transpired that it might have been crude so not to be explained here.

  • Libdem

    We’ll never break the ‘cartel’ of France and Germany in the EU. The French are too interested in their ‘influence’ and everyone else paying for their lifestyle. The Germans are just interested in supporting their industry and selling to the rest of the EU.

    I like the idea of the EU but not us subsidising nations as rich as us. I think we need to re-negotiate our relationship with the EU. BUt I must confess, I find it seriously worrying that Germany can make a go of it and we can’t; it suggests that we have serious problems.

  • Michele

     KM was great on Any Qs this week !!

  • Michele

     Yes, I typed EU instead of Euro, however I don’t think there would be much choice of anyone staying in the former if they default on their debts to the latter.

    Think you’re still getting confused between loan/ed and lend and lent pet.  Stilllllll ….. if it makes you feel posh, do carry on.

  • Libdem

    I’m sure the EU leaders will be hanging on your every thought Michelle.

  • Michele

     Oh for g*d’s sake are you always drunk?  Can you step away from your kb when you are or just lie down and out of reach of it?
    Which Euro leader, local politician or mere constituent would think it allowable for Greece et al to stay in the EU if it/they default/s on  old debts as well as the bailouts they can’t survive without?

    Nobody forced Greece to LEND as much as it did.  Its politicians are supposed to be trained adults. 
    Surely they knew that other countries didn’t behave as they did?  It’s a bit like pretending the northern Italians don’t deplore the way southern compatriots behave re tax and the law.

    Grow up fgs, get objective about posts and behave less stupidly re postER/s.

  • Damian Moore

    A wet lettuce ? Rubbish. Thanks Alastair, I agree : Hollande is sure of his position and less nervous than Frau Merkel : the last few weeks have proved it !
    Vive le Parti Socialiste, Manchester United, Eric Cantona et Alex Ferguson