Austere, moi?

June 30, 2010 § Leave a comment


Is France heading for a British style expenses meltdown? Maybe not, since this is the country where a C’est normal is as much a default reaction as a frothy mouthed Ce n’est pas possible. However, now that details of politicians’ expenses have replaced political debate across the Channel, it was inevitable it should come over here like rabies in reverse. Recently, satirical journal Le Canard enchaîné revealed that the Secretary of State for Development, Christian Blanc, had €12,000 euros worth of cigars paid for him by the nation’s indulgence, while Libération also reported that Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Sport, had €600 rooms for her and her entourage whilst in South Africa, and a minimum outlay of 45 big ones, while watching the French team make a show of itself. This is the same Rama Yade who only a few weeks back complained the French teams’ accommodation was far too ostentatious, while neglecting to mention that it was cheaper than her own. Clearly, in Ms Yade’s case, it’s a question of where the lower orders should sleep.

But these are minor deities compared to the king of the Republic, Monsieur Sarkozy, who looking into his deep heart awarded himself a 172% pay rise two years back, and which he apparently intends to keep while his government preaches the new voodoo of austerity. A note for non-French speakers here, since “l’austerité” is a taboo word here in government circles – only “la rigeur” will do. In addition to the rigours of a wage he awarded himself, he has also gone ahead with a new Airbus A-330 plane for himself valued at €180 million. With Monsieur Blanc aboard, one hopes there are sufficient extractors to remove the smell of his Havanas, since even the best cigars can have a cheesy, tooty waft to them betimes. I’m here reminded of a song appropriately entitled Blowin’ in the Wind, in which Bob Dylan asked “How many times can a man turn his head / Pretending he just doesn’t see?” Well, quite.


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