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23 April 2007

A reader writes

Alan Trevarthen squeezes in some of his thoughts on the French election just ahead of a three hour l

By Alan Trevarthen

When I first caught sight of ‘Le Blog’ I started reading with apprehension, but congratulations, it contains some of the most perceptive comments I’ve seen yet. No easy achievement because explaining to the Anglophone world the tactical skirmishing and strategic thinking involved in the French Presidential elections must be almost as hard as explaining cricket AND American football to the French.

Before Le blog I had been reading the BBC’s blog on the same subject. Their’s seems to be unmoderated, open to all. That is democratic, certainly, to let everybody have their say, a noble principle, but alas, too many uninformed opinions kill a blog.

I like the BBC, well at least I like Radio 4 on long wave, (except when the news is put to one side for a month or two of cricket), but I feel the need to give my personal criticisms of their blog here in the hope these comments will encourage you to avoid the same mistakes

1 – Not enough French contribution in the BBC blog.

The French know the 12 candidates. They also know their own Republic and their culture. They themselves have a pretty good idea of what they want in life. Perhaps it is not always achievable but they have done a good job so far (apart from Paris. I’d like to see Paris gain its independance, but that’s my personal opinion from where I sit in Brittany). It is the French who should be able to explain themselves best to an Anglophone blogsite. Apparently, too few have found the BBC site, and of those who have, many appear to limit what they say, perhaps to avoid using English compound verbs.

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2 – There are too many contributions by outsiders living elsewhere. They may never have lived in France, but through their own country’s unbiased press, and their own gut-feeling, they intuitively know what’s best for the French.

(Often these are people who have voted George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, or Tony Blair, for themselves)

For example I see contributions from USA nationals whose main statement seems based on a gripe that France ‘betrayed them’ at the UN by not joining them to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq, and so, it appears, the French should wise up and behave responsibly now, and not worry about their jobs flowing to 50 euro a month wage rate countries.

And I see too many letters from residents of Britain who would evidently tick yes to more than one of the following
a – The hundred years war is still going on
b – The French Empire was less successful than the English Empire because it was in places that did not speak English.
c – The Murdoch press tells us all we need to know about the French.
d – The French were all guillotined during the Revolution, but because they are Catholics they have rebuilt their population.
e – All taxes paid in Britain go directly to French farmers.

I should have let my French wife, Anne, have her say, she is the politically savvy one in the family, but she is out on the terrace, sheltering from the broiling sun under the shade of the fig tree, tearing legs off frogs for our three hour lunch.