So Blair and Chirac are at loggerheads and the Guardian reported the EU talks as a failure - on the grounds that we disagreed with the French and that they were really cross about it.
I must confess that sounds like a roaring success to me. We keep the £3bn rebate and
upset the French ? High fives all round !
What's entertaining is that
a) in inviting Chirac to shaft the French farmers and adopt the Anglo-Saxon economic model, Blair's asking France to acompany him down the road we have taken, where unlimited immigration keeps wages down
and the countryside of Southern England is rapidly becoming built up as natives leave the cities . Chirac doesn't seem quite as keen on cultural suicide as Blair and is politely declining.
b) Chirac's nationalism and the French 'Non' to the EU constitution are being hailed by some on the Left as a great victory against global capitalism. And so they may be. But if Meaders
thinks the revolution is just au coin de la rue he should think again. What Chirac (and a large portion of the French Left) are calling for is a form of welfare state capitalism that is distinctively French. They are happy to prop up strategic industries, bribe the right people
to keep the arms orders coming in, preserve la France profonde and all those family farms with the EU subsidies.
France, despite Sartre, despite '68, is a country which still has a culture and pride in itself. I'm always impressed with the way the tricolor flies from everything owned by the State or the municipality. Contrast that with England.
There's another way in which France differs from England. Over here the Native Brit population is falling, as the need for a joint income to buy a house and a tax system that discriminates against full time mothers drives down the birthrate, and emigration remains at levels not seen for a hundred years. Our population, as David Nicholson Lord of the Optimum Population Trust pointed out
in the Indie today, is only rising because of record levels of immigration and the high birthrate of those immigrants already here.
In France it's different. The population has been bothering them for a hundred years, since the unfortunate events of 1870
. By the 1920s French actuaries and military men were looking grimly at the number of children born in postwar France and Germany - the German figure being some 50% higher. The French worked out the number of divisions this would mean eighteen years hence - and built a Maginot Line
to economise on troops. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
So they wanted lots of French babies - and still do. In this country single-earner families are penalised. I support six people and pay tax as if I were single.
In France a stay-at-home mother gets an extra £350 a month on top of child allowances. So more of them stay at home. They have more babies - the French population is projected to overtake Germany's
in the next 50 years. Chirac's ghost may yet one day look across the channel at built-over, ethnically divided England and reflect on Blair's legacy.
Assuming, that is, he can avoid the kind of scenes that this blogger
ran into in Perpignan last month.