As the days are getting shorter, so it seems are the newsworthy men.
John Bercow elevated to the Speaker’s chair, by tradition, not because he couldn’t reach it unaided, was not a popular choice with the unimpressed electorate, but then it has nowt to do with them, does it? At least he can read from his notes without following the words with a stubby little finger. If MPs want to elect as their chairperson, a man short on morals where expense troughing is concerned, and even shorter of supporters in the Conservative Party, to bite the ankles of errant MPs for the next few months, then we must accept that. The last revenge of the embattled Labour Party, on a par with those spurned lovers who carefully unscrew the end of the curtain poles in their paramour’s apartment, and pack the hollow tube with rotting prawns, certain that the stench will remain long after they are a bitter memory.
Another of the ‘vertically challenged’ has fared rather better in the news today. Nicholas Sarkozy, apparently taking a leaf out of Gordon Brown’s book, by announcing a ‘commission to look into’ rather than actually doing anything, has cleverly divided the socialists in France, and endeared himself to the conservatives, by announcing that the ‘does-my-bomb-look-big-in-this’ all enveloping burkha is degrading to women and should be banned.
“I tell you we must not be ashamed of our values, we must not be afraid of defending them.”
One of the most endearing features of France is their strong belief that those who come to live in France, must adapt to the French way of life, not for France a Health Service spending millions on translating every document in sight, nor an educations system attempting to teach in fifteen different languages.
A few months ago, I spent several weeks battling with Apco, the organisation charged with teaching French to immigrants who cannot speak the language. Every single document was in formal French, every single telephone conversation in colloquial French delivered at machine-gun rate, even I had to enlist the help of a French friend to understand that I was ‘too highly educated’ and that my French was ‘too competent’ to avail myself of their services…….and this is an organisation that is designed to assist uneducated non-French speakers!
Equality is a founding principle of the Republic of France, and taken very, very, seriously here. I am able to sign my husband’s tax form for him, as he was always able to sign mine in England – and women automatically, indeed, must specifically renounce, if they wish to, their right to independently held property on marriage.
The Burkha has always divided the left in France, a land which has so far absorbed some five million Muslims – those who espouse multiculturalism – and there are one or two, will loudly proclaim their belief that this is Islamophobia, and mutter about civil liberties and human rights; the louder voices will come from those on the left who espouse feminism and the equal rights of women. However, upholding France’s commitment to secularism, and managing to be in conflict with Barack Obama, who in Cairo recently attacked the French ban on headscarfs in schools, will do nothing but endear him to the UMP conservatives.
A win-win situation for little Nicholas.