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Posts Tagged ‘Anglo-French relations’

Take a look at this promo video a French friend sent me. If you watch it through you’ll notice something strange. It’s meant to be a video crossing linguistic and cultural barriers – by the youth of Europe for the youth of Europe – urging them to vote in the European elections.

Yet the British are conspicuously absent. The English subtitles and a few good attempts by (my guess is) a Scandinavian at an English accent cannot mask the fact that our fellow countryman have not got involved in this project.

From my experience of living in France, Brits have a bad reputation when it comes to politics. According to the stereotype, we’re too busy drinking tea to get down to the polling booth.  

Poor British turnout in the 1999 European elections seemed to confirm this. Just under 23% of us voted, compared with the 50% of Europeans who cast their ballots.

Our performance in the last European elections was, however, much better, with 39% of Brits turning out.  In 2004 we showed Europe that, although are feelings towards it are often at best ambivalent, we at least cared enough to have a say on its policies. Unlike France, there has actually been an upward trend in Britain in voter turnout in the European elections.

Whatever the reasons for us not being involved in Five Friends for Europe campaign, we can still show our amis across the channel that we’re politically engaged enough to vote in the EU elections.

Still unsure? Try votematch – a quick online questionnaire which works out which parties you agree with most by getting you to click “agree” or “disagree” to different policy statements. Even if it doesn’t throw up the party your heart tells you to vote for, at will at least get you thinking about the issues.

See you at the polling station…

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On French television a couple of days ago Sarkozy declared France would not commit the same economic errors as Britain, saying:

 «Les Anglais ont fait le choix d’une relance par la consommation avec, notamment, une baisse de la TVA, dont on voit bien que ça n’a amené absolument aucun progrès.»

[ “The English chose to boost [the economy] through consumer spending by lowering VAT, which, we’ve seen, has led to absolutely no progress.”]

Downing Street responded in that most typical British fashion – it resorted to irony, telling reporters:

“The Elysee have been in contact this morning to assure us that these remarks were not meant as a critique of UK economic policy – which is nice.”

Less than a year ago on a state visit to England, the French premier had promised that an “entente formidable” would develop between the two countries.

It should be no surprise that this beautiful promise didn’t come to fruition. From William the Conqueror to more modern times when De Gaulle said non to Britain joining the ECC, the Anglo-French entente has always been something of a love-hate relationship.

That Sweet Enemy by Robert and Isabelle Tombs is a brilliant book documenting this relationship from the time of the Sun King to the present. I would definitely recommend it. It’s humorous, insightful and well worth the read. Although at nearly 800 pages, it is perhaps too long, so you might want to just dip in and out of chapters.

For something far less time-consuming, see the YouTube clip below. Before you do, I just want to say I absolument don’t agree with the politics behind the video but it is funny nonetheless.

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