Category: Village Politics
To the casual observer, David Cameron may appear to have been having something of a rough time at the hands of the French this week.
For a start, President Hollande’s promise to him that British second home owners struggling to turn a crust by letting out their farmhouses through ads in Dalton’s Weekly would not be required to pay more tax than they do already appears to have gone the same way as his promises to the electorate as the Senate here has approved – with some amendments – the law allowing the imposition of social charges on income earned from property of non-residents.
Moreover, the French appear to be doing remarkably well in the Olympics, with the tally of medals at the time of writing standing at four gold, three silver and four bronze, placing France a very respectable third overall, while Team GB languishes 21st without having yet gained a gold.
OK, by the time I get round to publishing this things may have moved on, but you get the idea.
Hollande has not wasted any time trotting out a repost to Cameron’s comment that the UK would roll out the red carpet to French citizens who would rather pay their taxes there by thanking Dave for rolling out the red carpet for French medal winners, an exchange of childishness that is a little disturbing between the leaders of two nuclear armed states.
Frankly, the current success of the French at garnering laurels is something of a surprise. When it comes to competitive sports (football, rugby & cycling aside), the French in general seem to show little if any interest. If there were competitions based around negotiating civil service bureaucracy or taking a four-hour lunch, things might be different, but the Olympics generally involve more physical activity than that.
However, thanks to my various moles in the higher reaches of government, I can reveal that all is not as it seems. The following is a transcript of a conversation that might or might not have taken place by telephone a few days ago….
The Right Honourable David Cameron MP, Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury, Life President of the Tufty Club, etc: Helay? Helay? DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?
Minion : Quoi? Qu’est-ce tu veux, mec? C’est midi, putain! On mange!
DC: Oh dear! [Sound of alumnus of Brown-nose, Oxford, thumbing through a phrase book] Ah! ¿El Presidente por favor?
Minion : Le patron? Ne quitte pas!
[Hold music – Edith Piaf singing the Marseillaise]
François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande, President of France & Co-Prince of Andora: Dave, mon homme principal, ‘ows eet ‘anging?
DC: Helay Francis. Quite well, thank you, but I am a little worried.
FH: ‘ow so Dave. Ze missus she is looking radiant, no? And ze sun, ‘e has come to visit – what could be ze matter?
DC: It’s this bally new tax of yours, Francis: don’t you understand that the Right Sort are going to get stung at just the wrong time. I had Fenella Worthington-Britgas on the blower to me only last night. She’s in a dreadful state. She and Rupert depend on the income from their very modest little château in Provence to pay for wellies for their polo ponies. If this tax goes through they may have to raid the little stash they’ve got on Grand Cayman that they were keeping for a rainy day. I could lose important funds over this!
FH: Dave, Dave, why should I care about a bunch of worthless aristos? Zey are a pimple on ze bottom of ‘umanité.
DC: Oh come on Francis. Would you really want me hung out to dry? You’d end up having to deal with whichever one of the Millibands runs the Labour Party and it would be tea and sandwiches in Downing Street with rather than Châteaubriand and that rather agreeable Burgundy we had last time.
FH: OK Dave, ça va, perhaps zere is a, ‘ow you say, a quid pro quo.
DC: Come again?
FH: Sorry, I forgot… you scratch my back, I scratch yours, nod like wonk to ze blind bat, time to talk ze turkey, comprenez?
DC: Oh absolutely! What’s the idea?
FH: You need ze ackers, I need to be ze coq sportif: I need ze Olympic medals.
DC: Oh I’m not sure I could…
FH: Dave, Dave, are you ze la banane la plus haute in Angleterre or are you ze sponker of ze minkey?
DC: Well, I could have a word I suppose, scatter around a few peerages, that sort of thing.
FH: Excellent! 50 medals would do, but at least 12 gold, d’ac?
DC: ….and no tax?
FH: Well, I will ‘ave to go through ze motions, but eet will fall at some ‘urdle or anozer.
DC: Wonderful! I’ll even let you be rude to me in public. Both our nations will love that. Better be off. Byeeeeee!
FH: A bientôt!
Just bear this in mind as events unfold….