Sarkozy, The Constitution and Free Markets
22 Jun 2007 - Bruno Prior
Some people claim that Nicolas Sarkozy is France's Margaret Thatcher. Yeah, right.
To quote from the BBC report:
"A reference to 'free and undistorted competition' was pulled from the draft [Treaty that isn't the Constitutional Treaty] after French pressure late on Thursday. Instead, the treaty refers to 'social cohesion' and 'full employment'."
Sarkozy did not hide his contempt for free trade during the election. This is consistent with his position. But those who thought they were getting an economic liberal, simply because they heard someone who talked tough on immigration and liked to swing a handbag, were fools.
Anyway, two good things stem from this.
Firstly, it is clear that this is not just a tidying-up exercise, and that this goes to the heart of what Europe is about. The Government has absolutely no excuse to deny the British public a referendum, given their promises that one would be held for any significant changes.
Secondly, Jose Manual Barroso, Angela Merkel and the rest of the con-merchants can no longer argue that certain aspects, such as voting rights, ought not to be opened up again, as they have already been settled. If something as fundamental as this is still subject to change, then nothing should be off-limits. We should support the Poles in demanding that the German stitch-up on voting rights be re-examined. They were right anyway, but now there is no excuse for trying to railroad them.
Anyway, back to Sarkozy. We really need to sort out what right-wing and left-wing means. People spot a policy that they think is right-wing (e.g. tough on immigration) and assume that the policy's promoter must be economically right-wing. There have been plenty of left- and right-wing politicians who have promoted the virtues of hard work and who have played the race or nationalism card. Including these factors in the definition is not helpful - in fact, is likely to obfuscate.
The right/left spectrum should simply refer to the amount of government intervention and the size of the government apparatus to deliver that. On that basis, Sarkozy is as left-wing as every other French president since the war (ever?). It explains why he can bring in socialists into his cabinet without discomfort.
That also makes Bush, Blair, Brown, Merkel and most of the rest of the first-world leaders pretty left-wing. When things go wrong, don't blame the free-marketeers. These guys who have been pretending to believe in markets never did. It was just a front, a fraud perpetrated on the electorate.