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Political Faux Pas

Hollande was known as a 'Political Plodder.' A very ordinary man of the people whose reputation as a procrastinator didn't stop people from accepting that his socialistic beliefs could drag France out of a looming economic mire.


This last week has marked 100 days in power for  Hollande but, coming just a few days after his 58th birthday, opinion polls give him little to celebrate on his holiday at the Fort de Brégançon in the Var - his popularity has slumped to 46% from 56% last month.


The Ifop survey showed a drop in support for Hollande  while at the same point during the Sarkozy presidency the former president notched up a 69% satisfaction rating.


In voters' eyes Hollande has not moved fast enough to improve the jobs situation or stop company closures.


His first measures were to sweep aside changes introduced by his predecessor: The social VAT scheme to ease the social charge burden on companies was killed off before it started, the cut in tax on overtime hours was dumped, the bouclier fiscal tax cap for the wealthy was shelved and plans were introduced for an "exceptional contribution" from households with more than €1.3million of wealth.


He has also restored a partial return to retirement at 60, a rise in the smic minimum wage of 2% to €1425.67, a 25% increase in the allocation de rentrée scolaire child benefit - and, alongside this, cut pay for public sector bosses to a maximum of €450,000 and imposed a pay cut for himself

and his ministers. The last being the most symbolic.


However, unemployment has risen 1.1% to get above the traditional 10% mark and although today's figures from national statistics body Insee show that France recorded zero growth for the third month in a row - commentators still forecast the country will be in recession by the autumn.


Rising fuel prices will not help and last week Economy Minister Piere Moscovici promised measures later this month to limit increases, which are now nearing their March-April record.


Then, in September, Hollande's government plans several important measures with the new budget for 2013 and measures for funding the social welfare programme alongside a job creation programme and plans to ease housing problems.


But, Hollande is more of a dreamer, yes, his plans are just that, 'plans' only. But the words 'Go-Getter' will never be put alongside his less than industrious name. And it is most doubtful he will ever be famous for being a great 'implementer' of such plans.  Maybe the history books shall read: 'The Plans made by mice or men!'

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 Plodding through a presidency

William Hague's foot hit his mouth a mite too soon

William Hague, the UK's Foreign Minister has been many things, once  almost, a Prime Minister himself, but this time around he was only baby-sitting the 'Number 10 Fort' when the Assange crisis hit its (Orange) level and Ecuador indicated it was going to give Assange asylum.


The PM, David Cameron was on holiday soaking up the sun rays in Majorca with wife Sam and the kiddies and the Deputy Prime Minister, Lib Dem, Nick Clegg was indisposed. Subsequently, the remaining Senior Politician who wasn't on holiday, Hague had full control of the reins.


Unfortunately, Hague saw the event more serious than it really was and instead of slowing  the horses to a mere canter to think out the chess strategies and ramifications, he pulled the whip - perhaps he was thinking this was his big chance to make a bold statement - and so issued, in writing, a 'not very well-veiled' threat that British Police would enter the Ecuadorian Embassy and seize the 'so called' current - 'proverbial nail in every country's political coffin' - Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder. (The controversial much-web-aligned company known for its 'no holds barred' mentality when dealing with political secrets, confidential state documents and 'Sacred Cows' everyone wished to keep under-udders. This threat was based on a rather vague 1987 law known as the 'Diplomatic and Consulate Premises Act.' An Act which allows for side-stepping usual diplomatic protocols.


However, this 1987 act was only passed because of a deadly shooting, in 1984, from the Libyan Embassy where a Libyan Diplomatic opened fire on a group of anti-Gaddafi demonstrators from within his country's London Embassy killing an unarmed British Police Officer, WPC Yvonne Fletcher. The Metropolitan Police laid seige to the Embassy for the next 11 days, but made no attempt to enter the Embassy. No one has ever faced charges over this killing.


The important passage in this 'DACP' Act states 'that a state ceases to use land for the purposes of it's mission.' However, in legal terms, the Vienna Convention

on embassy rights, particularly in cases of political asylum, over-rides the 1987 law.


Hague in his rush to show supremacy, failed to realize that Embassies all over the world have, on many occasions, even including British Embassies, allowed those who feel they are being harassed or threatened because of their Political beliefs, to seek refuge. This has been ratified in many instances by the International Law Court. 'The right of Political Asylum' under which, any person persecuted for political opinions or political affiliations in his or her own country, or another, may be protected by yet another Soverign Authority. To whit, an Embassy.


It was, therefore, Hague's threat that Ecuador took umbridge to, as have a large number of South American countries, who have aligned themselves with the entire fiasco. Few of whom have a great love affair with any of the European countries who were once in the colonizing business.


There had been no physical violence in this whole entire matter. No shootings, no capital offence, no fraud. Mere allegations and perhaps even unsubstantiated evidence. Simply, a foreign national; an Australian citizen, Assange who is wanted for questioning by another EU country, Sweden. Not forgetting this is a man who has never been charged with any offence in England, nor wanted for any offence in the UK - that is, apart from the fact he failed to comply with an extradition order by the British Supreme Court to appear in Sweden for questioning on alleged sexual accusations. Accusations that Assange and his supporters claim to be a mere pretence to get him to Sweden where he could then be extradited to the USA. all? At this juncture, Claude Clouseau might well pose the question, 'It may well be a ploy.'


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- Anne Hunt -