French Bashing is an old tradition

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Depuis quelques temps, la France est sous le feu des critiques outre Manche. D’anciennes rivalités referaient-elles surface entre la France et la Grande-Bretagne ?

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Lax policies and a questionable shift

François Hollande became the laughing stock of the British press. He has been highly criticized by British politicians for his policy decisions. Remember the way David Cameron and Boris Johnson (the mayor of London) were ironic about his tax policy as they described him as a “left-wing revolutionary” (Boris Johnson even mocked the French government as “sans culottes”) and called companies to flee to London. He came under attack over its plans for a 75 per cent tax rate on millionaire earners.  But now the “socialist” made a liberal turn. Some breathe a sigh of relief while others doubt the effectiveness of these new reforms. These aim to strike a deal with business to cut taxes. Most analysts see it as a desperate attempt to boost the competitiveness of France and hike in the polls and at best, a new rhetorical strategy.

François Hollande’s new foreign doctrine

British journalists deplore the lack of change in the relationship between France and Africa and particularly in military relations. They are skeptical about the French interventionist foreign policy and Hollande’s controversial doctrine which consists in “invading other people’s countries by doing it gently”. Again they see it as a form of neocolonialism and a way to reboost the government’s popularity.

A new incredible situation that causes misunderstanding in British media

He has been the target of British critics. Indeed, the case with Julie Gayet was used to judge him not only as president but especially in his sentimental life. British media seemed pleased to criticize the French press. They denounced their lack of offensiveness.

French and British media don’t see eye to eye on the matter. British media are more offensive when it comes to a politician’s private life. But according to the Economist, this case is different because the photographer who shot the president is said to have asked the Elysée Palace for permission to publish it.

Why so many complaints? 

The French feel they are the victims of a British conspiracy composed by credit rating agencies, prime minister David Cameron, the British press and multinationals. But is that really it? The rivalry between the French and the British has always existed and French bashing is an old tradition. However the situation is especially propitious today. England is doing well economically while France is becoming the sick man of Europe (with a sluggish economy, high unemployment and persistent trade and budget deficits). What if the French simply did not accept criticism? In these particularly dark times, France may not want to face the situation and prefer to position itself as the victim of an international conspiracy.

Nevertheless some criticisms are exaggerated or false (as could be seen with the publication of the “slanderous” Newsweek article). It is therefore necessary to find a balance between the positions of violent attacks and defensiveness because both are extreme.

Justine CARLES & Célia SACUTO

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