Monday, May 7, 2012

Layer 536 . . . Hollande's Victory, Clegg's Nonsense, and a Web of Privilege

Brilliant news yesterday from France - every bit as uplifting as the day Berlusconi was booted out of power in Italy -
French president François Hollande promises 'a new start' for Europe
After victory over Nicolas Sarkozy, Socialist says he will fight back against German-led austerity measures

François Hollande has won the presidency of France, turning the tide on a rightward and xenophobic lurch in European politics and vowing to transform Europe's handling of the economic crisis by fighting back against German-led austerity measures.
The 57-year-old rural MP and self-styled Mr Normal, a moderate social democrat from the centre of the Socialist party, is France's first leftwing president for 17 years. Projections from early counts, released by French television, put him on 51.9% and Nicolas Sarkozy on 48.1%.
His victory is a boost to the left in a continent that has gradually swung right since the economic crisis broke four years ago.
From the town of Tulle in his rural heartland of Corrèze in southwest France, Hollande declared victory. "May 6 should be a great date for our country, a new start for Europe, a new hope for the world," he said. "I'm sure in a lot of European countries there is relief, hope that at last austerity is no longer inevitable."

Meanwhile, here in Poundland, we have the Guardian giving column space for Nick Clegg to make himself look as big a dickhead as he undoubtedly is:
Local elections: this coalition is stable and the centre will hold
The Conservative-Lib Dem coalition isn't about to lurch to the left or the right. We spent two years on rescue. Now it's reform

This is a classic, as are the dozen or more pages of comments beneath it. Enjoy.


The wonderful Gary Younge wrote this superb column today:

A web of privilege supports this so-called meritocracy
On both sides of the Atlantic, the social ties that bind our political, legal and corporate forces lie exposed
Class privilege, and the power it confers, is often conveniently misunderstood by its beneficiaries as the product of their own genius rather than generations of advantage, stoutly defended and faithfully bequeathed. Evidence of such advantages is not freely available. It is not in the powerful's interest for the rest of us to know how their influence is attained or exercised. But every now and then a dam bursts and the facts come flooding forth.
The Leveson inquiry has provided one such moment. It was set up last year to look into the specific claims about phone hacking at the News of the World, alleged police corruption and the general culture and ethics of the British media. But every time it probes harder into the Murdoch empire it draws blood from the heart of our body politic, telling us a great deal about how Britain's political class in particular and ruling class in general collude, connive and corrupt both systemically and systematically.
Issues of alleged criminality will eventually be determined in the courts. But while illegality would be more damning, much of what we now know that is legal is no less corrosive. The evidence has laid bare the intimate, extensive and insidious web of social, familial and personal ties between the political, corporate and legal forces that govern a country: a patchwork of individual and institutional associations so tightly interwoven that to pick at one part is to watch the whole thing unravel. The "sit downs", pay-offs and class camaraderie on display owe more to a cross between Downton Abbey and the Sopranos than the functioning of a 21st-century democracy.
Now that Brooks has agreed to hand over her text messages to Cameron, we are about to learn whether rumours that they exchanged as many as 12 texts a day are true.
Brooks was arrested both on suspicion of phone hacking and corruption last year. She was arrested again this year with her husband, Charlie Brooks, on suspicion of perverting the course of justice. Charlie went to Eton with Cameron – as did the Tory mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
Such is the incestuous nature of the British ruling class and the gene puddle from which it draws its stock. Such is their brazen venality, complicity, contempt and mendacity. Eton, Oxford, Bullingdon, Westminster – if you're looking for a tiny minority who are struggling to integrate, look no further than the cabinet.
The issue here is not class envy but class entrenchment. The fact that they were born rich is irrelevant. They had no choice in the matter. But the fact that they appear to want to give even more to those who already have a great deal while denying much to those who have little is unforgiveable.
Rocked in the cradle of power from birth so that its rhythms become second nature, these people imbibe their sense of entitlement with their mother's milk. But the personal tutors, private schools, the most expensive universities do not, somehow, suffice. As though the benefits of wealth were not enough, they apparently feel the need to game the very system they already control.
Which brings us to the manner in which these interactions mock the very notion of democracy on which the nation's illusions are based. For the meetings, lunches and visits showcase a parallel, unaccountable universe where actual decisions are made and deals are done. 

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