Last night Nicholas Sarkozy gave a speech in London. It follows the publication of his book TESTIMONY (buy HERE) in English this week. The language is very different from that which we are used to from domestic politicians. I'm not sure I am a huge fan of Sarkozy. There's something quite demagogic about him that makes me feel he's not the full shilling. Segolene Royal has had her fair share of gaffes over the last two or three weeks, but I wouldn't mind betting that Sarkozy will be making a fair few over the next few months. Here's an extract if his speech...
"I want to tell you first of all how happy I am to meet you here in London; in this town that seems more and more prosperous and dynamic every time I come here. I can't help thinking that this energy, this creative power, this life that bursts out everywhere - London, which has become one of the great French cities, owes quite a lot to you. You have brought with you so much intelligence, imagination, enthusiasm for work, and desire to succeed that you have helped give back to London the vitality that Paris needs so much.
I want to teach young French people to live with the world and not to reject it. I want to give every child the taste of adventure and the vast horizons, behind which hides unknown worlds. I want to give to everyone the desire to go and see how people study, how people think, how they work in other places. I want studies abroad, and professional experience abroad to be made easier, encouraged and appreciated. I know that we will not protect the "French exception" by staying apart from the changes in the world but rather we will maintain our identity by committing ourselves to the world. It is very rare that people choose to leave their country without reasons that are good enough to justify the wrench that they feel on leaving the land of their birth.
When Professor Montangier, who discovered the AIDS virus, leaves for America, it is not because he does not like France. It is because the rules of the civil service stopped him from continuing his research which is his whole life. When Debreu leaves for America to win a Nobel prize in economic, it is not because he does not like France. it is because in France there is no place for him in a university because he does not have a professorship. When Mandelbrot leaves for America to invent fractal geometry, it is not because he doesn't like France. It is because at present there is no place in this type of mathematics in universities that are locked into their limited way of thinking.
When a young researcher does not find work in a laboratory, he is forced to go to where they give him the means to carry on with his job and to fulfil his ambitions. When the young businessmen with his head full of ideas finds himself being refused everything he needs to realise them, of course he goes to find them elsewhere. When a youngster without qualifications gives up hope of finding work to earn his living, of course he goes to a country where young people without qualification find jobs and where it is possible to learn a job whilst working. When the retired person sees the savings of a life's work confiscated, of course he is tempted to go to a country where taxes are less swingeing.
To those who have left France because it has lost the taste for risk and success, I want to say that together we can bring them back. To those that have left because they think it is no longer possible to do anything in France, I want to say that nothing is lost if that's what we all want. To all those who have gone abroad and are unhappy about the situation in France and having left it, I want to say "Come back!". Come back and you will see that with a little energy, courage and will, our old country can again do great things.
The France that I want to build with you is open, and once more believes in the value of effort, success, work and merit. It is a France which has broken with the ideology of May 1968 - this ideology which established an inversion of values and political correctness in politics, education and society; political correctness from which young French people today are the principal victims. At the heart of this political correctness that I want to denounce here, there is "youthism" - an ideology which says to young people that they only have rights and everything is owed to them. It is false and it also contains the devaluing of work and contempt for workers. I dare to use the word "work", because it does not burn my mouth. I have always made work one of the principal values of my life.
Whilst the world is changing faster than ever before, whilst everywhere immense creative forces are at work and men are struggling to invent, to create, to raise themselves from poverty and to create themselves a new world, France cannot remain stationary - replying to the world that invites it to join in the hectic race for change, "what's the point?" She cannot tell humanity that invites her to join in building a better future together, that France wants to build her own future alone.
If work is once again to seem a means to freedom, it must allow a family to live decently and educate its children. We must encourage work, instead of discouraging it. We must stop downgrading work and overvaluing money. We must stop making the worker the only method of adjustment in the economy. I propose that an increase in purchasing power should become the priority of economic policy after 25 years of sacrifice, stagnation of the purchasing power of salaries, and lowering of living standards for the young generations - a situation that the 35 hour week has made worse. I propose suppressing deductions and taxes on overtime, so that those who want to work to earn more are encouraged to do it, but without them being obliged to do so.
I want to reform the system by lowering social security deductions and increasing the purchasing power of salaries. I want to have done with a confiscatory tax system that discourages success and causes capital and business people to leave and create employment elsewhere. I want all economic policy to have a single objective; restoring the work ethic. I propose a growth policy to achieve full employment. I want a salary protection scheme for the lowest wage earners when they are unemployed, because beneath a certain minimum, the means to live like a free man no longer exists.
If I want an end to income support without community work in exchange, it's because I want those that are helped to rediscover self esteem through the recognition of being socially useful. If I want all young people to do six months compulsory civic service, it is because they ought to learn to give and not just to receive. If I want the dishonest boss who robs his business to be punished like the corrupt politician, and the adolescent who extorts from his schoolfellows, it's because we cannot ask people to assume their responsibilities if criminals big or small and remain unpunished. If I want the President of the Republic to accept full responsibility for his actions in the conduct of public affairs, it is because I am convinced that the example must be set at the top!
How can we talk of the Republic, when where he is born or the colour of his skin so affects the prospects of a child? In life, there are spectators and there are those that do things. There are those who watch and those that act, those that want things and those that get them.
France needs the French to dream. She need your dreams, your courage, your imagination. France will be roused by those that get up early in the morning, by those that roll up their sleeves to achieve their dreams. Yes it is possible to build the France that you dream about, the France that will blend good living and efficiency, the France that will once again become an ideal for youth of the whole world, the France that will create wealth before distributing it rather than distributing before creating. I want to build this France with you. We will build it together. I have come to ask you to be at the heart of change. If we are together, united, determined - everything is possible."