Sunday, 22 February 2009

Finally, I can take some pride in country

It’s brilliant to see that a meeting in Berlin today brought together the leaders of the major European economies, to take action over our economic difficulties. Given the calibre of the people there, how could we be anything but enthusiastic and optimistic?

From Britain we had - drum roll - Gordon Brown who is now fifteen months away from what looks like practically certain defeat in a general election. He and his predecessor Tony Blair led British governments which did precisely nothing about the legacy of Reagan and Thatcher, of ‘light touch regulation’ and banks allowed to do more or less anything they liked with our money. It was this approach in the so-called Anglo-Saxon economies that led to the problem in the first place. Perhaps that's what qualifies them to be leading the hunt for a solution.

Next, from across the Channel – trumpet fanfare – we have Nicolas Sarkozy. His unerring instinct for identifying the key economic questions of the day has led to his more than doubling his own income. Now he’s willing to invest £5 billion to rescue the car industry – on condition that the money is spent on French jobs only. ‘Community’, meaning the EU, is a word that is particularly common in the mouths of French politicians, so it’s heartwarming to find that as soon as the going gets tough they reveal the real extent of their commitment to both the letter and the spirit of European legislation.

And finally, at the other end of Europe, we have – sound of a single hand clapping – the visionary leader of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi. You may have noticed that last week David Mills, British solicitor and estranged husband of Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, was convicted by an Italian court of accepting a bribe from Berlusconi. He has been sentenced to four and a half years in gaol, though he is appealing (well, I don’t find him appealing, but he’s appealing to someone). Interestingly, as Prime Minister, Berlusconi is exempt from criminal prosecution. So we have one man guilty of taking a bribe from Berlusconi, but Berlusconi is presumed innocent of having paid it.

Brown, Sarkozy, Berlusconi. What a trio of success, integrity and exemplary ethics.

Interestingly it’s an important trio for me personally. Born in Rome but of British nationality, I have since been naturalised French. These are the leaders of my three countries.

Who could deny me the right to walk with a particular spring in my step, my head held high, knowing that these giants are bending their powerful minds to the solution of the problems of the world?

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