Close Shave

What a lucky escape France has had. I have been reading with interest the continuing twists in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn story.

A few months ago, this guy was the Socialist front runner to lead the party in an electoral campaign for the French Presidency. In his recent debates with Nicolas Sarkozy it was clear that he could run rings round him and I think we can honestly assume, hand on heart, he would have become the next President of France. He was seen from inside the party as the person who could pull together the divides and factions that were rife up until just a few months ago.

Then the Soffitel affair broke and more recently the Carlton affair. His chances of ever becoming President were gone (and are gone for good). Some actually referred to it as political suicide, a deliberate act. Who knows?

But what would have been France's position had he been elected ? France has had a very close shave. We were so close to be joyfully electing, the mirror image of Italy's Berlusconi. Despite his outspoken socialist stance, Mr Strauss-Kahn is in reality a true capitalist with a very liberal interpretation of what is ethically correct.

François Hollande may be a "damp squib" as reported in the UK press, but thankfully, we have narrowly avoided bringing to power a man who couldn't even maintain a check on his own morals - let alone that of an entire nation.

Simplistic but appropriate - get yourself some kip before you drop!

Well it is a very simplistic example I used, but it gets the message across. I was a bit uninspired last night and extremely tired.

Yes, I am a der Spiegel subscriber (amongst the other rags) and read it in the original language which is slightly more explicit, if you can imagine that, but choice of words in German and translation are a hard one to get together. I am also a Paul Krugman admirer, he is a trustworthy economist, which is hard to say of many others. His point about the 'zhombie' policy is so right and he very precisely and briefly puts down German political economics as never going to have worked. Strange expressions to English like 'wishing for a pony' but he is getting the point across and that is that the debt comes out of the damned banks having invested in their countries' own debts and now being in deep trouble. I hope other economists are singing from the same sheet.

AS for what Nick is saying, well absolutely. Indeed again it is what Warren Buffett said ages ago. I know I refr to him often but I am not a fan, simply I see he has his eyes wide open and his mind and is putting money back into society which is where the insurance brokers who take over woodworking companies, using Nick's example, wander about clueless, mismanaging, dumping shares too quickly and driving stock values down artifically. A financial manager can read accounts and bank statements but does not know beech from teak and what a market wants, he will simply attempt to have production of what appear to be successful lines increased at raised prices at the loss of others that have everey possibility of coming into 'fashion' and doing better. No good, must end. Markets need market experts not abacus twiddlers.

I did Celeste, thank you. Good housekeeping and intelligent banking = long term growth. Get rich quick has no place.

I will never understand how the shares in a company are owned by people who have no idea about the industry nor the running of a company.

You take a time served carpenter and put him at the head of a woodworking company, he will know the right time to buy the raw timber, the best installations required, where to find the best carpenters and at what price. He will make the most solid case for a long term investment.

Put a financial manager in place (as the shareholders require) and it's about year on year (or less) returns. They cannot see further than the end of their nose (if they can see it at all, it being shoved so far into the trough).

Thanks for the article.

Yes Brian. 'Twas a rough night. Extremely tired so apologies.

Were you meaning 'soul' rather than the bottom of their shoes ( or even ar-soles, if we wish to be really straight down the line)?

Sell their sole to the highest bidder (so long as there are no other soles to sell first).

Nick, now - now, remember cheap has another meaning and is there any living being cheaper than a politician?

Let's see, I don't see the coffers full following the austerity regime. Nor do I see the leaders of that regime having been particularly austere themselves.

Nice shiny new plane Mr Sarkozy...and the oven only cost €75.000 - bargain.

It's a case of do as I say don't do as I do.

Is he the hooror story who got away with so many

Is he the horror story who got away with all those rape charges?

Oh yes celeste, bins in the UK too. There is even a handbook for scavenging online if you wish to look for it.

I agree about modern morality against the historical, but then the change in morality from the late 18th to the early 20th centuries turned everything on its tail. Where we are now is trapped by those who believe that 19th century morality gives us all that is precious and should guide us but denies the older moralities that saw popes in Rome with a bevy of concubines because that is what their aristocratic upbringing made them expect to have, and priesthoods (protestant, orthodox, coptic and catholic) who all but robbed the people they 'ruled' by fear of damnation.

I do however feel the German and French hegemony alleged to be driving for a United Sates of Europe is an exageration. No European countries get on well enough for that ever to materialise, despite the kind of vision projected in Westminster who fear they would not be the capital of that super state. Five or so years back I already saw the Merkel model pushing too hard, Sarko joined in and drove it too hard. What has always stood against it is the sheer insanity of allowing the bankers the unbridled rush for riches and little tax they were allowed. The countries who are beginning to succeed, the BRICs, have regulated banks - indeed Brazil is busy nationalising them. Europe should be learning from others not demanding everybody learns from us. Is Hollande the man to start the turn round? Doubt it looking at his background, family and all. Can he bring Merkel back down to earth? Doubt it also, but if she loses the election next year perhaps he might lead for a little while. In reality there is probably very little going to change except that Greece might put a spanner in the works and that will be that.

Just to pick up on one point Celeste (sorry I'm a bit rushed this afternoon) people rooting through bins for food is alive and well in France too.

Roger - I believe that line of thought to be sheer commonsense, I'll go along with it.

exactly Roger,especially in these unstable times- only a madman would want to be president under the current conditions...........

There is a line of thought that says that anyone who actually WANTS to be a politician or a policeman, should be immediately barred from those positions. ;-)

Jane. Couldn't agree more - especially the testosterone bit.

Interesting. I was at a reception for a charity at No 10 and the late Joan Lestor was there as the chair of our invited guest charity with myself tagging along as the secretary. She introduced me to John Smith and said he should have a word with me about thinking about standing one day. I think I recoiled in horror. I am far too left for Labour, indeed I doubt there is a UK party who would have me being of a very purist socialist view - thus contemptuous of all including so-called communists. I told Joan later I was not up for it. My private life, then I was just out of marriage three and have a son out of... No skin off my nose, it would never have deterred. What attracted people a great deal was the Cantabrigensian credential and my working relationship with UN agencies, Martin Ennals at Amnesty and so on. It was not whether I would have made a good politician, it was would I have been interesting enough for selection and election. Blair appeared soon, Smith having deceased, and my greatest horror in a mealy-mouthed party boss ensured I never even vaguely thought about it again.

Yes, the political class is as you describe it. I was educated amongst some of them on the Fens. I have had many ways of potentially enriching myself over the years, both in pocket and self-esteem (getting a big head meant). I am not up for it, fortunately getting too old to consider it and in many ways some of the politicians I have known, across parties at that, have said that I tend to be too forthright (ehhhh?) and sometimes inform myself too well (again ehhh?) amongst other qualities that keep me out of politics. In fact, I think I am able to remain far more political by being outside it anyway, and hold people like DSK and the sainted JFK in absolute contempt for what they have done to the public face of politicians, yet would any of the Palmerstons and their ilk in the British past serve us any better? I have sincere doubts.

I think that the people who would benefit our countries as part of government are put off by "party" politics.

True Independents who have lived a life, have experience and something to offer other than being brought up by the party machine don't stand a chance, neither would they flourish under the present system.

Unless there is sufficient State funding for those wishing to stand for election, we shall continue in the same old way, the right funded by big business and the left by trades unions, neither of whom represent the true majority of the electorate.

I find all this testerone talk typical of what is wrong with our present world. Too many men in charge!!!

One of my greatest dislikes revolves around the idea of the political class, wherever they may be, being a self fulfilling and self re-producing corpus redefining their opinions on a whim to ensure their own survival and reward, the most important aims. Many years ago I thought I was going to become a politician, and was invited to be one, but events (dear boy) dictated otherwise. I certainly wouldn't have survived prurient examination (my friends and some others will confirm) but would I have made a good politician? Stones/glasshouses! One friend's personal life was opened up for all and sundry "Chelsea Photographer's Sex Demands on Convent Educated Girl" but that was all trash and he is one of the nicest, kindest people you could ever meet (with apologies to the gentlemen (sic) of the press). One physically (but not intellectually) powerful senior MP told my then wife that he would ensure her "annihilation" should our knowledge of his then "private" become public knowledge. Did we become his accomplices? Are accomplices just as guilty? Answers on a postcard please.....and I'm not naming names.