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April 16, 2006

The way politics should be conducted…?

From AP:

A French MP ended a six-week hunger strike yesterday after a Japanese company promised not to close a factory in his district. Jean Lassalle, who has lost 46lbs (21kg) in the protest, was taken to hospital as the government went into talks with the Japanese company Toyal. Mr Lassalle, 50, started his hunger strike on March 7 to press Toyal to keep its factory, which makes a product used in car paint, in the town of Accous. The company reached an agreement yesterday during talks with the interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, saying it would develop the site in Accous, the ministry said.

Firstly, what a brilliant story. I can't tell how big a news story this has been in France, but I suspect if something similar happened over here (I'm thinking George Galloway's a likely candidate) the media coverage would be huge.

Secondly, it's a shame that France's economic nationalism is taking hold even further. The country's politicians seem to be lining up more long-term pain for themselves, seemingly with the backing of much of the country's media and its people. How many successful (practically, not academically) economists has France produced?

Thirdly, if this was America the whole problem would be solved simply by the MP ensuring some tax-breaks for the company, and if it was the UK the MP would get the company to sponsor a school and return the favour with knighthoods and lordships.

Fourthly, a paint-product company? Wow, how many jobs are at stake because of a product used in car paint? I'd love to know.

And finally, should we be encouraging this kind of proactive politicking here in the UK? Should we demand to see the Clare Shorts and Boris Johnsons of this world going on hunger strike for the causes of Iraq and polygamy? I think it would make politics far more interesting. Imagine the hustings meetings before the general election:

Constituent: "Mr Sutton-Sloane, what have you done for the constituency of Badgerington in the last five years"

MP: "Well I've shaved my testicles for poor people, drunk rat urine for a cancer charity and abstained from sex for five years!"

Constituent: "What cause was the abstinence for?"

MP: "Ah that was simply because my loyal wife is over the hill!"

I know I'd vote!


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