Richard North, 05/03/2005  

Courtesy of L'Ombre de l'Olivier Blog comes an illuminating insight into the way the French referendum campaign is being played.

The Blog illustrates a startling left-wing campaign poster which links the anti-constitution sentiment with an anti-Chirac message. It suggests that, unlike other countries where opposition to the constitution stems predominantly from the right wing, in France it is the Left which is fronting the opposition.

It is this that allows the likes of MacShane and Straw to claim that the constitution is a British "victory", on the basis that the French Left believes that the EU has sold out to the "evil capitalists".

It has done nothing of the kind, of course. The EU agenda is neither left nor right. Its single aim is political integration, on any terms. But what the French socialist object to is that the constitution has not gone far enough in their direction.

That the British government claims this as a "victory" is typical of their post-negotiation stances – whatever government is in power. Having promised all sorts of "red lines" it comes away with a position which is worse than what they wanted, but not as bad as it could have been (until the next time), whence the "victory" is declared.

Thus, the essential difference between the British and the French oppositions is that the Brits are against it because it has gone too far while the French feel it has not gone far enough.

There is actually no common ground between the various "anti" camps and neither does the fact that one is against it give any credence to the claim (oft made by the British government) that the other should be for it.

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