Another Day that Wasn't Jacques'
PARIS, Wednesday, July 6 - Continentals are suckers for offshore propaganda. Both the Germans and the French believe in the British notion of 'fair play,' as if games are somehow morally superior to war, and the way the British play games is the most superior of all. But, sometimes, the Germans and the French suspect that the British may play a bit too hard, may be a bit ruthless, and that the game is not quite 'the thing' but winning is.
Of course thinking something like this after the British have won a decisive round may appear to be sour vin rouge, so the French would rather not say it. Today in Singapore some were instead hinting that continentals should begin taking lobbying lessons from the British. There were rumors of British lobbying continuing in Singapore after it was thought the deadline was passed, as if there are Olympic rules for these things, as there apparently are.
Many of the French who spoke on TV-news today remarked on the lobbying skills of British spokesman and former athlete Sebastian Coe, in particular. If anything Mr. Coe was given most of the credit for pulling the British bid together and getting it concentrated at the finish in Singapore. Much of the rest of the credit went to prime minister Tony Blair, who awed witnesses with his persuasive efforts.
According to reports the team leading the bid for Paris woke up Wednesday morning in Singapore firmly convinced that if butterflies prevented them from enjoying breakfast and lunch, they would have a fine celebration at dinner as the winners.
How wrong they were! From beginning to end there were four votes by the IOC selection committee, resulting in the successive eliminations of Moscow, Madrid and New York. On every vote Paris was second to London, especially the last. From being perceived favorite, Paris was in perpetual second place, from beginning to end.
It is just as well so many French have already gone on holidays, where I hope many were sitting down in comfort when they heard the news. Since the beginning of the year they voted against the European constitution, against the invasion of the Polish plumber, which unexpectedly returned Nicolas Sarkozy as dynamic minister of the interior. The French voted against various government 'reforms' with strikes and other demonstrations, with mixed success. That the Pentecôte holiday will be reinstated was one tiny win.
Having voted solidly against the EU's excessive 'liberalism,' it was just as well to get out of town as Tony Blair took over the EU presidency, while pushing the policy notion that Europe can't afford its farmers and should do something else positive with the agricultural subsidy.
Tony Blair seems to be as unaware as Jacques Chirac that there are farmers in Britain too, getting the subsidies. Last Friday, as a joke to Gerhard Schröder and Vladimir Putin, overheard by a nosy reporter for Libération, Jacques Chirac said that Britain's only contribution to European food was 'mad cow disease.'
For some unknown reason Chirac added that the only country where food was worse is Finland. None of this was supposed to be heard, but of course there it was - making the rounds in Singapore, with Finland having two voting members on the IOC selection committee.
Jacques Chirac was up in the air flying towards the G8 meeting in Scotland when the result of the IOC's vote became known. From the jet he congratulated London for capturing the honor of staging the games.
When he arrives at Gleneagles in Scotland he can expect to receive a surprise hamper from Percy's Country Hotel & Restaurant based in Devon, containing a copious sampling of 'home reared, organic lamb and pork, delicious gold award winning tarts and fantastic Westcountry cheddar cheese' - as described in the email jointly sent by Percy's
and the Western Morning News
Bon appétit, Jacques!