Friday, 20 March 2009

Entente Not So Cordiale

It seems that Phil Woolas has put his foot in in/run off at the mouth/jumped the gun/got hold of the wrong end of the stick/spilt the beans/made a fopar/made a faux pas* yet again when he announced the 'plans' for the building of a internment camp for migrants in the Calais area. (see Wednesday's post)

In response to his pronouncements, there have been what can only be politely labelled as mixed signals coming from France. These range from a rather strange version of 'No Comment' from Eric Besson, where he denied that they were plans to build a new Sangatte(!), to an out right "Not in my backyard" by an unnamed French official.

It seems that, despite courting publicity in the first days after his appointment (see 28 January post), Besson now wants to avoid being associated with the controversy that Woolas' comments have sparked in France.

Of course some of this new reticence may be linked to the publicity surrounding Besson's reaction to the release of Philippe Lioret's film 'Welcome', which makes a direct comparison between the ordeal experienced by many migrants in France and the plight of Jews in Nazi-occupied France during the Second World War. Besson claimed that Lioret has "crossed a red line" using such a comparison, which he claimed was used only in an effort to generate publicity for the film. However the French public don't seem to see it that way, and the film itself has sparked a country-wide debate over the fate of the Calais migrants, as well as being a box-office hit.

*delete as non-applicable.

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