Editorial: “When France sets a 75% top income tax rate, we will roll out the red carpet, and we will welcome more French businesses,” recently announced British Prime Minister David Cameron. Et voila...a French reply.
PARIS - The English people, admirable in so many respects, sometimes beget insufferably arrogant and aristocratic characters. Case in point: David Cameron, Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, so smug and self-assured, who gives the economic liberalism he claims to represent a bad name.
Taunting France's new Socialist party government on its planned tax reform, Cameron announced that he would gladly roll out the red carpet for investors discouraged by the fiscal moves the government is about to make. Here stands a friendly government announcing, sarcastically or not, that it would be glad to undermine reforms that the French people have undeniably approved throughout four rounds of voting.
During the French Revolution, Great Britain was hostile to the new French Republic, welcoming and arming emigrants dedicated to toppling it. At the time, we were at war and London was playing its usual game, which was to weaken its neighbor across the Channel. Have we come back to a state of war, but an economic one this time?
My money, right or wrong
The French government very diplomatically attributed the Prime Minister's comments to British humor. Yet this is no joke: it reveals the cynical economic strategy of British conservatives. By transforming his country into a tax haven, Cameron is trying to attract all of those who have no civility whatsoever and who would gladly expatriate themselves if it meant saving a few million.
Thus the old English motto is amended with a neo-Tory twist: no longer "My country, right or wrong" but "My money, right or wrong," where the driving spirit of cash replaces that of the homeland. The already questionable doctrine of economic liberalism becomes the apology of financial selfishness, targeting the governments that have the strength to uphold collective values.
And is David Cameron really in a good position to lecture us? After two austerity budgets and a tax decrease for the wealthiest, the British economy is dipping back into recession. Under Cameron, the country's growth is emaciated. Unemployment is back to record levels, the debt is still enormous and the trade balance is still negative. Great Britain remains one of Europe's most non-egalitarian countries; and despite cruel sacrifices imposed on the population, so far there hasn't been any light at the end of the tunnel.
Cameron's policies are inspired by the dogmas applied in the City, the temple of speculation that has ruined all attempts to reform financial markets. Cameron, who is linked to financial and banking circles, as shown by his contemptuous one-liners, thinks that the British will be saved by their billionaires. It's the same old song…so let's agree to just ignore the yelping of the City's lapdog?
*Joffrin is the editor-in-chief of Le Nouvel Observateur
Read the original article in French, entitled "F--k Cameron"
Photo - World Economic Forum