There’s been a lot of tutting and rolling of eyes back across the channel in response to the wave of protests taking place on the continent, both for the austerity cuts and the raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62 in France.
This is because the British believe that protest makes no difference to the end result, as it often ignores the ‘hard economic realities’ of the situation. Christian Fraser of the BBC recently contributed to Radio 4’s “from our own correspondent” with a typically British view of the situation in France.
Yet flipping through the news on the very same website I stumbled across an article by Peter Cunliffe-Jones which argues that protest and pressure do lead to real change. The fact that the immediate net result is rarely tangible however is neither here nor there. Nigeria and Indonesia both won independence from their colonial masters at around the same time – yet today Indonesia is economically miles ahead of their African counterparts. The reason PCG supposes is down to the Indonesian people constantly putting pressure on their leaders to deliver change for the benefit of the people. This is a concept that the French also believe in vehemently and one that the British patently do not.
Speaking as someone who pays a frankly crippling proportion of their earnings into the state pension fund I find it insulting that the French leadership and many British commentators believe that two years is really no big deal.
The reality is – it is the thin end of the wedge, and the French people know if they let this one go without a fight – they will be steamrollered in the same way the apathetic British are every day of their lives.
It is the British who wake up today to find their country devoid of public services and national assets, with it’s health, transport, agriculture and education sectors on the verge of collapse, where most people have little to look forward to even after their retirement at 67 as the country’s pension crisis deepens thanks to serial incompetence on the part of successive governments!
Yet it is the British who believe that protesting and standing-up for your rights is in some way counter-productive!?!
Tut! (rolls eyes, shakes head)