Gilets Jaunes reader letters

241

Many of you reacted when we published a reader’s comment last week.

France? A civilised country where the forces of law and order can be relied on to make their citizens feel safe? And there was I thinking that torching cars should be an imprisonable offence. Will the French ever accept that they are still living in a Third World country and that change is an inevitable part of progress? God help Macron. Will he go the way of all previous Presidents who have failed to bring the country into the modern world? Determination and honest intentions have never proven enough. I can think of no other country in Western civilisation where groups of ‘protesters’ can by-pass the law of the land with such impunity. What happened to the arsonists who razed the tax office to the ground? Were they identified and prosecuted/imprisoned? This would be a joke if it wasn’t so serious.

The French should ‘get real’ but they don’t because they’re allowed to get away with their extreme behaviour. Change? About as likely as a politician’s honest travel expenses claim.

For your interest and amusement, here are some letters we received afterwards. We have kept them all anonymous, as some of you were keen not to have your names published.

* * *

“I found your editorial comments after the article about the chaos on motorways in Occitanie proof of your stubborn Englishness. Let the French live and do as they seem best, and if you’re not happy, England is back there waiting for you.” 

* * *

“I couldn’t agree more.  The gilets jaunes are nothing but thugs who like to disrupt.  Peaceful protest is the way.”

* * * 

“The editorialising (December 4) does not have a place in the Languedoc Living publication. I subscribe to Languedoc Living for news, not the cynical opinions of someone who considers France a “third world country”. Perhaps he reflects the views of some of your readers, but not this one. Merci beaucoup for your publication, otherwise. I appreciate it very much.” 

* * *

“ I detest the yellow jacket protests and liked your coverage. The fuel duty would affect us more than most people as we run a restaurant and drive very long distances every year but I respect the governments right to set taxes as they see fit and proper. There will always be morons who expect to receive services without having to pay tax to fund them.”

* * *

“You could have paused, thought a bit more about it all, and then used your editorial discretion and not published that silly and rather uninformed “third world” comment from one of your readers. Most importantly, you should not have agreed with his/her comments. I am from an English speaking country and well aware that while I love France and live here permanently, I have no right to publicly condemn or condone such actions in France. I, and I dare say you, are visitors in a country we love. I am reasonably confident that many of your readers, both English and French found the article and your opinion offensive. Further, you comment in today’s paper did not go far enough – you should apologise for it all.”

* * * 

“I am a privileged guest, and the yellow vest issue aside, often say to our French friends with a note of sympathy, ‘I understand’ and leave it at that. Just me, my old age and my inbred ‘when in Rome…’ thing.”

* * *

“Yes, the reader is presumably living in the region, enjoying the infrastructures financed by the French, the health service obtained by French activism, the hospitality of the generous locals and a frack-free region thanks to French activism. So, all that I, a long-time resident here, can say to this person is: ‘If you are not satisfied with what is offered, GO HOME!’”

* * *

“I’m following (and sympathize with) your editorial comments on the gilets jaunes issue. Here’s an idea for Macron: In BC the provincial government introduced a carbon tax on fossil fuel emissions and returned the money raised to the people in tax cuts. ” 

* * *

“As for the reader’s rant, if he finds the French political environment so disappointing (to put it mildly), why is he here? Personally, I find this third world country quite welcoming, and the fact that the French (including notably Mums and wives, as well as OAPs) are prepared to get off their a***s and actually do something, instead of sitting in front of the tele and moaning like the Brits, is one of the attractions of living here…No, I don’t agree with the riots and damage last Saturday, whether in Paris or elsewhere, but from my day-long viewing of the TV reporting, it was not the ordinary French man/woman doing the wrecking, but opportunistic casseurs, and most commentators seemed to agree that these were from the two political extremes.”

* * *

“Setting aside the violence, committed by a few, French people are protesting about the raising of taxes on low incomes, downgrading of benefits while taxes on the wealthy and land have been reduced. The history of France’s debt, is well documented. The unwillingness of governments both left & right to make small changes in earlier, better years has led to this. To load tax, reduce benefits from the bottom half, is unlikely to improve the economy. These people spend locally and are not into tax havens and luxury properties. People are protesting against grinding austerity whether in work or not.

“What amazes me most is that in Britain, there have not been more protests against policies which deprive the poorest, over 60% of benefits and Foodbank claimants are in work but are not paid enough to cover basic bills. While Amazon, Starbucks, Boots, Facebook etc makes billions untaxed from our taxed incomes. We should be much more concerned about rising inequality, budget cuts while large corporates & the wealthy pay little or no tax, yet rely on the state to fund the education & health services of their impoverished workers. 

“We feel very fortunate to have worked, saved, accrued pensions – the choice to live in France or elsewhere. Many will not have that freedom.”

* * *

“Just thought your readers might like to know of the latest twist on the ‘yellow vest’ presence at roundabouts, etc. Motorist near St Chinian have discovered that rogue ‘yellow vests’ are stopping vehicles to ask drivers for money. Not quite highway robbery more a pre-Christmas fund raiser! Be warned.”

* * *

“We have many French friends who feel as frustrated as us. If one sacrifice of these continuing protests is a loss of income for ordinary hard-working people, then it surely cannot be justified. And what now? With staggering predictability, the farmers now feel ‘put on’ and, yet again, will attempt to hold the government to ransom. And again, there are predictable signs that the government is already beginning to cave in, like previous administrations. It’s called history. “

* * *

[For the record, our view is that first of all it’s great to have debate, and clearly not everyone sees eye to eye on this subject. Freedom to protest is of course a good thing, but why do it in such a way that it affects the very people who stand to lose the most?  Low-waged employees have been directly affected by the gilets jaunes due to work drying up in shops, no petrol, the public not daring to leave their houses etc.
As for the comments about going home if you don’t agree… Most of us are home. Most of us adore France, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have the right to disagree with some policies or actions.

Please keep the comments coming. Debate is good for us all!  Ed]