|How's that for winsome?|
She has now joined in the battle to return her erstwhile boss to the Elysée Palace for another five-year term. Recently the government launched a ‘Marshall Plan’ for the impoverished suburbs of France; the frontrunner to replace Sarkozy, the Socialist François Hollande, chose his words badly when he denounced the plan, suggesting that jobs and financial support were needed, not a reference to a ‘Marshall’ of whom the likely recipients of any aid would probably never have heard.
It might have been wiser of him not to appear to cast doubt on how much knowledge of history the people he was defending were likely to have. It does sound a little patronising from a member of France’s most highly-educated classes, someone who may be in the Socialist Party but is also a member of the nation’s elite.
Dati has waded into the fray denouncing Hollande for underestimating the education of the underprivilieged. ‘They go to school, Mr Hollande!’ she declaimed, ‘they follow the same history syllabus as your children, thank you very much.’ Clearly, she felt, no-one needed to be told who Marshall was.
Well, she may be right, but I did enjoy the fact that Agence France Presse, in its report on the spat, added a final paragraph: ‘The expression ‘Marshall Plan’ has been part of the political vocabulary for some years now. It refers to the plan put forward in 1947 by the American General George Marshall to provide economic assistance to European nations after the Second World War.’
And it wasn't just for the benefit of the underprivileged inhabitants of the tough suburbs that they wrote those words.