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Rigging the debate

Posted by Richard Thursday, April 14, 2005

Rather as the fragrant Margot Wallström - whose Blog mysteriously went AWOL for nearly two days – is reluctant to engage with the public on anything like equal terms, so it seems are both Blair and l’escroc Chirac, a trait they seem to share with the rest of the political élites of Europe.

Blair's latest tactic is to repeat the hoary lie in his manifesto that the EU constitution gives more powers to national parliaments, a claim that has been so comprehensively debunked that you really do wonder at his nerve in repeating it.

But, when it comes to bare-faced cheek, l’escroc, as always, must take the accolade. With the eleventh consecutive poll showing a commanding lead for the “no” campaign in the French EU referendum the latest indicating a 53 percent majority - Chirac is, according to The Daily Telegraph returning to the fray tonight, in a televised "debate" on the private TF1 channel.

But, rather than confront his critics in a genuine debate, l’escroc has opted for a live studio appearance with 80 carefully selected "young people", as his way of counter the forces of dissent.

And, already, the tactic seems to be backfiring on him. Questions are being asked about the participants in the broadcast, and about the role of the president's daughter, Claude, who leads his communications team, in its planning. Opponents have seized on the absence of any champion of the No cause. Journalists from other stations unsuccessfully asked France's broadcasting watchdog, the CSA, to intervene, condemning a "confusion of information with entertainment".

Thus, the president's approach has been described as "nervous", leaving the field to the "no" campaign, described graphically by another piece in The Telegraph, where speakers against the constitution seem to be having no difficulty holding audiences spellbound.

But then, when you are selling snake oil, all that is left to you is to rig the debate.