The old line de mortuis nil nisi bonum has been joined, these days, by a convention that vanquished politicians respect the verdict of the electorate and mumble something nice about the victor while wishing them all the best and so on. Happily they do things differently in France. Segolene Royal has a new book out and it's fair to say that she's still miffed, and surprised, that she was defeated by Nicolas Sarkozy. Which, while distressing for Madame Royal, is good news for the rest of us. Here's her appraisal of Sarko:
What bothers me most about him is his immorality. ..He does not hide his greed, his bulimia for money, for sensuality and pleasure. He has a form of extreme cynicism, like a teenager who wants to dazzle the entire planet.
He has the talent of of a liar. ... If it had been an American campaign, everything would have come out, all his lack of morality...Sarkozy is an immense lie, an impostor.
When Sarkozy received me at the Elysée Palace just after the defeat, I found him quite mediocre in his behaviour. There was no hauteur, élan or fair play. ... He just stood there, shuffling around, offering me chocolates, trying to get me to talk about my separation from François Hollande (her former partner and party leader), trashing journalists, showing off his watch and telling me that he could have been making loads of cash if he had another job.
He is a lot more dull that you would think. His energy is impressive but it's all showing off. .. He is a little boy thrilled with his new toys. With his little sheriff's star and his plastic gun, his cowboy outfit, he is the kid who won the prize on the merry-go-round. Actually, much of this seems faintly familiar: isn't it how Gordon Brown felt about Tony Blair?