The French Revolution was a defining period in the social history of France. Totally fed up with a ruling class that lived in ridiculous splendour whilst ignoring the plight of common people – ‘Let them eat cake‘ , the masses rose up and took drastic action.
‘Madame Guillotine’ was kept very busy, not just in Paris, but eventually all over France.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité became not just the mantra, but the ambition of the new republic.
Much has happened in France since then: battles have been won and lost, wars have been fought with neighbours and France has been occupied under Nazi rule.
As with all modern nations, there are still the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’, the wealthy and the poor. There is still a class structure based on education and social background.
However, the French have tremendous nationalistic pride – in the positive sense. They mainly holiday in their own country, mainly drive French cars and revel in their own wines and food. They regard their government as an institution that is there to help them and, basically, to carry out their needs.
When that government does something that they don’t like, they say so and, if not listened to, go out on the streets and protest. Their government then has to listen and compromise. Hence the ‘Gilets Jaunes’.
Unfortunately this is not the case in the UK today.
Our government has restricted protest and has to be dragged screaming and shouting to negotiate with strikers with legitimate claims. They constantly implement policies and budgets that favour the well-off and punish the common person. They allow food companies to produce products that lead to obesity, especially amongst poorer people.
They are funded by folk who do not have the interests of the population at heart, but rather use them as a vehicle to increase their own wealth.
In the interests of a few, they have allowed the right wing press , through lies and innuendo, to bring about the greatest act of self-harm of any nation since WWII: Brexit.
We have fewer hospital beds, fewer doctors and nurses per head of population than any other major country. We have the worst pollution of our rivers and beaches than any other European country and yet we seem to sit back and accept it!
I am not saying that we should have a revolution.
However, tons of rotting vegetables not picked early enough could be dumped outside the House of Commons together with manure from farms suffering because of Brexit. Same with fish. Gatherings of 100, 000 disgruntled voters could appear in London regularly. If even 25 per cent of voters wrote to their Tory MP every week something may happen.
We have the chance on May 5 to send a clear message. They will probably not listen, but…
Why can’t we be more like the French?