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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Hervé Morin's historic error - a trip back in time

Fancy a spot of time travel? Then French presidential candidate Hervé Morin seems more than willing to oblige.

Hervé Morin (screenshot from announcement of candidature video)

Morin isn't making life easy for himself.

His campaign launch squeaked into gear last November much to the annoyance of the ruling centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) which has been urging the leader of the smaller centre-right Nouveau Centre (NC) to put aside any stately ambitions he might have and throw his weight his behind the current president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Morin, who served as Sarkozy's - sorry that should of course read prime minister François Fillon as he's supposed to be the head of the government - defence minister from May 2007 until November 2010, was having none of it though and has so far doggedly stuck to his proverbial guns (ooh a bit of a pun there).

Not that it seems to be doing him much good as his poll ratings rarely climb above one (that really need to be spellt out) percent, as impersonator Nicolas Canteloup is of so fond of reminding listeners to his radio slot in the mornings on Europe 1 and viewers to his TV sketch in the evenings.

Then there's the case of François Bayrou - who used to be a buddy of Morin when both were members of the (not quite, but to all intents and purposes now defunct or at least on paper) centre-right Union pour la Démocratie Française (UDF).

Are you following? This is French politics where allegiances are built on the shiftiest of sands.

Morin supported Bayrou when the latter became the so-called Third Man in the 2007 presidential race, but the two men fell out shortly afterwards with Morin joining the government and Bayrou setting up a new centre party Mouvement démocrate or MoDem.

In stark contrast to Morin, Bayrou's announcement of his candidature in December was judged by most political pundits as a success in terms of pushing him up the polls and into double figures. Bayrou was on a roll and for some still is, faring better than he did at the same stage last time around.

Not content with being an also also-ran (will he last the course and is anyone really bothered?) Morin has now made a complete fool of himself and provided everyone with a classic bit of political nonsense.

It happened at a meeting last weekend in the southern French city of Nice with Morin coming over all emotional as he recalled the Allied landings on the Normandy coast in 1944.

Only during his speech the 50-year-old (important bit of information that) managed an HG Wells kind of moment as he literally travelled back in time to give the impression that he had been present when the Allies landed.

"You, some among you, with grey hair, witnessed the storming of the Provence beach," he said.

"I saw the landing of allied troops in Normandy," he continued without hesitating at the absurdity of his statement.

Morin was born in 1961.

Journalists, humorists and of course Internauts were quick to pick up on the mistake and Twitter was abuzz with moments from the past at which Morin could claim to have been impossibly present.


But at least Morin had the guts to face up to his mistake (did he have any other choice?) by Tweeting his own "Congratulations on your humour" and saying that "The French were full of creativity."


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the UMP and Sarkozy are afraid of Morin being a candidate for the presidential election. He's a nobody, a never has been, and less than 1% of the voting population intend to vote for him. What is there to be scared of? At least with his "back to the future" slip of the tongue, he's created some buzz. But I'm not sure it will attract more voters!

France Today said...

It's probably the perceived fracturing of the centre-right that the UMP fears most.

Elections are usually won or lost with so-called floating voters switching allegiances and, while there's never really been a Centrist party that has done well at the polls, Morin's Nouveau Centre possibly represents a section of potential UMP voters that cannot afford to be lost.

Don't forget that Bayrou is in the race - and he's also likely to attract some potential UMP voters. And there's Dominique de Villepin too - if he stays the course.

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