petite anglaise

December 17, 2004

blind indifference

Filed under: missing blighty — petiteanglaiseparis @ 11:19 am

If I tell you that prior to reading an article in Libération this morning, I had not realised David Blunkett was actually blind, would you believe me?

I had seen references to guide dogs in other blogs and just assumed that they were figurative. Clearly I will not be re-inventing myself as ‘petite pundit’ any time soon.

What I think this illustrates, apart from my own ignorance, is that after almost a decade of living outside the motherland, I feel increasingly detached from certain aspects of British life. I read the Guardian when I have time, but most articles about UK domestic politics leave me indifferent. I do still vote in UK elections, or rather my mother does on my behalf, but clearly I am not directly affected by laws being passed, so it’s getting increasingly difficult for me to get worked up about British politics.

Ironically, unless I persuade the Frog to marry me (no change on that front) and apply for French nationality, I am unlikely to ever be able to vote in France, where Tadpole will be educated and where I have been paying taxes ever since I got my first ‘proper’ job. As an EU citizen I can (and probably should) vote in European Parliament elections. For what it’s worth. I could theoretically also vote in French municipal elections, and actually do something about Parisian problems like fouling pooches rather than just ranting about them on this blog. But in France to get on the electoral roll for the following year, you have to get yourself down to the town hall with a pile of paperwork, on a weekday, before 31 December. I have never managed to get round to this. Largely because I cannot afford to waste one of my precious days off on a close encounter of the third kind with a French fonctionnaire.

I must confess that I read the article about Blunkett today in the metro because it was entitled ‘Love Affaire’. Nothing like the prospect of a good scandal to hold my attention. As usual, the French journalist marvelled at the fact that English politicians frequently resign over seemingly minor scandals about their personal lives or isolated instances of alleged corruption, which wouldn’t cause anyone on this side of the Channel to bat an eyelid.

“Une pure comédie ‘people’ comme seule la Grande-Bretagne sait en concocter. Un drame personnel qui s’est transformé en affaire d’Etat, au nom de trois ou quatres fautes de conduite qui ne feraient pas une brève en France.”

The journalist goes on to say that in France for a politician to be accused of corruption he would need to have gone on numerous luxury holidays paid in cash and have several fictitious employees on his payroll.

Which tells me everything I need to know about where my hard earned taxes are going.


  1. I feel the same. Not really that bothered about voting in France, but boy do I feel strongly about what’s going on in la perfide Albion! I find it very unfair that despite contributing to the economy and general life of our chosen country, we expats don’t get to have a say in its policital life.

    Comment by céline — December 17, 2004 @ 12:43 pm

  2. I think it’s appalling that you can’t vote. Is marriage the only solution? It’s all so wrong…


    Comment by witho — December 17, 2004 @ 1:33 pm

  3. If it’s of any interest to you, you can get BBC TV for free (well, nearly, you do need a satellite dish).

    I never watch French television, so I know what Blunkett looks like, but not the new “Ministre de l’économie” !

    Comment by Jenny — December 17, 2004 @ 1:52 pm

  4. There’s an election next year in the Fatherland btw. In terms of securing the popular vote, the main contenders appear to be Bruce Forsyth and Simon Cowell. Don’t worry p a, I’ll keep you in touch.

    Comment by backroads — December 17, 2004 @ 2:02 pm

  5. I cannot vote here, in Quebec, till I’m married, in fact, I’m sort of a non-person at the moment, which is always weird. Landed immigrant or not. I still don’t feel like I belong. Meanwhile, it seems to be the norm here for Politicians to fall out the closet and be found to have taken bribes, free holidays, done special favours and the like. I’m beginning to think it’s a requirement. ;-)

    Comment by Rocketdog — December 17, 2004 @ 5:10 pm

  6. Well, yes, glad someone else can’t face the paperwork involved in making oneself legitimate across the channel; (a much bigger channel in my case. What you are saying rings many bells.) I can’t even face taking Spanish residency which makes life easier and cheaper in many respects. And would allow me to vote in local elections which are much more significant in a Canarian outpost than national Spanish ones are. We’ve been just trying to register a change of car, merely! (Identity documents, long waits in Traffico. God knows what else.) I can’t even own a car not being officially a resident. And I thought England was bureaucratic!

    Comment by grannyp — December 17, 2004 @ 7:38 pm

  7. I sympathise. After twelve years in the UK I can only vote in local and European elections (in which referendum on the EU constitution will I vote, French or British?). French expats have no representation in parliament, but I did have the (dubious) privilege of giving my support to Mr Chirac a couple of years ago!

    Are you not allowed to apply for nationality either because you have been resident long enough or because your child is French, even if you are not married? (I can in the UK, and soon will, when I have time…).

    Comment by François — December 17, 2004 @ 7:38 pm

  8. I have been resident in the Republic of Ireland for 14 years, and likewise can vote only for the EU parliamentary and local elections; also I can’t vote for referenda if they involve constitutional changes.
    Irish citizenship is a big bureaucratic hassle and expensive to boot.
    I would like to vote in UK elections, but don’t have a clue how I could, having not voted for nearly 30 years. Any ideas, anyone?

    Comment by Ruth — December 17, 2004 @ 10:54 pm

  9. Beeing myself a Russian married to a French, I know a few things about the problem. I am quite sure you can apply for the french citizenship if you have been living in France for 10 years, plus having a child from a French father thus potentially French herself. I also think you are more likely to get it quicker this way, rather then getting married to Mr.Frog, because in that case you probably will be bound to wait 2 years before simply being allowed to apply and then, the formality itselft will be taking about a year. Anyway you can got the full information in your mairie :)

    Bonne chance and thank you for your wonderful blog which I have been enjoing for a little while !

    Comment by Katia — December 18, 2004 @ 12:55 pm

  10. I still vote in the UK – the gesture already seemed futile when I still there, voting Labour in a safe Conservative constituency, and seems ever more so with each passing year. Still, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, I feel this old-fashioned obligation to do my “civic duty”.
    I’ve been living in Switzerland for seven of the last nine years, but left in the middle, so my qualification status by length of residence went back to zero. This time I’m staying for the duration, and I reckon it’ll take the seven remaining years I have to serve to understand the political system here. At least if I were living just across the border in France I would know more or less who to vote for. Comparing France and the UK on the one hand and Switzerland on the other, it seems you have to choose between a clear two or three party system in which the value of your individual vote is debatable, or a cheerful democracy like this, where your vote clearly counts but you virtually have to be a professional politician to understand what you’re voting about.:roll:

    Comment by Waterhot — December 18, 2004 @ 8:42 pm

  11. oh my god… that’s too crazy. Isn’t there a way just living in the country long enough gives you the right to French nationality?

    btw, I know only too well your mad fear of fonctionnaires. Everytime I have to renew my legal papers, I get into a cold sweat and my blood pressure goes through the roof. Paperwork and bureaucracy, which I’ve blogged about before, are scary scary scary scary scary scary scary INEFFICIENT in France. We’re talking Kafka-esque.

    Comment by nardac — December 19, 2004 @ 3:43 am

  12. Petite…speaking as an official of the EP, I can reliably inform you that it IS worth availing yourself of the right to vote. As an institution its powers have been gradually enhanced over the decades and the Constitutional Treaty will address many (although not all) of the outstanding imbalances. Sooner or later the national media throughout Europe will wake up to the fact that the legislation passed there affects all our lives on a day to day basis (instead of concentrating on a handful of colourful characters who skulk around in its lobbies, such as Kilroy-Silk), that the Council and the Commission are not the only players.

    Comment by Chameleon — December 19, 2004 @ 5:42 pm

  13. chameleon: I know, I should, I’ll try, I promise…

    on the French nationality issue, a certain length of residency does give you the right to request naturalisation.. but I think I’d have to relinquish my British nationality. Which I’m not sure I’m ready to do. That may also be the case if we marry.

    If anyone really knows their stuff and can explain my options I’d be very grateful.

    Comment by petite — December 19, 2004 @ 9:07 pm

  14. Petite Anglaise,

    I am not an expert but ou can find quite a bit on the internet:

    – The Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres has quite a good (simple!) page on the subject (

    – Also, (, where French officialdom makes an effort to communicate using normal words!

    Re. your British nationality, the quickest way to make sure is probably for you to call the British consulate in Paris and ask them (I don’t think you would lose it but I am not an expert).

    Good luck.


    Comment by François — December 20, 2004 @ 10:48 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: