27 AUGUST 1948, Page 1

France Slipping Again

No conceivable Government can save France from disaster so long as farmers, factory workers and party tacticians behave as they have been behaving in the past week. M. Marie's Government had

made a reasonably good start. It had agreed upon a realistic policy of economic reform and stabilisation and secured the powers to go ahead with it. The final shamefaced decision to postpone the departmental elections, which were due to take place in October, has left the Government's own political reputation substantially in- tact, since it is led by Radicals, and the Radicals would have stood to gain if the elections had been held at the proper time. But the Prime Minister cannot escape all share of blame for allowing the Socialists, M.R.P. and Communists to get away with a manoeuvre which, even in the context of French politics, is thoroughly dis- graceful. It is useless for these parties to claim that they acted in the interests of the Republic, in that General de Gaulle was bound to score a success at the elections. The parties acted in their own sectional interests, and no hypocritical talk can disguise that fact. Nor can the major economic powers in France be said to be giving a shining example to their political leaders. Cattle farmers, in cling- ing to their stock and sending up the price of meat, are demonstrating once more that there is no length to which they will not go to maintain their own prosperity at the expense of town- dwellers. M. Reynaud's policy of building up the strength of French agriculture is sensible enough, but it will not succeed so long as French farmers persist in accepting any aid from the Government as a mere bribe. Again, the trade unions (including the non- Communist Force Ouvriere) are once again falling into the Com- munist trap and claiming wage increases which can only lead to uncontrolled inflation. Some day ordinary Frenchmen will grasp the fact that neither American aid nor political evasions can give them solid prosperity, but they do not seem to have grasped it yet.