Eric Besson, whose love affair with the Socialist party ended on Valentine’s day, is hitting back.
‘I won’t be voting for Segolene Royal,’ he said in his book ‘Who knows Madame Royal?’ according to extracts published in Le Monde. ‘Not in the first round, not in the second. Except, of course, if she is facing Jean-Marie Le Pen.’
Granted, his former job as the Socialists’ economics guru can’t have been easy. But the party had been his life since at least 1997 when he first won a seat in parliament, and he must be carrying a lot of hurt or disillusionment to slam the door so firmly shut. Two days before he quit the party, I went to a debate organised by Ifrap where he was defending Segolene’s economic program. He was tense, and referred at the outset to differences with the candidate. But he gritted his teeth, claiming the Socialists offered a better future for France than any of the their competitors. Only a few weeks later, he is claiming her campaign is ‘deceitful and dangerous’
He delivers a damning insiders’ guide. He refers to the ‘arbitrary’ way she pledges huge sums of taxpayers money – in this example renewable energies, a commitment she backs out of just as quickly. Without consultation or debate. And she certainly didn’t want to hear from Besson when he suggests her proposals were costing too much money.
Besson gave a press conference a week after he quit, and his strained face still haunts me. He was part of a campaign which he’d been gearing up to for the past five years. And suddenly he finds himself on the outside, looking in. He is imposing on the campaign in his own way, with the incredibly speedy production of a book (available March 20). But he has denied himself the rush and excitement of his team’s competition for the Elysee palace.
In a much less dramatic way, I have also found myself on the sidelines. For the past week I’ve been watching the campaign from the outside, ever since I switched out of the politics team. And already I’m missing it.