Image by blogcpolitic via FlickrNow, several tax inspectors and prefects would be sleeping more easily in their offices if Carla Bruni had not accepted a bit part in a film directed by Woody Allen - what does she see in vertically challenged men, I wonder? - which seems to consist of buying a loaf of bread and getting it wrong thirty four times.
Why should this affect tax inspectors and prefects?
Because as his wife is filming in Paris, President Sarkozy has not yet been able to go on holiday, which means that the normal somnolence of July...those not already on holiday preparing to go on holiday...has been disturbed by the Scourge of God's reaction to attacks on the police, following police attacks on the population, and to the perceived lawlessness of 'travelling people'.
Carla's consort has announced a crackdown....on foreigners.
Having tried and failed to knock out the right wing Front National with his ill fated debate on the nature of French identity, it seems he is having a second shot at the coconut following the violent reaction in Grenoble and in the Cher to the shooting of supposed malefactors by the forces of lawless order.
Let it not be supposed that the President is prejudiced against foreigners....no, indeed not. He started by sacking the prefect responsible for the Grenoble area, who was certainly not a foreigner, but, having thrown that sop to the idea of equality, he has turned his attention to scapegoats likely to be popular with the population whose votes he will be seeking in 2012.
French citizens of non-French origin will lose their French citizenship if found guilty of life threatening attacks on the police.
That'll learn 'em.
Except that as the Conseil Constitutionnel has just declared the current 'garde a vue' - explained here - process contrary to France's engagements under the European Convention on Human Rights the police will have quite a job 'persuading' foreign-born 'suspects' to 'help them with their enquiries' under whatever new regime is cobbled together, so it will be a race between getting the loss of citizenship legislation through and the introduction of something more compliant with human rights legislation which has to be done within twelve months.
Oh, and encampments of 'travelling people' already declared to be illegal will be closed down, while Roumanian and Bulgarian 'travelling people' will be expelled if found guilty of public order offences.
And while he's at it, a close eye will be applied to the situation of illegal immigrants in receipt of benefits. France is not obliged to welcome the misery of the whole world....to quote a previous Socialist minister...
Well, that should sort it all out, shouldn't it?
The descendants of the French who sold Joan of Arc to the British should be able to go off on their holidays secure in the knowledge that the Mighty Mekon has things under control.
So why are prefects and taxmen shivering in their shoes?
Because the President has announced that he expects to see prefects - Paris's men in the provinces who see what local government is up to and tell it to stop it - to show more energy.
Prefects should be out and about with the police, patrolling dubious areas in the hours of darkness, and if they don't they'll get the sack.
Now it is not unknown for a prefect to be sacked...or put into a cupboard in Limoges...but until Sarkozy came to power it was for understandable things, like enforcing irrigation bans against the wishes of local farmers.
SS - since Sarkozy - prefects have found that they can be sacked for other things...like not sorting out a septic tank problem for his mother in law, or letting demonstrators get within spitting distance of their master...but getting sacked for not putting themselves in danger is something else.
Because any attempt to visit an encampment of 'travelling people' is pretty guaranteed to be dangerous, which is why encampments declared to be illegal are still there, a blight on the areas surrounding them.
'Travelling people' whether French or foreign, have a certain view of life....and it doesn't include being disturbed by policemen looking for other peoples' property.
Thus the encampments are regarded - by policemen - as being no place for a policeman, although people living in their immediate area tend to think that they should be surrounded by policemen, twenty four hours a day, every day, to give people some relief from theft and intimidation and it seems that government has finally come down on the side of widely held opinion....that these 'no-go' areas have to be sorted out.
Well, that explains the unhappiness of prefects, but what has worried the tax inspectors?
Sarkozy's sidekick, Brice Hortefeux, the Minister of the Interior who boasts the remarkable distinction of having been fined 750 Euros for making racist remarks without copping a criminal record, has finally noticed something which has been apparent to anyone travelling the roads of France.
'Travelling people' do their travelling in spanking new, enormous caravans drawn by spanking new enormous four wheel drive vehicles.
Non travelling people, watching these convoys pass unchallenged by the gendarmerie who are busy checking the papers of a couple of local pensioners, have a pretty good idea how much these cars and caravans cost and suspect that the purchasing power which enables 'travelling people' to buy these toys is not reflected in what is declared on their tax returns.
Thus the terror of the tax inspectors.
Unless they are saved by the intervention of the their boss, the Finance Minister, they are going to be sent into encampments to enquire into the sources of the revenues of the occupants...and while I might be at a loss to know which line of a tax return covers 'proceeds of sale of stolen property', a tax inspector should fnd it child's play.
If he survives the reaction of the unhappy 'travelling person' that is.
Given that the warden of an official local site was chased through the camp by a 'travelling person' with a chainsaw, the tax inspectors have some reason to be worried and I doubt that these worries will be assuaged by the idea that the prefect will be running for his life alongside them.
What can save them?
Only an immediate improvement in the standard of acting of Carla Bruni, which will allow Woody Allen to wrap his film so that her husband can take her away to the sanctuary of the septic tankless family home in the south of France while all this hot air blows away.