UK Politics

PY Gerbeau on Daily Politics Soapbox: Don't be like the French

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Media captionPY Gerbeau warns Brits of French industrial action

Each week, the Daily Politics offers a platform to a famous person to make a film with their personal views on a subject, before debating them in the studio. French businessman Pierre-Yves Gerbeau, also known as PY, helped make the Millennium Dome what it was. Here he offers a French view on the UK's wave of industrial action.

For decades, France has had a strike almost on a daily basis, which not only paralyses the country but makes it impossible to run any business.

That means there is constant interference on how one can run a business, and where the general population has to endure trade unions.

They have virtually no representation in the workforce any more, but draw their strength solely because they are a big part of constitutional law in France.

The UK for me has always been a symbol of a strong economic model, where an entrepreneur can succeed, and where trade unions are a safeguard - but can also be helpful and not solely destructive as they are in France.

So with Brussels' constant threat to bring more red tape to these shores and with the UK now slowly drifting towards the failed French economic model, there is a massive reason to be very worried.

Last week London saw mass protests, which potentially are the tip of the iceberg as the UK's austerity cuts kick in.

As a business leader, I seriously question what impact this will have on doing business with "UK plc" at a time when we need to be focused on getting ourselves out of the recession, to protect and create jobs, and get the country back on the front foot.

I am an adopted "le rosbif" ("roast beef" is French slang for the English). I married the enemy and captained the GB inline hockey team to a silver medal in the veterans' world cup, so I should be adopted.

The last thing I want is to be taken hostage by civil servants, who as they did in France, are only realising what the private sector employees have known for a few years, but without taking the general public hostage and stopping them going to work, or running a normal life.

Last week in London we had a capital at a standstill with a transport system melting and overheated, roads grid-locked and hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets.

The spotlight of the world is turning on the UK with the Olympics fast approaching, with a disillusioned British public who have forked out billions for the Games (four times over budget!), and not forgetting the Londoners who will be picking up the tab for the next 20 years and who can't even get a ticket.

Transport chaos, as we saw last week with just a few events, leads to total gridlock of the capital, so imagine what it will be like in a year's time!

This country needs an injection of goodwill, and it needs to feel great about itself to face the tough economic environment.

The last thing we need is another highly visible debacle.

Image caption Protesters on the streets of Marseilles

So I suggest that instead of trying to hide it under the carpet, we must expose this "ras le bol" (French for "totally fed up") feeling of the people who try to take us hostage, and would love to put the country on its knees, as it was in the 1970s.

And as for the Games, can we get some good news and some inspiration, instead of constant bad news about over-budget, bad transport provisions, and politicians all trying to avoid the potential blame!

Pierre-Yves Gerbeau will be on Wednesday's Daily Politics - BBC Two from 1130 to 1300 BST - where he will debate his ideas with Labour MP Caroline Flint and Conservative MP David Davis after his film is shown.

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