Shaheen, one of the contributors at the estimable group blog, 'Aqoul, doesn't sound like a natural-born Sarkozy supporter, but she's distinctly underwhelmed by the Socialists. Ségolène Royal, she reckons, belongs to an outmoded statist tradition which actually has the effect of keeping the country's "Beurs" in their place:
Largely a working class population, French Arabs are doubly hit by discriminations which slow economic growth only aggravates. The many small businesses owned by Arabs are also hindered by such inefficiencies. Even though there are many issues to consider, French Arabs will not be able to defend any of their important concerns (civil rights, migration laws ... foreign policy, etc.) if their general economic (and resulting influence and educational) level is not improved in the first place.
Meanwhile, across the Channel, there's a sighting of an extremely rare breed: a black conservative. Shaun Bailey, the west London activist and community worker, speaks his mind in a compelling interview:
When [David] Cameron wants to know what is happening to the economy, he calls shadow chancellor George Osborne. When he wants to know about the deepening urban crisis - the crime, the drugs, the guns, and the warped moral codes that hold sway in many inner cities - he turns to Bailey.
And what Cameron hears about those estates, about the black communities and the impact upon them of the caring professions, has an uncompromising tone. "When you do a job like mine and the community work I do, you start to see lots of people in pain and living badly," Bailey says. "You see well-meaning people around them trying to help, but what they do is that they support them so much that they take over their lives. They rob them of the will and the skill to look after their own. They make them dependent. We get all these people who are parachuted into poor communities who manage that community and then go home to their lovely lives. It's just horrible for that community because it means all of us continue to live in this horrible dark world that we can't navigate without someone leading us from it."
This part of the profile is even more frank. Kudos to Bailey for being so honest:
He was born in north Kensington to parents who split when he was very young. He lost contact with his father, a lorry driver, for several years, but says that his mother - aided by his uncle - made it her mission to shield him from the crime and disorder around them. With an iron will, she kept him away from troublemakers and kept him busy. He recalls: "I did karate for a week, I did football for a week, then she found me a gymnastics place."
He says, without hint of embarrassment, that she even kept him from much of his own community. "She had seen how black people interact with black people - what they say to other black people - that means you can't go forward, that you get trapped in your own poor community..."
Brave words. I just hope he doesn't become just another Tory token rolled out for special media occasions.