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A Holiday to The Languedoc

This Is My Look At The Sights of Montpellier

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The heat rises in France's banlieues

November 24, 2014


For months, Berlin has been urging Paris to rein in its still vast fiscal deficit, amid fears that policy excesses could spark a disastrous systemic collapse of the eurozone. Tensions are now coming to a head. On Friday, Germany’s European Commissioner questioned Hollande’s “willingness to act”, openly deriding French efforts at fiscal retrenchment after a succession of missed deficit targets.

“Money is getting tighter, of course, but we’re doing what we can,” says Laurence Ribeaucourt, a social worker who grew up near Clichy but a world away, in the prosperous Le Raincy district. She’s spent 25 years working with Clichy’s disaffected youth. “There’s a growing sense of reunion - people are trying - but unemployment remains a big problem,” Ribeaucourt says. “With Clichy on their CV, many kids don’t have a hope,” she explains. “Paris is another planet - we’re miles from the Metro, and tens of thousands of people here are served by just one slow bus route”.

There are signs of regeneration in Clichy - in the form of some new playgrounds and street furniture. But the housing stock remains ghastly, mostly rundown post-war tower blocks, often overcrowded and with permanently broken lifts. Tuberculosis and lead poisoning aren’t uncommon. And tenants without the right paperwork pay double-rent, Ribeaucourt tells me, or landlords report them to the police.

Mady Traoré, 24 was born in France, to Malian parents, and lives in Clichy-sous-Bois. Photo: Liam Halligan/ The Telegraph

Since 2005, surveillance cameras have been installed right across Clichy and are now almost as ubiquitous as “F--k the Police” graffiti. Ominously, the district’s new police station, built after the riots, is surrounded by a 12-foot high solid steel wall, topped with metal grids to repel Molotov cocktails and other types of firebombs.

While French unemployment stands at just above 10 per cent, in Clichy it’s more like 25 per cent. Among the under-25s in the district, over 40 per cent are out of work. “The economic crisis is causing a social crisis, particularly in les banlieues” says Amirouche Ait Djoudi, the Algerian-born Director of Impulsion 75, a Paris-based youth support group funded by both public and private money.

“It wasn’t so hard for young Algerian boys like me 30 or 40 years ago,” says Mr Djoudi. “There was work for unskilled labour and our families could thrive. But today’s immigrants are often unemployed, so they feel lost - and every year over 150,000 more French youngsters leave school with nothing”.

Social - and racial - tensions are rising in France, with mainstream politicians increasingly dismissed as out of touch. In May, Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front Nationale won the European elections, attracting 25pc of all votes - on an anti-immigration, anti-Europe ticket. Le Pen’s popularity has deeply unnerved the French political establishment, with polls suggesting she could now win the 2017 Presidential election.

“One reason Le Pen is strong is that many poorer French people don’t vote,” says Fabrice Amaudruz, a Research Director at the University de Citoyen in Marseille, where studies into social deprivation are funded by George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. Amaudruz reports that in areas like Clichy, or the tough 13th arrondissement of North Marseille, abstention rates can top 70 per cent.

“It’s crazy, but when people in les banlieues do vote, it’s often for Le Pen despite her racist message,” he explains. “It’s partly out of fear but also because many immigrants hate the European Union. They see it as the cause of their problems, saying Brussels wants to lower social spending and decrease workers’ rights”.

Mr Amaudruz describes as “shocking” the fact that in his native-Marseille, the Front Nationale now holds mayoral office in several areas with majority-immigrant communities. “France has a good tradition of people living together, which Le Pen is trying to wreck,” he says. “But some immigrants vote for her and many others abstain - and that helps her win elections”.

Back in Clichy, Pauline Mubiala and Anissa Rhenzour, both aged 14, are playing football. They train every week, in an all-girls team on a high quality all-weather pitch that was laid after the 2005 riots.

“I like coming here,” says Pauline. “I enjoy the team work, the exercise and I learn lots of lessons for life”. Smiling at her friend, Anissa feels the same way. “We have to turn up on time, with the right kit, or we don’t get to play,” she says. “Some of the guys on the estate call us tomboys, but I don’t mind that - I’ve been at this club for four years now and football is my passion”.

Their coach, Manu Da Rocha, himself of immigrant stock, looks on with pride. “These girls are good players,” he says. “Their football gives them hope”. Lowering his voice, he looks he straight in the eye. “Doing this is great for them - it means they’re standing up to macho guys around here who disregard women,” he says. “By playing football, these girls are showing they won’t be pushed around, and that’s what they need to learn”.

Watching Da Rocha expertly coach several dozen girls, almost all of North or West African origin, doing well-drilled training exercises on a pristine surface, it’s hard not to feel inspired. Yet, it’s clear that, beyond such social programs, the French policy mix isn’t helping to generate the jobs and growth that could help limit social and racial problems.

Attempts to lower the minimum wage for youngsters, a move many think would reduce youth unemployment, have fallen foul of the all-power French unions. The country’s famously excessive bureaucracy also discourages the growth of employment-intensive small and medium-sized firms.

“We implemented a tax-free zone in Clichy, encouraging investors to set up businesses but it didn’t work as people couldn’t see beyond the area’s bad image,” says Ms Ribeaucourt. “That didn’t stop people using a Clichy address as a tax dodge, while employing people elsewhere,” she adds with shrug.

Mady Traoré has made a lot of progress since the 2005 riots. He has a job, working as an information clerk for SNCF, the French state-owned railway. Unlike some of his neighbours, he has good relations with local police. “There are still chances here in France,” he tells me defiantly. “If you really want to get on, then you can get on - and I’m proud of the work I do”.

With intense negotiations taking place this weekend between Paris and Berlin, the European Commission’s ruling on whether France must take extra steps to control its budget deficit could emerge as early as Tuesday. Cuts in social programs, and government-sponsored jobs like Madi’s, will do little to help Clichy-sous-Bois.

“My family is French, since long before Napoleon,” says Ms Ribeaucourt. “And I’m not scarred of Le Pen. She may win the first round of the election, but I still believe in France. And there’s no way we’re mad enough to give her the Presidency”.

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/568507/s/40bfa52a/sc/2/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cnews0Cworldnews0Ceurope0Cfrance0C112480A980CThe0Eheat0Erises0Ein0EFrances0Ebanlieues0Bhtml/story01.htm

The heat rises in France's banlieues

November 24, 2014


For months, Berlin has been urging Paris to rein in its still vast fiscal deficit, amid fears that policy excesses could spark a disastrous systemic collapse of the eurozone. Tensions are now coming to a head. On Friday, Germany’s European Commissioner questioned Hollande’s “willingness to act”, openly deriding French efforts at fiscal retrenchment after a succession of missed deficit targets.

“Money is getting tighter, of course, but we’re doing what we can,” says Laurence Ribeaucourt, a social worker who grew up near Clichy but a world away, in the prosperous Le Raincy district. She’s spent 25 years working with Clichy’s disaffected youth. “There’s a growing sense of reunion - people are trying - but unemployment remains a big problem,” Ribeaucourt says. “With Clichy on their CV, many kids don’t have a hope,” she explains. “Paris is another planet - we’re miles from the Metro, and tens of thousands of people here are served by just one slow bus route”.

There are signs of regeneration in Clichy - in the form of some new playgrounds and street furniture. But the housing stock remains ghastly, mostly rundown post-war tower blocks, often overcrowded and with permanently broken lifts. Tuberculosis and lead poisoning aren’t uncommon. And tenants without the right paperwork pay double-rent, Ribeaucourt tells me, or landlords report them to the police.

Mady Traoré, 24 was born in France, to Malian parents, and lives in Clichy-sous-Bois. Photo: Liam Halligan/ The Telegraph

Since 2005, surveillance cameras have been installed right across Clichy and are now almost as ubiquitous as “F--k the Police” graffiti. Ominously, the district’s new police station, built after the riots, is surrounded by a 12-foot high solid steel wall, topped with metal grids to repel Molotov cocktails and other types of firebombs.

While French unemployment stands at just above 10 per cent, in Clichy it’s more like 25 per cent. Among the under-25s in the district, over 40 per cent are out of work. “The economic crisis is causing a social crisis, particularly in les banlieues” says Amirouche Ait Djoudi, the Algerian-born Director of Impulsion 75, a Paris-based youth support group funded by both public and private money.

“It wasn’t so hard for young Algerian boys like me 30 or 40 years ago,” says Mr Djoudi. “There was work for unskilled labour and our families could thrive. But today’s immigrants are often unemployed, so they feel lost - and every year over 150,000 more French youngsters leave school with nothing”.

Social - and racial - tensions are rising in France, with mainstream politicians increasingly dismissed as out of touch. In May, Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front Nationale won the European elections, attracting 25pc of all votes - on an anti-immigration, anti-Europe ticket. Le Pen’s popularity has deeply unnerved the French political establishment, with polls suggesting she could now win the 2017 Presidential election.

“One reason Le Pen is strong is that many poorer French people don’t vote,” says Fabrice Amaudruz, a Research Director at the University de Citoyen in Marseille, where studies into social deprivation are funded by George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. Amaudruz reports that in areas like Clichy, or the tough 13th arrondissement of North Marseille, abstention rates can top 70 per cent.

“It’s crazy, but when people in les banlieues do vote, it’s often for Le Pen despite her racist message,” he explains. “It’s partly out of fear but also because many immigrants hate the European Union. They see it as the cause of their problems, saying Brussels wants to lower social spending and decrease workers’ rights”.

Mr Amaudruz describes as “shocking” the fact that in his native-Marseille, the Front Nationale now holds mayoral office in several areas with majority-immigrant communities. “France has a good tradition of people living together, which Le Pen is trying to wreck,” he says. “But some immigrants vote for her and many others abstain - and that helps her win elections”.

Back in Clichy, Pauline Mubiala and Anissa Rhenzour, both aged 14, are playing football. They train every week, in an all-girls team on a high quality all-weather pitch that was laid after the 2005 riots.

“I like coming here,” says Pauline. “I enjoy the team work, the exercise and I learn lots of lessons for life”. Smiling at her friend, Anissa feels the same way. “We have to turn up on time, with the right kit, or we don’t get to play,” she says. “Some of the guys on the estate call us tomboys, but I don’t mind that - I’ve been at this club for four years now and football is my passion”.

Their coach, Manu Da Rocha, himself of immigrant stock, looks on with pride. “These girls are good players,” he says. “Their football gives them hope”. Lowering his voice, he looks he straight in the eye. “Doing this is great for them - it means they’re standing up to macho guys around here who disregard women,” he says. “By playing football, these girls are showing they won’t be pushed around, and that’s what they need to learn”.

Watching Da Rocha expertly coach several dozen girls, almost all of North or West African origin, doing well-drilled training exercises on a pristine surface, it’s hard not to feel inspired. Yet, it’s clear that, beyond such social programs, the French policy mix isn’t helping to generate the jobs and growth that could help limit social and racial problems.

Attempts to lower the minimum wage for youngsters, a move many think would reduce youth unemployment, have fallen foul of the all-power French unions. The country’s famously excessive bureaucracy also discourages the growth of employment-intensive small and medium-sized firms.

“We implemented a tax-free zone in Clichy, encouraging investors to set up businesses but it didn’t work as people couldn’t see beyond the area’s bad image,” says Ms Ribeaucourt. “That didn’t stop people using a Clichy address as a tax dodge, while employing people elsewhere,” she adds with shrug.

Mady Traoré has made a lot of progress since the 2005 riots. He has a job, working as an information clerk for SNCF, the French state-owned railway. Unlike some of his neighbours, he has good relations with local police. “There are still chances here in France,” he tells me defiantly. “If you really want to get on, then you can get on - and I’m proud of the work I do”.

With intense negotiations taking place this weekend between Paris and Berlin, the European Commission’s ruling on whether France must take extra steps to control its budget deficit could emerge as early as Tuesday. Cuts in social programs, and government-sponsored jobs like Madi’s, will do little to help Clichy-sous-Bois.

“My family is French, since long before Napoleon,” says Ms Ribeaucourt. “And I’m not scarred of Le Pen. She may win the first round of the election, but I still believe in France. And there’s no way we’re mad enough to give her the Presidency”.

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/568507/s/40bfa52a/sc/2/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cnews0Cworldnews0Ceurope0Cfrance0C112480A980CThe0Eheat0Erises0Ein0EFrances0Ebanlieues0Bhtml/story01.htm

Top French journo prof 'ripped off' other media

November 17, 2014


A high-profile journalism school in Paris has been left red-faced after its executive dean was accused of plagiarising material from other media and using it in her other job as a columnist - despite the strict anti-plagiarism guidelines the school vigorously enforces on its students.

The executive dean of the journalism school linked to the prestigious Sciences Po in Paris has been forced to take a leave of absence after the media critic website Arr

Top French journo prof 'ripped off' other media

November 17, 2014


A high-profile journalism school in Paris has been left red-faced after its executive dean was accused of plagiarising material from other media and using it in her other job as a columnist - despite the strict anti-plagiarism guidelines the school vigorously enforces on its students.

The executive dean of the journalism school linked to the prestigious Sciences Po in Paris has been forced to take a leave of absence after the media critic website Arr

Life in France? Now is our winter of discontent

November 11, 2014


"The banker Macron? We don't know him, he's never said or done anything that was remotely of the Left," the maverick Socialist defector, Jean-Luc M

Life in France? Now is our winter of discontent

November 11, 2014


"The banker Macron? We don't know him, he's never said or done anything that was remotely of the Left," the maverick Socialist defector, Jean-Luc M

I.S.R. Racing Enters Pizzitola, Malja In Jerez World Series By Renault Test

November 4, 2014


I.S.R. Racing is proud to announce the names of the two drivers entering the upcoming World Series by Renault postseason test at Jerez de la Frontera. The Czech squad will field two Zytek-powered 3.5 Dallara racecars for Andrea Pizzitola and Gustav Malja.

Full Story



Quantcast

Copyright © 2014 Topix LLC

http://www.topix.com/fr/montpellier/2014/10/i-s-r-racing-enters-pizzitola-malja-in-jerez-world-series-by-renault-test?fromrss=1

I.S.R. Racing Enters Pizzitola, Malja In Jerez World Series By Renault Test

November 4, 2014


I.S.R. Racing is proud to announce the names of the two drivers entering the upcoming World Series by Renault postseason test at Jerez de la Frontera. The Czech squad will field two Zytek-powered 3.5 Dallara racecars for Andrea Pizzitola and Gustav Malja.

Full Story



Quantcast

Copyright © 2014 Topix LLC

http://www.topix.com/fr/montpellier/2014/10/i-s-r-racing-enters-pizzitola-malja-in-jerez-world-series-by-renault-test?fromrss=1

The wealth tax: a tax on the 'rich' that cripples the poor

October 28, 2014


The Alliers, pensioners on fixed incomes, don’t have any jewellery, or any money. “Our wheelbarrows, they don’t serve to carry wads of cash,” says Mr Allier. These days, they don’t have much land, either. Over the past decade, they’ve sold nearly all of it to pay the wealth taxes that regularly exceeded their entire income. They only have one field left, though if prices keep rising, they may have to get rid of that, too, to hold on to their house.

Valérie Constancin, president of the Association for the Defence of the Inhabitants of the Île de Ré, says that many of the hardest cases on the island arose when people suddenly came to the authorities’ attention – perhaps because a family member had died, or they needed permission for some change to their land. Then they were hit with gigantic bills for years of back taxes, often with penalties for non‑disclosure of “wealth” that they never realised they had.

“They don’t know they have to pay so they don’t do the things they need to minimise it,” she said. “One elderly childminder was suddenly presented with a bill for €55,000 (£45,000) when her husband died. Those were her life savings. She had to pay and she is wondering how she will pay next year now. Our children will have to sell up and leave. We’ll end up as a bird sanctuary.”

In French, ISF means “solidarity tax on fortunes”. But there is very little solidarity, and the number of actual fortunes caught by it is small. As you would expect, anyone with real money finds ways round the tax. Its burden falls instead on those of middling income who cannot afford to pay clever advisers.

The wealth tax, first introduced by the Mitterrand government in 1981 and in its present form in 1988, tends to yo-yo, with Right-wing governments reducing it and Left-wing governments putting it up. In 2012, President François Hollande’s socialists sharply increased the rates and bands, dragging in more people. In 2001, only 281,000 paid it. Eleven years later, that had more than doubled, to 600,000.

In 2012, Gilles Carrez, chairman of the National Assembly finance committee, estimated that “several hundred, perhaps as many as a thousand” of those people – peasants on the Île de Ré and a few other fashionable holiday spots, pensioners with expensive flats in central Paris – would be forced to pay more than 100 per cent of their income in taxes. A few would have to pay up to 400 per cent, he said. (A “plafonnement”, or cap, has since been introduced, theoretically limiting total taxes to three quarters of income.)

But even for the more typical ISF payer – a middle manager, say, with a five-bedroom house in one of the capital’s better suburbs – the tax is a curse.

“I have already paid taxes on the income I used to buy my place, and again on the savings I built up towards it,” says Pierre Perrin, from Bougival, a bourgeois part of Paris. “Each year we have to declare everything we have to the state, including my wife’s jewellery, our cars and the contents of our wine cellar. It is a major invasion of privacy, as much as anything.”

French newspapers and tabloid websites lap up the annual league tables, published by the tax authorities, of how many people in each individual neighbourhood are liable for ISF and what their assets are.

The wheezes used to avoid paying the tax are, of course, manifold. If you’ve ever wondered why French people have so many antiques and works of art in their homes, the reason is not just Gallic good taste. Assets over 100 years old, or created by hand, do not count towards the ISF. Other taxpayers make temporary “gifts” of their assets to relatives, without actually having to give them away for ever – though this procedure involves entering another potential fiscal whirlpool, France’s “gift tax”.

Then there are the more advanced forms of avoidance – like those practised by, well, one François Hollande. He may have declared his support for wealth taxes because, in his words, he “hates the rich”. But the then future president and his then partner, Ségolène Royal, also a leading French politician, were monstered by the press in 2007 after it emerged that they had dramatically undervalued their own personal property empire in order to minimise their ISF.

The couple valued what they described as a “modest villa” at Mougins, on the Riviera near Cannes – complete with swimming pool, garden and nice view of the Med – at just €270,000 (then £192,000), a figure greeted with a mixture of disbelief and laughter by locals. A panel of estate agents convened by the investigative newspaper, Le Canard enchaîné, said it was worth three times as much.

Their flat in the expensive Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt was declared to the tax authorities at £535,000, when it was actually worth £850,000. Then there was a third property they used in northern France. Mr Hollande and Ms Royal escaped ISF on this altogether by transferring it to a special property company – owned by themselves and Mr Hollande’s parents. In total, it was estimated, French politics’ premier power couple should have paid £4,300 in ISF that year. They actually paid £616.

Ms Royal’s defence, incidentally, was that the Mougins villa was a “family house, bought more than 20 years ago”. That is, of course, the precise frustration expressed by thousands of other middle-class people across France – but then, they do not support the wealth tax.

After Mr Hollande acceded to the presidency, one of his ministers was found to have taken an even more direct approach to avoiding his dues. In April last year, after flatly denying it for months, Jérôme Cahuzac admitted that he had, for two decades, used a secret bank account at UBS in Geneva to avoid paying French tax. His role in Mr Hollande’s government? He was the minister responsible for tackling tax avoidance.

Often called the “Incitement de Sortir de la France”, or incentive to leave the country, the ISF may well have played its part in France’s current economic stagnation. Tens of thousands of French entrepreneurs, driven out to London, the Far East or the US by the policy, are creating wealth for other countries, not their own.

The deterrent to foreign investors is also substantial; some campaigners estimate that it has cost France 0.3 per cent of annual growth. When your total growth this year is forecast to be only 0.4 per cent (Britain’s is predicted to be 3.2 per cent), that may not be something the French economy can afford.

Yet just as important, the ISF is morally as well as economically counterproductive. It makes victims of the poor, and hypocrites of the rich. Mr Miliband should take note.

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/568507/s/3fd5734b/sc/7/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cnews0Cworldnews0Ceurope0Cfrance0C1118760A20CThe0Ewealth0Etax0Ea0Etax0Eon0Ethe0Erich0Ethat0Ecripples0Ethe0Epoor0Bhtml/story01.htm

The wealth tax: a tax on the 'rich' that cripples the poor

October 28, 2014


The Alliers, pensioners on fixed incomes, don’t have any jewellery, or any money. “Our wheelbarrows, they don’t serve to carry wads of cash,” says Mr Allier. These days, they don’t have much land, either. Over the past decade, they’ve sold nearly all of it to pay the wealth taxes that regularly exceeded their entire income. They only have one field left, though if prices keep rising, they may have to get rid of that, too, to hold on to their house.

Valérie Constancin, president of the Association for the Defence of the Inhabitants of the Île de Ré, says that many of the hardest cases on the island arose when people suddenly came to the authorities’ attention – perhaps because a family member had died, or they needed permission for some change to their land. Then they were hit with gigantic bills for years of back taxes, often with penalties for non‑disclosure of “wealth” that they never realised they had.

“They don’t know they have to pay so they don’t do the things they need to minimise it,” she said. “One elderly childminder was suddenly presented with a bill for €55,000 (£45,000) when her husband died. Those were her life savings. She had to pay and she is wondering how she will pay next year now. Our children will have to sell up and leave. We’ll end up as a bird sanctuary.”

In French, ISF means “solidarity tax on fortunes”. But there is very little solidarity, and the number of actual fortunes caught by it is small. As you would expect, anyone with real money finds ways round the tax. Its burden falls instead on those of middling income who cannot afford to pay clever advisers.

The wealth tax, first introduced by the Mitterrand government in 1981 and in its present form in 1988, tends to yo-yo, with Right-wing governments reducing it and Left-wing governments putting it up. In 2012, President François Hollande’s socialists sharply increased the rates and bands, dragging in more people. In 2001, only 281,000 paid it. Eleven years later, that had more than doubled, to 600,000.

In 2012, Gilles Carrez, chairman of the National Assembly finance committee, estimated that “several hundred, perhaps as many as a thousand” of those people – peasants on the Île de Ré and a few other fashionable holiday spots, pensioners with expensive flats in central Paris – would be forced to pay more than 100 per cent of their income in taxes. A few would have to pay up to 400 per cent, he said. (A “plafonnement”, or cap, has since been introduced, theoretically limiting total taxes to three quarters of income.)

But even for the more typical ISF payer – a middle manager, say, with a five-bedroom house in one of the capital’s better suburbs – the tax is a curse.

“I have already paid taxes on the income I used to buy my place, and again on the savings I built up towards it,” says Pierre Perrin, from Bougival, a bourgeois part of Paris. “Each year we have to declare everything we have to the state, including my wife’s jewellery, our cars and the contents of our wine cellar. It is a major invasion of privacy, as much as anything.”

French newspapers and tabloid websites lap up the annual league tables, published by the tax authorities, of how many people in each individual neighbourhood are liable for ISF and what their assets are.

The wheezes used to avoid paying the tax are, of course, manifold. If you’ve ever wondered why French people have so many antiques and works of art in their homes, the reason is not just Gallic good taste. Assets over 100 years old, or created by hand, do not count towards the ISF. Other taxpayers make temporary “gifts” of their assets to relatives, without actually having to give them away for ever – though this procedure involves entering another potential fiscal whirlpool, France’s “gift tax”.

Then there are the more advanced forms of avoidance – like those practised by, well, one François Hollande. He may have declared his support for wealth taxes because, in his words, he “hates the rich”. But the then future president and his then partner, Ségolène Royal, also a leading French politician, were monstered by the press in 2007 after it emerged that they had dramatically undervalued their own personal property empire in order to minimise their ISF.

The couple valued what they described as a “modest villa” at Mougins, on the Riviera near Cannes – complete with swimming pool, garden and nice view of the Med – at just €270,000 (then £192,000), a figure greeted with a mixture of disbelief and laughter by locals. A panel of estate agents convened by the investigative newspaper, Le Canard enchaîné, said it was worth three times as much.

Their flat in the expensive Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt was declared to the tax authorities at £535,000, when it was actually worth £850,000. Then there was a third property they used in northern France. Mr Hollande and Ms Royal escaped ISF on this altogether by transferring it to a special property company – owned by themselves and Mr Hollande’s parents. In total, it was estimated, French politics’ premier power couple should have paid £4,300 in ISF that year. They actually paid £616.

Ms Royal’s defence, incidentally, was that the Mougins villa was a “family house, bought more than 20 years ago”. That is, of course, the precise frustration expressed by thousands of other middle-class people across France – but then, they do not support the wealth tax.

After Mr Hollande acceded to the presidency, one of his ministers was found to have taken an even more direct approach to avoiding his dues. In April last year, after flatly denying it for months, Jérôme Cahuzac admitted that he had, for two decades, used a secret bank account at UBS in Geneva to avoid paying French tax. His role in Mr Hollande’s government? He was the minister responsible for tackling tax avoidance.

Often called the “Incitement de Sortir de la France”, or incentive to leave the country, the ISF may well have played its part in France’s current economic stagnation. Tens of thousands of French entrepreneurs, driven out to London, the Far East or the US by the policy, are creating wealth for other countries, not their own.

The deterrent to foreign investors is also substantial; some campaigners estimate that it has cost France 0.3 per cent of annual growth. When your total growth this year is forecast to be only 0.4 per cent (Britain’s is predicted to be 3.2 per cent), that may not be something the French economy can afford.

Yet just as important, the ISF is morally as well as economically counterproductive. It makes victims of the poor, and hypocrites of the rich. Mr Miliband should take note.

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/568507/s/3fd5734b/sc/7/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cnews0Cworldnews0Ceurope0Cfrance0C1118760A20CThe0Ewealth0Etax0Ea0Etax0Eon0Ethe0Erich0Ethat0Ecripples0Ethe0Epoor0Bhtml/story01.htm

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