Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to form a praetorian guard isn’t going too well:
President Emmanuel Macron’s new-look national service has got off to a shaky start, with 29 teenagers in the first group of recruits succumbing to heat exhaustion during a ceremony in Evreux, near Paris.
Well done, chaps. Now I thought France had abolished national service and indeed they had, but:
Mr Macron is France’s first president not to have done compulsory military service, which was abolished in 1996. The first batch of 2,000 recruits embarked on his updated version of national service at the weekend.
Several hundred politicians, public personalities and military cadets also attended the unveiling of the statue on Tuesday, the anniversary of General de Gaulle’s 1940 appeal to the French to resist the Nazis.
Mr Macron’s new “Universal National Service” is mainly civic but has a military component. It was launched at the weekend with a volunteer group, but is eventually to become compulsory for all 16-year-olds.
What better way to mark one’s opposition to Nazis than forming a compulsory politico-military youth movement?
The teenagers are spending two weeks under the supervision of soldiers and youth workers, who are training them in self-defence and how to respond to a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
Or, the ruling classes hope, put down the mob at the palace gates.
They are only allowed to use their mobiles during a one-hour free period each day.
Presumably so they can’t inform their parents that their supervisors are so incompetent they can’t even supply them with water and keep them in the shade.
They wear a uniform of black trousers, white shirts and a blue cap for ceremonies, and fluorescent vests for civil protection exercises.
I guess this will make things easier for when they defect to the gilets jaunes. At least they had the sense not to make the shirts black. Because of the sun, you see.