Hollandaise sauce? I’m not sure the British public care for it

The status of Trierweiler, who is paid for by the French taxpayer, is a legitimate
matter for enquiry. The rest isn't

Share
Related Topics

How much more do we want to know about Francois Hollande? Up
until a few days ago, he had hardly registered on the barometer of public
interest here in Britain, save for his bowdlerisation by sections of our media
as a madcap socialist, responsible for such crazy policies as protecting
France's small, independent shops from the hegemony of the supermarkets, and
ensuring fair competition among taxi drivers.

But now, if you read most of our newspapers, he's the man we're all desperate to learn more about, and the fact that we've been thwarted in this because they do things differently in France is a matter of deep consternation. There has been so much fulmination about the way that his press conference on Monday was conducted, about the easy ride he was given by compliant French journalists on the subject of his private life, that you could think that one of the historic betrayals of the free press had just occurred.

With characteristic rhetorical flourish, Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail, channeling Homer Simpson, called the assembled representatives of the French media "a salon of oyster munchers, the powdered, poodling, truth-smothering trustees of polite Parisian opinion". Others were equally indignant, the implication being that the British media have a much more open and public-spirited approach to sexual scandal in high places.

The facts are now well-known, and tacitly acknowledged. M Hollande, who until recently has lived in the Élysée Palace with his long-term girlfriend, Valerie Trierweiler, is having an affair with an actress who, thankfully for the newspapers and magazines, has been photographed in a selection  of provocative poses. Answering the perfectly reasonable question about whether his girlfriend was still France's First Lady, M  Hollande said: "Each and every one of us, in their personal lives, can go through difficult periods. And that's our case." And that was all that was said on the matter.

Of course, the status of Mlle Trierweiler, who is paid for by the French taxpayer, is a legitimate matter for enquiry. But the rest? How much of the detail of M Hollande's affair do we want, or need, to know? I don't hold with the idea that his private life is beyond the purview of the media. Private morality can have an influence on public policy, and our elected representatives have a responsibility to uphold ethical standards.

But the case of M Hollande is rather different. He has admitted to having personal problems which may be the cause or a symptom of a fracture in his relationship with Ms Trierweiler. Either way, do we need to know who did what to whom and why? And, to follow this to its logical conclusion, how often? Of course not.

The grubby details of his supposed extra-marital shenanigans would do nothing more than satisfy the voyeuristic bloodlust of slavering journalists. And here’s the thing: I’m not sure the British public is as eager to find out what goes on between the sheets as we are led to believe. I sense a shift in the prevailing mood. One unheralded effect of the hacking scandal, now playing out at the Old Bailey, may be a recalibration of what we feel we have the right to know.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai  

China has exposed the fatal flaws in our liberal economic order

Ann Pettifor
Jeremy Corbyn addresses over a thousand supporters at Middlesbrough Town Hall on August 18, 2015  

Thank God we have the right-wing press to tell us what a disaster Jeremy Corbyn as PM would be

Mark Steel
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future