Last week, City A.M. editor Allister Heath wrote this piece: France’s failed socialist experiment is turning into a tragedy
In response, the French Embassy has launched something of an (un)diplomatic rejoinder: 10 accounts on which City A.M. has got it wrong on France
The embassy has levelled that France has a better health service, roads, rail and tax system than the UK. It criticised the NHS which, it said, is 'ailing'.
Taking issue with Heath's assertion that France has seen "absurd levels of inefficient public spending", the embassy recollects funding surges under Blair, forced on the government because of years of under-investment:
The current government has had to ring-fence funding for this ailing institution.
The French system, by comparison, which is also almost entirely free of charge, came top of 191 countries in the World Health Organization’s rankings for overall healthcare.
This prompted health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) to join in, speaking to The Telegraph:
We may face stiff competition from the French on cheese & wine, but there's a reason the NHS makes us more proud to be British than any other institution.
But the embassy ploughs on, censuring British infrastructure:
Similar success exists in infrastructure, from high-speed rail to energy
France has always sought to achieve greater efficiency and will continue to do so in spite of future budget cuts. Clearly, when you live in France – from health to infrastructure and energy costs to transport – you get more bang for your euro.
Tory MP Dominic Raab then threw in his two pennies' worth:
The histrionic reaction of the French Ambassador only magnifies the increasing sense of Gallic insecurity commentators talk about.
There's a reason London is now the sixth largest French city, and that's because an increasing number of French workers recognise their socialist experiment has failed.
And the backlash hasn't stopped there.
Huffington Post UK has spoken to a few more MPs. Reactions were as followed:
Brooks Newmark, Tory member of the Commons Treasury Committee, quipped:
Francois Hollande seems to manage his financial affairs as well as his personal affairs.
Conservative MEP David Campbell-Bannerman expressed a similar sentiment, saying:
The only growth in the French economy appears to be in morning croissants and actress' careers.
The above refer, of course, to President Hollande's rumoured affair with French actress Julie Gayet.
On a more serious note, David Rutley MP said Hollande's economic experiment was "failing", adding:
The focus must be on free enterprise and EU reform. It’s something that businesses across the EU, including those in France, need and deserve.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Tory backbencher who is member of the European Scrutiny Committee, labelled the embassy attack "somewhat eccentric" and "undignified for a foreign mission".
Another Treasury committee member, Tory MP Mark Garnier, said:
Anyone can pick whatever data they want from a complex picture to support any argument they want, but does what Allister Heath says pass the ‘sniff test’? Riots, criminal union activities, sluggish economy, questionable data outputs and a wider socialist agenda do not paint a picture of a country in the spring of its economic cycle. Add to that U-turns by Hollande and it is hard find too much fault with Heath’s overall sentiment.