Blog: Dave LeggettAvtoVAZ and Renault's friends in high places

Dave Leggett | 19 December 2007

Why did Renault win the competition to become AvtoVAZ's 'strategic partner'? Must admit, I hadn't really thought about the broader political picture, but Mark Bursa points out that French President Sarkozy has been cosying up to Russia's President Putin. It may well have helped Renault's case, along with other factors that caused Renault to come from behind and claim the prize. On one level, fair enough, I suppose.

That approach yields benefits and I'm not necessarily criticising that realpolitik type of approach. It has its place and the world is a mightily complex place these days, rights and wrongs a bit fuzzy. Big grey areas. Look, you want some Mirage jets? Step this way for a quiet chat.

Not very principled at times though is it?

We British may get right under the skins of some foreign governments (like, funnily enough, Russia's at the moment) but I quite like the fact that we tend to have principles and see through even the most difficult jobs that no-one else wants to do (our Armed Forces second to none), while maintaining the stiff upper lip and sticking up for fair play throughout. Cue Land of Hope and Glory, full blast.

Okay, I'm not 100% serious and I know Britain sells military gear to the Saudis and doesn't want those deals looked at too closely. Britain's government is hardly whiter than white and no country's is.

But fawning over Putin for blatantly commercial reasons while he's quietly rolling back freedom and democracy in Russia (other negatives more directly affecting us include using gas supply as an international political weapon, selectively discriminating against international companies and also threatening to point nuclear missiles at the West again, presumably not Paris though) leaves a slightly bad taste.

And, while we're on the subject, we absolutely cannot turn a blind eye to KGB guys (rogue or not) running around London poisoning people with radioactive materials and not, at least, being put on trial here.

Crikey, have I climbed onto a soapbox this morning, pomposity dial turned to the max? I'll get down.

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