All you young snowflakes, dancing in the streets of Paris and Richmond to celebrate the election of President Emmanuel Blair and the definitive rout of the Front National, have no idea how fortunate you are. Ask your parents and grandparents what it was like for liberals back in the days when they lived under the threat of a relentlessly advancing Front National.
Take, for instance, the ill-fated year 1983. To the consternation of liberal Europe, in the French municipal elections Jean-Marie Le Pen won a seat in Paris’s 20e arrondissement, followed in October by the FN gaining a victory, with 17 per cent of the vote, in a by-election at Dreux.
That triggered blind panic in progressive circles. A team of Samaritans took up residence in the Guardian offices; in Hampstead, sociology professors who could quote the works of Michael Foot word-perfect spent nights on their roofs, scanning the sky for Fascist parachutists dressed as nuns with snow on their boots. This apocalyptic misery was compounded by the Wicked Witch, who had invaded Argentina and sunk a peaceable battleship going about its lawful occasions, winning a landslide majority in Britain.
Dark days indeed. Contrast that with the celebratory mood of liberals and Europhiles today. The Front National has been crushed: its candidate failed to win the runoff in the presidential election, gaining a derisory support of slightly under 11 million votes, or 34 per cent; in the European Parliament it occupies only one-third of France’s seats; in municipal France it has not much more than 2,000 councillors. So, we’ll take that as an irreversible decline, then.
Nor is the rout of Fascism a purely French phenomenon. In the Netherlands earlier this year, Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom were similarly “crushed”, coming in second in the Dutch general election and only increasing their parliamentary seats to 20, out of 150. Same story in Austria – bliss is it in these days, and all that stuff.
Now comes the real fun: the victory celebrations, of which the principal feature will be the ritual humiliation of Britain for daring to escape from the Colditz of the European Union. No negotiations will be entertained until the United Kingdom has coughed up £52bn – oh, sod it, let’s make it £100bn, for this month at least. Afterwards we can amuse ourselves and replenish our depleted coffers by adding any number of surcharges to the bill. Hé, Emmanuel, come and join in the fun – we’re taking les rosbifs for every euro they have.
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No liberal holding power has ever seen any purpose but to abuse it. Why are you radically changing the demography of Europe by imposing mass immigration when the public dissents? Because we can. Only by imposing unpopular policies on an unresisting population can the full, gamey taste of unaccountable power be savoured. There was a strong flavour of that in Emmanuel Macron’s election pitch (to employ the term “manifesto” would be to abuse language). He was able to taunt responsible opinion in France by committing himself to further European integration, unchecked Muslim immigration, etc because he understood France’s crippling political heritage.
Macron realized that, although the electorate has rejected France’s legacy parties, it has not yet freed itself from the political conditioning to which the failed consensus subjected the public over two generations. In that Pavlovian discipline the Front National was “fascist”, taboo, relegated to the “Here be dragons” fringe of the political maps. No matter that the FN, in its multi-variegated history, has at one time or another embraced almost every non-Marxist policy it is possible to entertain, including poujadisme, just one of the many strands in its DNA.
There were incipient signs, during the recent presidential election, that some commentators were beginning to feel slightly sheepish, even embarrassed, about slapping the time-honoured label “fascist” onto Marine Le Pen’s party. Perhaps they had broken with journalistic tradition by actually reading her manifesto. The hugely significant fact that emerged from last Sunday’s vote was that, of those who voted for Macron, a majority of that majority did not support, like, trust, or want him. That situation represents a mortal sickness in a democratic system.
Voting for the consensus candidate because he is not Marine Le Pen can hold the line in 2017, but it will not work in 2022. France voted, with overt and acknowledged repugnance, for Macron because, in crude terms, that country has not yet suffered enough. Macron can be relied on to remedy that deficiency over the next five years.
The moment cannot forever be deferred when the scales fall from voters’ eyes and they say to themselves: I hate bankers and I voted for a millionaire Rothschild investment banker; I hate globalisation and I voted for an arch-globalist; I mistrust the EU and its currency, yet I voted for further integration… Why? Because the elites, the Énarques, the trades unions, the media, the discredited political parties told me I must do so, to stop Marine Le Pen. I can see why they want to stop her, but why should I?
If Marine Le Pen had been given the opportunity to select the incumbent of the Elysée most calculated to facilitate her victory in 2022, she would have computer realized Emmanuel Macron. The latest on-dit in the media is that Macron is bad news for Britain because his integrationist views will align him with Juncker, Barnier, Merkel and (the joker in the pack) Verhofstadt in holding Britain’s feet to the Brexit fire. It is to be hoped that is the case.
We want the EU fantasists who imagine they are “winning” and that all threats to them have been overcome to scale new heights of arrogance. Any day now they will be demanding Theresa May sign the Brexit agreement in a railway carriage at Compiègne. Let them carry their extravagant demands to the point where the Prime Minister has no excuse to avoid walking out of the negotiations and declaring unilateral withdrawal from the European Union.
Emmanuel Macron, the latest charlatan on the EU block, makes that desirable outcome more likely. In France he will play out a domestic tragedy that will contribute to the collapse of the EU. Brexit sounded the death knell of the EU. It could have survived without Britain joining; but Britain’s joining, then leaving, like tearing planking out of the hull of a ship, makes its demise inevitable. The EU leaders will go to any lengths to prolong its life, but they will only be prolonging its death. So, dance on in celebration, young liberal snowflakes. It is, after all, a classic French political tradition: they danced at Versailles in 1788.