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This is Bruce Anderson’s weekly newsletter on politics for Reaction. To become a subscriber for £1 per week or £48 per year you can join here.
The transformation in Tory fortunes is astonishing. Think back to the eve of the election campaign. Across the Channel, M. Macron was still far from established. His private life aroused more interest than his policies. It was noted that there appeared to be no French word for “toyboy.” Perhaps there now was: “un macron.” Like Mrs May, he had been lucky, benefiting from the implosion of formidable rivals. Unlike her, he did not have a party to sustain him. So even if he defeated Marine le Pen, how would he be able to reform the sclerotic French state, when he would be facing a hostile Assemblee Nationale?
Recent French Presidents have resembled the Monarchs who ruled between Henri II and Henri Quatre: a succession of puffed-up mediocrities whose reigns ended in failure. There seemed no reason to believe that President Macron would be different. Yet now, they are comparing him to the Petit Caporal. The truth is likely to lie somewhere between Napoleon and the last Valois Kings: we shall see. For the new man in the Elysee, it is still glad confident morning.
Downing Street is another story. But when Theresa May called the Election, there were only two reactions. The Tories generally applauded her ruthless cynicism because they assumed that she would win. Her opponents usually deplored it because they assumed that they would lose. That said, some Labour MPS – mainly with safe-ish seats – were covertly in favour of an election: it might provide a way of dumping Mr Corbyn. No-one actually thought that the Tories were in any danger.