Skip to main content

POLITICS: The stench of Le Pen's win

Watching the car-crashing cat fight that was the Macron v Le Pen debate, captured for YouTube by a screaming pair of semi-adolescent semi-literate commentators who have dubbed themselves "Hugo Decrypte" and "Acropolis", I died a number of deaths. 

First Death: the Format.

The first in the debate format; a tone-change established by TF1 hosts, clearly unequipped for the brawl that ensued between the two French presidential hopefuls. The moderators whimpered and stuttered their way through pitiful attempts at keeping time and candidates on topic. Accusations were slung back and forth by both Le Pen and Macron as each shouted over the other in attempt to prove themselves the least conventional and well-behaved to a French electorate which has unequivocally voted out its conventional party politicians from left and right parties alike, craving change. 

Change they got. Le Pen's relentless attacks on Macron's policies and refusal to expound on her own, Macron's rebuttals of "ne mentez pas" (stop lying), were unseen in the usually tame, polished, énarque (French Oxbridge) types who make up the Socialist, UDF and various and sundry 'republican' mainstream parties. 

While TF1's hosts were completely out of their depth in this bizarre, millennial-generation mouth-off, the French internet went into collective orgasm. Hashtags flying, yells of 'Oh!' and 'What zeu feucke?' accompanied my internet viewing, along with a chat room thread on the left of the screen. 

Tune into the above stream and weep.

Second Death: Eau de Trump

Le Pen's style was distinctly Trumpian, championing the common folk, mocking her opponent, viscerally attacking Macron's personality, refusing to be brought into the dangerous (and possibly unnecessary to swing an election) area of actually having policies. While the reaction from the French press and the Youtubers was to praise Macron on his substance and thoroughness, this was exactly what ended Clinton in the US debates barely a few months ago. A distinct whiff of Hillary surrounds Macron right now.

His vivacity, knowledge of the topics, ability to quote economic and fiscal policy, matching it with liberal values, his pristine suit, youthful (for French politics) manner and appearance of an exasperated teacher warning a school bully of her impending detention: all this spells danger. Macron is toeing the exact line walked by Clinton by taking a tack of substance over style: coming across excessively mannered and patronising to an electorate clearly hungry for change.

Third Death: Islamism and foreign policy.

Le Pen managed to come up Trumps here. Naming the blatant problem of Islamism and appearing as the candidate who won't tolerate extremism, while Macron danced around the intricacies of foreign policy, intelligence services and civil responsibility.

Macron is, of course, right to pursue this course with regard to Islamism when in office, but it's dangerous turf during the election, with the wounds of Nice, the Bataclan and the recent police killing still fresh and smarting. Again, like the erstwhile star First Lady propelled into the political limelight during her stint as Foreign Secretary under Obama, Macron has a smattering of sudden political experience as a key advisor to Hollande; not enough to make him savvy about communicating with a wide electorate, but just enough to be accused of being part of the system and attacked for past misdemeanours.

Macron switched from his earlier wry sarcasm over fiscal policy to a puffed chest and slow delivery when declaiming that he really, really won't tolerate Islamism. But it rings false, and smacks of the schoolteacher promising to definitely give a detention next time this happens. 

Where debate goes to die.

This debate was fodder for the YouTube generation, who visibly lapped up every moment of its hashtagging, OMGimg tomfoolery online. It is widely received in France as heralding the almost certain victory of a man of substance over the angry daughter of a post-Algerian-War-fascist.

But I don't like the tone of it all. The jeering at Le Pen, the confidence in the media, the eye-rolling. 

It stinks of a Le Pen victory.


Popular posts from this blog

COMMENT: Rivoli Riding - why a Carpentras cinema has me needing therapy

"I don't know how to feel about this, whether to love it or hate it. I just don't know". And in one breath, a petite, gleeful Dutch lady smashes the quiet discomfort of a room full of viewers, mulling over the contradictions of the film. Chloe Zhao's The Rider is a semi-documentary-part-fiction, favourite of 2017 Cannes film festival, and swept up awards in Deauville, Toronto and more. The hubbub begins as the Carpentras anglophiles sit around a cluster of café-parisien-style tables on which glasses of Cotes-du-rhône red wine, bowls of snacks and steaming slices of (homemade) pizza are magically appearing, like a tiny, stylish Hogwarts school of arthouse cinema wizardry.

"But the photography..."
"And that actor, playing himself! How did he even..."
"Well, the director got a standing ovation. She's Chinese."
"Remind me, Laura, I need to give you a book"
"Did he play himself?"
"The horses... How do you say 'd…

BARNET HUMANISTS Episode 1: Free Lunch?

Barnet Humanists!
Weekly secular lens on news, reviews and interviews of kids and grown ups on ethics and politics, books and flicks, and whatever makes us tic.
Host David (a Humanist Dad in North London) interviews kids - the Mini-Humanists - each week with a topic to get them thinking critically. I believe that by discussing the big questions, kids are better equipped to deal with an increasingly secular world, so if you're a Humanist parent or just interested in how to foster good critical thinking, this show is for you.
Some episodes will feature a me-rant, others an interview (if I can get Skype working). Others still will review a book I find relevant to current Humanist topics.

This week's show.

 The me-rant: I walk through a London park, yammering about politics, being a Humanist Dad, the Manchester attacks and other topics that cross my brain The Mini-Humanists chat about school dinners
Tweets are welcome @Barn…

Episode 9 - Satanism: the devil's harlot

This week's show is an interview with Leopold Pan, spokesperson from the London Satanic Temple.
What is Satanism?TenetsAtheist activism vs satanist religionChildren's rightsSacrifices?Political activism and plans

Reason is the Devil's harlot, who can do nought but slander and harm whatever God says and does.
German: Vernunft … ist die höchste Hur, die der Teufel hat …
— Martin Luther, Last Sermon in Wittenberg, Second Sunday in Epiphany, 17 January 1546. Sources: Dr. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, (Weimar: Herman Boehlaus Nachfolger, 1914), Band 51:126, Line 7ff; Martin Luther (1483-1546). The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.; H. L. Mencken, Treatise on the Gods, p.  244; Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great, p. 73.