Will Donald Trump make or break Europe?

Angela Merkel Donald Trump 2017-03-17 (cropped)

This is an article I wrote back in March, which was shortlisted for the Nico Colchester Journalism fellowship. A few months on, I think the thrust of the analysis remains relevant, and I feel more sure of my argument.

Henry Kissinger once famously asked “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe,” supposedly illustrating the American desire for a single European voice on the world stage. Except, he didn’t. According to an anecdote published in the Financial Times, the master of Realpolitik did not like dealing with the President of the Council of European Union as the spokesman for the entire organisation, and rather seemed to want to divide and rule in Europe. Continue reading Will Donald Trump make or break Europe?

The Louvre-Lens museum: elitist imposition or economic catalyst?

Louvre-Lens-night

This article is part of a series I wrote between the presidential and legislative elections in France.

When French postman Philippe Abrams pretended to be disabled in order to secure a work transfer to the Mediterranean coast, he was found out and sent as punishment to the town of Bergues in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, where it rains a lot and the people are supposedly almost primitive. Continue reading The Louvre-Lens museum: elitist imposition or economic catalyst?

Can Macron bring back the extremes?

Macron supporters' group in Lens

This article is part of a series I wrote between the presidential and legislative elections in France.

It was the defining moment of the campaign. Marine Le Pen had set up Emmanuel Macron, but the soon-to-be president got his own back. Macron was talking to union representatives from a tumble-dryer factory threatened with closure in Amiens, in the north-east of France. Le Pen visited workers on the picket line and told them Macron was showing “contempt” by failing to visit them. Continue reading Can Macron bring back the extremes?

The hole in the centre ground: how France’s north-east coalfields turned to the populists

old cinema in Lens

This article is part of a series I wrote between the presidential and legislative elections in France.

When you arrive by train into the town of Lens and leave the station, opposite you stands the shell of the old Apollo Cinema (above). It opened in 1932 and in its time it hosted a whole host of contemporary stars such as Yves Montand, Coluche and Josephine Baker. It closed its doors on the 31 December 2000, but remains a dirty reminder of times gone by. Continue reading The hole in the centre ground: how France’s north-east coalfields turned to the populists

Did a thirty-year-old book about television predict Donald Trump?

Donald Trump Laconia Rally, Laconia, NH 4 by Michael Vadon July 16 2015 03
He has been lauded as prophetic. Trump’s ascent “would not have surprised” him, according to CNN. His son said he foresaw a celebrity president with fascistic tendencies. Google searches for his book spiked at a five-year high on February 3rd, just days after Trump’s inauguration.

Neil Postman published Amusing Ourselves to Death in 1985, a few years after a man with a show business background became a Republican president (a certain Ronald Reagan). Can this book help explain why Americans have now elected Donald Trump? Continue reading Did a thirty-year-old book about television predict Donald Trump?

No, Marine Le Pen would not be better for Brexit Britain than Emmanuel Macron

Meeting 1er mai 2012 Front National, Paris (45)
This article was published on HuffPost

We could call them red-, white- and blue-tinted spectacles. Since the vote to leave the European Union, there is a tendency in Britain to view European politics through the lens of Brexit. Every vote – from the Austrian presidential election to the Italian constitutional referendum and the Dutch general election – is seen as a vote on the EU.

The same has happened in the French presidential election, where on Sunday far-right Marine Le Pen will face off against centrist Emmanuel Macron in the second round. Le Pen is opposed to the European Union; Macron wants to strengthen it. Continue reading No, Marine Le Pen would not be better for Brexit Britain than Emmanuel Macron

The Macron supporters in Le Pen’s heartland

Emmanuel Macron (3)

“The French ended up turning the table over yesterday, but without breaking the crockery.”

This is how the Editor-in-Chief of one regional newspaper, La Voix du Nord, described the first round of the presidential election, which saw centrist Emmanuel Macron finish first, above far-right Marine Le Pen. He is now widely expected to beat Le Pen in the run-off in a fortnight’s time and become France’s next president. Continue reading The Macron supporters in Le Pen’s heartland