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 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
This article was published on The Huffington Post
One of my favourite French words is bouleversement. It means disruption or upheaval. Zidane’s head-butt in the 2006 World Cup final represented bouleversement for the French team. When Parisian bakers were allowed to go on holiday whenever they wanted for the first time in 2015, there was (perhaps) bouleversement as locals found it harder to buy baguettes. Determined to conserve their culture, their language and their 35-hour week, the French see bouleversements everywhere.
On Sunday 23rd April French voters go to the polls for the first-round of the presidential election. There are eleven candidates facing the voters, and – providing no-one reaches the 50 percent threshold – the top two will go through to the second-round a fortnight later.
The current polling is available here.
It has certainly been a campaign of bouleversements. If you have not been following it so far, here is a guide to the main candidates. Continue reading Everything you need to know about the French election
In scrapping the proposed tax rise for the self-employed, Philip Hammond bottled an opportunity to get to grips with a changing labour market
Philip Hammond’s announcement in last week’s budget that he would raise National Insurance contributions (NICs) for the self-employed was savaged from the start, seen in particular as an attack on male drivers of a certain vehicle of a certain colour.
“Hammond hits White Van Man,” declared the Metro the following morning, while the Sun screamed: “Spite Van Man”. Continue reading Government cowers in the face of the White Van Man (WVM)
Back in January I interviewed Jon Lansman about his life and his political journey with the Labour left: from prominence in the 1980s to exile through the Blair years to Corbyn’s unexpected leadership win.
“The things I fucking do for socialism!”
This is what Jon Lansman exclaimed to Tom Watson on 15 June 2015, or at least, something similar. He can’t quite remember which word the expletive modified.
It was the deadline day for MPs to nominate candidates for the Labour leadership contest and Lansman was helping Jeremy Corbyn. Yet as a kidney donor he had an appointment to have a large sample of blood taken. Continue reading Interview with Jon Lansman, Momentum founder
A public meeting about Brexit in Keir Starmer’s constituency highlights the country’s polarisation
This article was published on Backbench
St Pancras Church, consecrated in 1822, is renowned for its Greek Revival architecture, inspired by the Erechtheum and the Tower of the Winds, both on the Acropolis in Athens. The Tower of the Winds is said to be the first weather station in the world.
On Tuesday night it hosted people hoping for a different kind of European revival, which was an opportunity to gauge the political weather in this part of central London. Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras and Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, was holding a public meeting on Brexit. He was joined by Tulip Siddiq, MP for neighbouring constituency Hampstead and Kilburn, and Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council. Camden voted to stay by 75%: a Remain heartland. Continue reading Remainland grieves over Brexit
This article was published in The Huffington Post
“I was the king in the family,” Alain Juppé claimed about his pampered upbringing. On a school trip to Lisbon, pleased to have escaped the family bubble, he was surprised to discover upon arriving that his overprotective parents had made the journey as well to check he was alright.
Now 71, Juppé is running to be the presidential nominee for the centre-right Republicans; he first became a minister over 30 years ago. He once declared that in French politics “only physical death counts, otherwise there is always the possibility of resurrection” and is the living proof of the statement’s veracity. Continue reading Alain Juppé: the cold, septuagenarian Conservative may be the best option For French progressives