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

Everything you need to know about the French election

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

Alain Juppé: the cold, septuagenarian Conservative may be the best option For French progressives

Alain Juppé à Québec

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

What causes someone to become a terrorist? The French debate.

Paris Shootings - The day after (22593744177)

“France is at war,” declared François Hollande, after last November’s attacks in Paris. Since then, he has had to declare it several more times. It is a strange sort of war. France fights not against a coherent, well-defined enemy, but against a pervasive ideology. The front line is now not just the streets of Paris but provincial cities and even the French countryside. Continue reading What causes someone to become a terrorist? The French debate.

Spain votes again

This article was published on Backbench

For a small impoverished region in the north-west of Spain, Galicia has a record of producing strong political leaders. Francisco Franco, dictator of Spain from the end of the country’s civil war in the 1930s until his death in 1975, hailed from Ferrol on the north-western tip of the region. Manuel Fraga, a Franco minister and later long-time First Minister of Galicia, was a fierce Galician. Current Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was born in the region, as was the father of Cuba’s Fidel and Raúl Castro.

A more familiar stereotype of Galicians is that they are indecisive, and it is this characteristic which has extended across the Spanish electorate – if not the politicians – today. All the talk going into last December’s election was about the effect of two insurgent parties: far-left Podemos (“We Can”) and centre-right Ciudadanos (“Citizens”). Set up in the last few years, these parties threatened to break the stranglehold on Spanish politics – since the 1980s the centre-right Partido Popular (Peoples’ Party) and the centre-left PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) have swapped power every decade or so. Continue reading Spain votes again