Having said that, Marine and Manny still have ways to go before they catch up with our own Tony Blair.
This most revolting personage, himself a Labour politician, ever to reside at 10 Downing Street has called on traditional Labour supporters to vote for Tory candidates as long as they’re anti-Brexit.
That means membership in the EU – and eventually in the euro, which Blair has always wanted to join – is the only thing that matters to this Euro-spiv. Never mind all other principles espoused by the Labour party, objectionable though I may find them.
Why, some Labour voters are even patriots who don’t like the idea so close to what passes for Tone’s heart, that of the UK becoming a semi-autonomous province of Germany. And even those who feel differently still may take exception to the implicit statement that Britain’s domestic affairs don’t matter – only the EU does.
Marine and Manny still have something to learn about cynicism from Tone, but they’re able pupils, and the gap is closing fast.
Yesterday Marine issued an announcement that must have brought an approving smile on Tone’s shifty face. “National Front? Who, moi?” she exclaimed with indignation.
Rien can be further from the truth. Marine is no longer the leader or indeed a member of that diabolical organisation. She’s now just Marine, an independent candidate for the French presidency, one who – I’m paraphrasing only slightly – wants to raise her own powerlust above “partisan concerns”.
She stopped just short of claiming she’s not Jean-Marie’s real daughter – in fact, she was jointly sired by de Gaulle and Mitterrand on the wrong side of the blanket.
Jean-Marie must be aghast. Unlike his wayward daughter, he’s committed to his principles. The chief among them is that there was no Holocaust but, if those sales juifs don’t shut up about it, there will be.
But his prodigal offspring clearly sees her party, which after all raised her to her present position, as a ballast to jettison. If I were an FN member, I’d be upset.
This isn’t just cynical politics; it’s bad politics. Candidates may want to broaden their appeal, but while at it smart politicians avoid alienating their core support. To use the language of polling, breadth mustn’t come at a cost to depth.
Yet, rather than just alienating her core support, Marine has relieved herself on it through every available orifice. Naturally, she’ll try to wink at her fellow fascists and whisper that it’s only an ad hoc ploy designed to get her in power. But such a stage whisper will resonate throughout the country, and she’ll lose her depth without gaining any breadth.
Manny performed similar, if marginally less blatant, turnarounds twice. The first time was in 2009, when he ostensibly left the Socialist Party to continue serving it as a quasi-independent. The second time was in 2016, when he quit his post as Economy Minister in Hollande’s government, realising that any further association with François would put paid to his own political ambitions.
Unlike Marine, Manny has a record of having a top government job, which experience he holds up as a qualification for presidency. Nowadays people have an exaggerated faith in experience, but I’d suggest that no track record is better than Manny’s.
Under his tutelage, the French economy became a veritable basket case, featuring a soul-destroying unemployment rate of 11 per cent tout court and 25 per cent for young people. Manny also presided over an anaemic growth, exports stifled by the euro, unsupportable social costs made catastrophic by uncontrollable migration, constant strikes and riots – you name it.
It was under Manny’s expert guidance that Hollande introduced a marginal tax rate of 75 per cent, driving many enterprising young Frenchmen away and turning London into the world’s fifth largest French city.
As a fanatic of Germany-dominated European federalism, Manny supported – and still does – every harebrained economic policy practised by the EU, emphatically including its protectionism.
Hence he professed welcoming Britain’s departure from the EU because it spelled “the end of an ultraliberal Europe that the British themselves have pushed for, the end of a Europe without a political plan, centred on its domestic market.”
That an economy minister can be so catastrophically ignorant of basic economic concepts, not to mention political history, is most refreshing. So until our referendum the EU had had no ‘political plan’, Manny?
The EU has always had nothing but a ‘political plan’, which was communicated loud and clear by its founders. Jean Monnet, for example, explained that the economic jargon would only be used to camouflage the political goal:
“Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose but which will irreversibly lead to federation.”
As to Britain having imposed her ‘ultraliberalism’ on Europe, Manny clearly confuses this concept with protectionism. That’s like confusing communism with civil liberties, a debt-riddled economy with fiscal responsibility and Manny Macron with statesmanship.
Such experience is worse than none, I dare say. However, Marine strikes a less than convincing argument in favour of economic virginity. Her own policies, if they rate the name, would knock the bottom out of the basket into which Manny’s ‘experience’ shoved the French economy.
The only area in which the candidates’ credentials are incontestable is the stratospheric heights of their self-serving cynicism. Tony Blair may not remain unrivalled for long.