Emmanuel Macron has spoken of his fear of France’s ‘fragmentation’ and of the nation’s ‘division’ following the riots that reduced parts of the Republic to rubble earlier this month. The truth, as the president well knows, is that France is already deeply divided, and the fractures are numerous. As well as the topical one, that of the chasm separating many of the Banlieues from the rest of the Republic, there is also the growing gulf between those who prostrate themselves at the altar of Net Zero and those who are sceptical or downright resistant. And the French, being French, have never been shy in demonstrating forcefully their opposition to the Green zealots.
Ross Clark declares in The Spectator this week that England’s ‘great motorist rebellion’ has begun, a backlash against Sadiq Khan’s expansion in London of Ulez (Ultra Low Emission Zone). The English, being English, have so far demonstrated their opposition peacefully at the ballot box; according to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, his party would have won Thursday’s Uxbridge by-election had it not been for Ulez.
For the moment Khan is defiant, claiming that his decision to expand Ulez ‘was a tough one, but it’s the right one’. The London mayor is saying he is in ‘constructive listening mode’, but he’d better start listening soon. One wonders if the mayor of London is familiar with the name Benjamin Griveaux; he may not be because the Frenchman’s political career never recovered from an infamous remark he made in October 2018. Macron, elected eighteen months earlier, had announced an eco-tax that would increase the price of diesel fuel, bad news for those French who lived in the sticks and relied on their vehicle for work.
These men and women voiced their opposition on social media and on the airwaves, but their concerns were contemptuously brushed aside.