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The Spectator podcast: The great French collapse

The Spectator podcast: The great French collapse
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On this week’s episode, we consider Marine Le Pen’s path to power in France, whether we allow posh people to bluff their way to success, and why men aren’t 'lunging' at women in Ubers.

The first round of the French presidential election will be held at the end of April, and, after a turbulent couple of months that has seen establishment candidates dropping like, well, establishment candidates, the polls favour a run-off between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen. Macron, a 39-year-old independent candidate seen as another ‘heir to Blair’, is all that stands between the Front National and government, a terrifying prospect for liberal France. In this week’s magazine, Professor Robert Tombs writes about Marine Le Pen’s steady march towards office and he joins the podcast along with Amandine Alexandre, a French journalist based in London.

In this week's magazine, Robert Tombs writes:

"Is France on the brink of a political revolution? Already, four established candidates for the presidency — two former presidents and two former prime ministers — have backed out or been rejected by the voters, and another, François Fillon, is on the ropes. The campaign is being taken over by outsiders, principally the Front National’s Marine Le Pen and a youthful former banker, Emmanuel Macron, while the Socialists have chosen an eccentric radical, Benoît Hamon. Should we welcome a shake-up in the cradle of European revolutions?"

Next: have you ever witnessed someone get away with outrageous behaviour, simply because they’re posh? That’s the experience of Cosmo Landesman, who has been appalled by how Britain reveres its upper classes at the expense of basic manners and common decency. He joins the podcast, along with Liz Brewer, author of The Ultimate Guide to Party Planning & Etiquette.

Cosmo describes the horrendous behaviour of the posh:

"I was recently at a drinks party and saw a man scratching his bottom in front of the buffet table — a full, hand-down--trouser buttock-scratch. With the very same hand that he’d used on his bottom, he picked up a sausage, examined it and put it back in the pile. He then picked up another sausage and put it back. Then, after another quick bottom--scratch, he began to poke around the samosas."

And finally, in darkened cabs across the country, women are sitting bored whilst their male companions follow the progress of a miniature Uber across an iPhone city. Or so says Laura Freeman, who in this week’s magazine laments the demise of the post-date lunge in the taxi, where romantic gentlemen used to take a risk, safe in the hearselike distance of a Hackney carriage. Has Uber changed the game? And are our app-based love lives suffering for it?

On the history of love in the backseat, Laura writes that:

"It used to be that, after a date, a party, a play, a chap could prove his mettle by striding to the kerb, raising his arm and shouting ‘Taxi!’ in a firm, strong baritone. He’d give the address, open the door, usher you in, and there, in the alcoved gloaming of the back seat, he’d lunge. And so great London love affairs began."