It has been a tough few years for Emmanuel Macron. Elected on a tidal wave of optimism in 2017, the famously fickle French public has since soured towards the country's youngest ever president. The 'yellow vest' movement, continued Islamist extremism and now the Covid pandemic have all damaged Macron's approval ratings, which have hovered around the -20 mark for the past 12 months. The French vaccine roll out has been plagued with difficulties – not helped by Macron's own jibes at the 'quasi-ineffective' Oxford jab – while last month an open letter was signed by a group of 20 retired generals and service personnel warning of 'civil war' over concessions to Islamism.
So ahead of the looming presidential context next April and with Marie Le Pen breathing down his neck, how can Macron best help his chances of re-election? The 43-year-old appears to have found a novel answer to an age old problem: inviting two YouTube comedians to the Élysée Palace for a private heavy metal gig.
The embattled president promised in February to welcome McFly and Carlito, two French YouTubers with 6.5 million followers, to visit the 300 year old palace if they hit 10 million views for a video promoting social distancing measures.
The pair won Macron's bet and thus permission to shoot a 36 minute video, which has so far attracted 10.5 million views in three days. The president and the YouTubers took part in an 'anecdote contest' to see if stories they told were true, with each being awarded a point for an anecdote correctly identified as true or false. Macron and the YouTubing pair ended up tied with four points each so they both have to complete dares they committed to at the start of the show.
Mcfly and Carlito will take a ride with the French Air Force’s formation flying team while Macron has promised that in a future televised address to the nation, he will put photos of the YouTubers on his desk beside him – classy touch. The segment ends with a stroll in the Élysée gardens, where French band Ultra Vomit perform their own grungy rendition of 'La Marseillaise' in front of a bemused Macron.
So will this latest cringe-worthy exercise pay off in winning over the French youth? Apparently so, according to recent polling which shows Macron’s ratings in the 18-24 age group category have risen by eight points over a month, to 51 per cent, versus a general approval rating of 40 per cent, which is up three points, in the latest 'Journal du Dimanche' poll.
Mr S hopes that here in London Keir Starmer's team don't take inspiration from across the Channel and sign their man up to a similarly awkward night of punk rock.