Emmanuel macron

Bring back sideburns!

Our collective Man Card is on the verge of being rescinded. The number of lonely, single men is rising – and testosterone levels are falling. The causes of our macho decline are myriad, but a quick fix is at hand: it’s time to bring back sideburns. It seems these days that the only facial hair options most men consider are beard or clean-shaven. Gone is the cheeky pencil-thin moustache sported so dashingly by Errol Flynn and the devil-may-care ’burns rocked by Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. The Lionel Richies and Tom Sellecks of the world still play their part in the strong whisker game, but that’s probably owed to the same reason

Is Macron heading for his Margaret Thatcher moment?

There was a sense of foreboding in France at the start of this week. After the anarchy of last Thursday and the extraordinary violence in western France on Saturday, where radical environmentalists fought a pitched battle with police, what would the next seven days bring?  Much of the media speculated that the 10th day of action organised by unions in protest at the government’s pension reform bill would result in the sort of scenes witnessed across France five days earlier, with city halls torched, shops sacked and police stations attacked. Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the left-wing La France Insoumise, was accused by the government on Monday of tacitly encouraging the

It’s good to be back on the back benches

After the shale gas vote, I was literally sent to Coventry – to visit the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre. It is a remarkable facility that helps take batteries from development through to production. It means companies only need the hundreds of millions of pounds in investment once they have shown that their product works and is saleable. It was funded by the Faraday Battery Challenge, and I was there to announce a further £221 million of taxpayers’ money. This is one of the rather better ways the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spends money, while some of our policies seem designed to ruin industry. I am particularly concerned

Inside the Booker Prize

It’s been a great week for the powerful fantasies of fiction (see more below), but over the weekend no novel anywhere in the world could compete with the fantasy of British politics. Continental Europe watched spellbound as the Prime Minister and her Chancellor humiliated themselves and the standing of the UK. The reactions of the different nations were predictable, but none the less excruciating for that. In Germany, where journalists have disconcertingly deep knowledge of British constitutional history, the reaction was dismay, as a distracted friend inflicts yet further damage on themselves. As for France: King Lear is playing at the Comédie-Française for the first time in its history, so

Jonathan Miller

The murder of Lola and the failure of Macronism

Last Friday, a beautiful 12-year-old Paris girl named Lola failed to come home from middle school. Later that evening, her raped, strangled and mutilated body was found near her home in a suitcase. The police quickly arrested a female suspect, ‘Dahbia B’, aged 24, whom they initially described as mentally ill. It then emerged that she was Algerian and was in an ‘irregular situation’ in France. And then that other Algerian migrants had also been arrested. As far as can be determined, on the day of the killing, ‘Dahbia B’ apparently waited for Lola to return home from school, seized her and took her to her sister’s apartment. The killing

Dress like Macron to cut your energy bills

The French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has urged civil servants to trade shirts and ties for woollen polo necks under their suits. It’s part of a drive to heat ministries to no warmer than 19°C – a policy that is compulsory in all government buildings except hospitals and care homes. French petit fonctionnaires can take inspiration from President Emmanuel Macron, who has been leading by example in a classic black polo neck. Ca chauffe! Le Maire’s suggestion has been criticised right and left. The leader of the opposition, Marine Le Pen, tweeted ‘Don’t have enough heating? Let them wear cashmere’, and Gaspard Gantzer, a former adviser to the socialist

Marine Le Pen wants France to become the next Sweden

While Emmanuel Macron spent Sunday in London honouring the memory of the late Queen Elizabeth, Marine Le Pen marked her return from a summer break with an address to the party faithful in the south of France. Buoyed by the success of the Swedish right in last week’s election, and anticipating a similar result on Sunday when the Italians go to the polls, Le Pen attributed what she called a ‘patriotic wave’ sweeping the continent to the EU’s failure to tackle mass immigration in the last decade. In the opinion of Le Pen no one embodies this failure more than Macron. Last Thursday the president told an assembly of prefects

Trump and the art of compromising material

When the FBI raided Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, they found a file titled ‘Info re: President of France’. Many have speculated (with no little encouragement from Trump himself) that it contains illicit details of Emmanuel Macron’s sex life.  Whatever the truth about this particular cache, political kompromat has long been a source of great drama – both on and off screen. Some bring it upon themselves – Gary Hart blew his chances of securing the US Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 by inviting reporters to dig up dirt on him (‘Follow me around, put a tail on me. You’d be very bored’). They promptly did – and the events surrounding the 51-year-old

What kompromat does Trump have on Macron?

Did Donald Trump have kompromat on Emmanuel Macron within the secret files seized by the FBI from his Mar-a-Lago Xanadu? One of the files is known to have been titled ‘Info re: President of France’. And Trump is known to have bragged for years that he knew details of Macron’s sex life. Well, possibly. There’s plenty of circumstantial evidence to suggest that Macron is not entirely conventional in the sexuality department, not least in his marriage to his former drama teacher, 25 years his senior. Early in his presidency, Macron himself weirdly volunteered that his former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla was ‘not my boyfriend’ Maybe the spooks of the CIA are

My debt to Boris Johnson

Back in 1997 when I was narked on by a fellow journalist (Simon Walters, currently of the Times, then of the Express) for taking class As on the Prime Minister’s press plane, I sought to restore my reputation by giving an interview to a maverick young libertarian on the Telegraph. Boris Johnson wrote up our encounter favourably, along the classic out-of-Alexander-Pope-by-way-of-William-Rees-Mogg lines of ‘Who breaks a butterfly on a wheel?’ and ever since then I’ve found it hard to think altogether badly of him. Anyway, leaving the country last week, and with it a Tory party as self-obsessed and self-deluding as any junkie, it occurred to me it was time

Don’t bet against Emmanuel Macron

It’s nice to be back on the old continent again, especially after getting within a couple of hundred yards of the phoniest bunch of Hollywood East types, fakes with names such as Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff and their ilk. It meant that I flew out of the Bagel without mixed feelings for a change. America has become unrecognisable, a violent land where a Democratic Congress winks at riots and intimidations by the left, and where career criminals are seen as victims. It is a place in which one’s livelihood can end with one slip of the tongue. And they call it a free country. Over here, in lefty old London, everyone’s

Boris is falling into the Macron trap

You can’t blame Boris Johnson for jetting off to Kyiv last week for another meet-and-greet session with Volodymyr Zelensky. He got a warmer reception from the Ukrainian President than he would have in Doncaster, the town he snubbed in order to grandstand on the international stage. Johnson was scheduled to have made an appearance at the conference of northern Conservatives, where organisers had hoped he would woo Red Wall voters by explaining how, two and a half years after they loaned him their vote, he intends to ‘level up’ their town. But to the consternation of many MPs, Johnson decided he had more important issues on the other side of

Macron vs the deep state

French diplomats are on strike today. But will anyone notice? Not to be immodest, I am especially well qualified to comment on French diplomacy. Some time ago, between gigs in Washington DC, I was employed as a consultant by the French embassy there. The embassy is a modern building in Georgetown, conveniently near all the best restaurants, although the food at the embassy itself was both fabulous and cheaper than McDonalds. The wine list was, obviously, exceptional. I was not allowed to see deeply into the embassy’s most sensitive operations (there was a mysterious wing that seemed to be entirely occupied by spooks) but must admit that in the scientific

Blair is wrong: the future of Britain shouldn’t involve Macron

Tony Blair believes the way forward for Britain is to seek guidance from Emmanuel Macron. The former British prime minister has a reputation for outlandish claims but the suggestion that the United Kingdom can benefit from pearls of wisdom proffered by the most divisive president in the history of the Fifth Republic is baffling even by Blair’s standards. According to Politico, Blair will host a Future of Britain conference on June 30, which is a collaboration between his eponymous Institute and the Britain Project, a centrist think tank that was established in the wake of the 2019 general election and which is described by Politico as the ‘British version of

Stop calling Putin! Macron appears to be scolded by the Estonian PM

For a man who likes to present himself as a Jupiter-like statesman, gliding across the world stage, Emmanuel Macron’s efforts at diplomacy have fallen remarkably flat in recent months. While Britain spent the weeks before the Russian invasion of Ukraine shifting weapons to Kyiv – to demonstrable effect now – Macron instead responded to the troop build-up by going on a doomed diplomatic mission to Moscow. Unsurprisingly, his face to face with Putin, across an absurdly long table in the Kremlin, did not work out. Undeterred, Macron has spent the weeks following the invasion keeping up a close relationship with Putin, and has spoken a number of times to the bloated

Can anyone stop Emmanuel Macron?

If they weren’t insufficiently weary of politicians, the French will be invited to vote all over again for the Assemblée Nationale, the nation’s parliament, on 12 and 19 June. Citizen lassitude notwithstanding, the election may produce a louder, if not assuredly more effective, opposition to the prolongated reign of the second Sun King, the newly reelected President Emmanuel Macron. When fresh-faced Macron was first elected in 2017 in a stonking landslide, his portmanteau political movement, La République En Marche!, went on to win a commanding presidential majority in the National Assembly elections that followed. This bloc of deputies has loyally enabled Macron ever since – though the deputies themselves have

Forget Le Pen 2027

If Emmanuel Macron has any sense he will be back in the office this morning. Sunday night’s celebratory shindig was good while it lasted but the Fifth Republic has never faced such a parlous future, either socially or economically. One can only hope that the attack on a priest in a Nice church on Sunday morning, barely mentioned by the media, is not a harbinger of things to come for Macron’s second term. Of more general concern for France is the economic situation. Everything is rising, from the cost of petrol to the price of a baguette, and the war in Ukraine will only deepen the crisis in the months

Narcissist vs fantasist: France’s gruesome choice

Something strange is happening in advanced western democracies. In America and France, voters keep finding themselves choosing between candidates for whom they have very little affection. In America, we saw Clinton vs Trump, followed by Biden vs Trump. And in France this week, we have Macron vs Le Pen again. As many French voters now say, this is a choice between la peste (plague) et le choléra. Emmanuel Macron is disliked: arrogant and narcissistic to the point where he has compared himself to Jupiter, king of the gods. He has spent five years insulting and patronising voters and delivering mediocre results. His management of the epidemic was repressive and absurdist.

Le Pen drives Paris mad. That’s why her voters love her

When asked to define Marine Le Pen in a single word, a majority of French people came up with ‘cats’ rather than ‘extreme-right’. In the past five years, she has worked hard at ‘detoxifying’ her brand. She softened her platform so that she no longer advocates Frexit or even leaving the Euro. Unlike Eric Zemmour, the former Le Figaro columnist, she insisted Islam was compatible with the values of the Republic. It’s Islamism that isn’t, she said.  Having fired her then-85-year-old father for anti-Semitism in 2015, she tried to reshape the old Front National. She changed the party name in 2018 (to Rassemblement National or National Rally). Throughout, everyone including her

The French election should be a warning for Boris

In just over a week’s time, Emmanuel Macron will most likely win a second term. He has the opponent he wants in Marine Le Pen, whom he believes will be too unpalatable for the French people. He hopes voters will fear that, unlike in 2017, she has a reasonable chance of victory – polls show just a few percentage points between the two candidates – and be persuaded to vote for him instead. If Macron’s strategy succeeds and he returns to power, it may seem as if nothing has changed in French, and indeed European, politics. But even if Macron sees off a populist challenger for the second time, a