The Party

octobre 24th, 2022

Had in 2015 some imaginative TV drama writer pitched to a network producer the idea of a new political drama called ‘The Party,’ with plot lines similar to those which real British politics has been following these last few years, they’d have been shown the door for it being too ridiculous.

Or, had the producer had the courage to give it a go, after the first few seasons of gripping drama along the Brexit lines, with viewing figures through the roof, this current season 7 would see viewing figures falling off a cliff. The public would be quite simply saying that the show had descended into an unbelievable farce.

The newly elected PM, Beth Druss’s tenure in the top role would have barely lasted two Sunday omnibus episodes. Now her predecessor Harris Jackson, the loveable rogue fired in disgrace at the end of the season 6 is plotting a surprise comeback:  promising yet again to ‘get the job done!’

Only this time he needs to face down his old partner and now arch enemy, the sleek Dishi  Punak, who is pitching his case as the only one competent enough to save the country from economic disaster, despite having been categorically rejected in the election one month earlier.

Like the falling imaginary viewing figures, it seems that the latest real life opinion polls have helped push the current Conservative Party into an absolute panicked frenzy; with an ever-aghast public looking on in amazement, bewilderment, and down-right disgust.

And as the real-life farce continues, it is starting to seem ever so plausible that by the end of this week the Conservative Party members will have had a new leader thrust upon them. This  the man that they categorically rejected less than two months prior.

Leading up to this latest sensation, it was also feasible that the members would have had a choice being either former PM Boris Johnson and former Chancellor, and defeated leadership candidate from the last election, Rishi Sunak.

Neither Boris Johnson nor Rishi Sunak should replace Liz Truss as PM, plain and simple.

Firstly, Boris Johnson. The public at large no longer appreciate him. They see him as a two-faced liar. He’s misled parliament, received police fines for breaking his own lockdown rules and after a succession of further missteps and bad falls, was rightly booted out on his ears (although he technically resigned.)

How he could believe the public would so quickly forgive him for those errors is frankly beyond comprehension. It borders on delusion. He has no moral authority to govern. The Conservative Party is in the business of winning elections, and with Boris back in charge they simply would not.

Seemingly oblivious to this, if we are to believe what we read  he nevertheless was able to gather the 100 nominations from MPs required to stand in the election. However, as the cold light of day dawned upon him he realised that keeping the fragile Conservative Party coalition together was impossible. Resignations and floor crossings were already being threatened should he return. So in these crazy political times that he would have found  himself without a majority to govern with, even potentially not enough MPs wanting to be in government with him.

So we turn now to Rishi Sunak. For many, the man responsible for Boris Johnson’s downfall. How arrogant can one man be that he can believe that only he can be the one to unite the Conservative Party, unite the country and solve its problems when, only one month earlier, he lost against Liz Truss in the last leadership election? It’s incomprehensible.

Rishi lost for two reasons. Firstly, Liz Truss offered solutions to the current economic malaise that Rishi did not. Truss’ error was in going too far and much too fast. Rishi’s policies lack appeal. Plainly, the membership do not want him. He is a numbers man. And members fail to see a difference between him and Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

After 13 years of Conservative rule, it would seem that we are on the cusp of austerity 2.0 in totally different economic circumstances, and there is no broad appeal for this across the country. So, plainly, if Rishi’s policies lack appeal with the Conservative Party members, they certainly would not wash with the broader public.

Secondly, seen as instrumental in Boris Johnson’s downfall, many Party members just won’t vote for him. ‘He who wields the knife can never wear the crown.’ Whilst a cliché, this acts as a guide to our instinct, relating to propriety and loyalty. Rishi is therefore forever tainted and should never become number one as a result.

Now having stood and lost too, he will forever lack legitimacy.

Regardless of this, it seems that Conservative MPs are now prepared to install their man despite the wishes of their membership; an act that looks bluntly like a coup. It shows total disregard and borderline contempt for the decision of the grass root members; those who pay their fees, canvass, deliver leaflets and give up their spare time helping get those MPs elected. It is, for many of them, the most anti-democratic action possible.

In what may seem a false equivalency, some members are drawing comparisons between this act and the parliamentarian shenanigans post the Brexit referendum. Others wonder how far the Party is prepared to go to ignore a democratic choice. This seems like an act of total self destruction.

What is a Conservative Party meant for if it can’t stand for the democratic principle, if it can’t believe in small state and low taxes, and if it can’t trust in its citizens?

As this blog is penned, there is still an outside chance that Penny Mordant can get to 100 nominations and force an election, but as the clock ticks and the seconds pass the odds are getting longer.

So as the probable anointment of Rishi Sunak approaches, with it comes the possibility of a Conservative Party wipe-out in the next election.

They don’t seem to have grasped that the public want more than balancing the books. They clearly haven’t been listening since 2016 and Brexit.

And whilst most conservatives believe in the natural  order of things, that come the next election in 2024 the Conservatives would have been in power for 14 years and it would be time for a change –  the British public deserve so much better than the current Labour Party offer.

This the Party whose Leader offered a second Brexit referendum after promising a renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement and promising to campaign against its own accord.

This the Party that would have had Britain join the European Medicine Agencies vaccination program, thus prolonging covid lockdowns.

This the Party that wanted to lockdown the UK for longer and more often than Boris Johnson’s governments, thus increasing public anguish and deepening public debt as a result.

This the Party that’s not able to distinguish between a man having a penis and a woman having a vagina.

This the Party whose leaders deemed it appropriate to kneel for Black Lives Matter, a political movement whose manifesto included defunding the police and ending the nuclear family.

This the Party that claims national pride yet has to print out the lyrics to the national anthem for it to be sung at their Party conference. Yet, this is the Party currently streets ahead of the Conservative Party in the opinion polls.

The Conservative Party should be ashamed of themselves. MPs would do well to consider all of this and do the wise thing – back someone else for leader than Rishi Sunak.

However, these are crazy times. I am not holding my breath.

Andrew Crawford

Secretary

British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP)

Elections Act 2022

avril 29th, 2022

The Elections Bill has just received Royal Assent and so it has become the Elections Act 2022. Among other things it removes the 15-year rule for overseas voters, so we should soon all be able to register to vote in UK national elections.

It has been a very long haul, but now we have got there!

Votes for Life receives Royal Assent | Conservatives Abroad

Can Marine Le Pen Win?

avril 22nd, 2022
Welcome to the politics memo of Matthew Goodwin, for busy people.

Can Marine Le Pen win? It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot at recent events in Brussels, Westminster and the City of London. Here’s a piece I wrote for my friends at UnHerd with some additional analysis for subscribers.

Whatever happens in the second round of the French election, Marine Le Pen can in some respects already claim victory. If the polls are correct, as they were in round one, then Le Pen looks set to win somewhere around 40-45% of the vote. While she will likely fail to win the presidency she will be able to saviour another prize: the knowledge that she has forever broken the mould of French politics.We can get a sense of the scale of what is unfolding in France by stepping back to look at the evolution of the national populist vote since 1974. The story is one of stubbornly persistent growth: 0.75% in the first round in 1974, 15% in 1995, 18% in 2012, over 21% in 2017, and, now, to over 23%. But even that is only a partial picture. Combine Le Pen’s vote with Eric Zemmour’s and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan’s and the picture is more dramatic. Together, earlier this month, they polled more than 32% — ten points more than what Marine Le Pen won five years ago and nearly double what she received a decade ago. Remarkably, they received a higher share of the vote than all of France’s Left-wing parties combined. This gives us good evidence to suggest that national populism is now fully consolidated on the landscape of French politics and may well be about to score further against at the legislative elections in June.
In the next round, on Sunday, Marine Le Pen is also forecast to surpass the 33% she won in 2017 by 13 points — more than double the 17% her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, polled in the final round 20 years ago. Such is Le Pen’s progress that were she to replicate her father’s vote, which stunned the world, then it would be seen as a colossal failure.Nor is she anywhere near as toxic as he once was. According to one Ifop survey last week, almost half the French, 46%, said they trusted Le Pen to defend democratic values (versus 50% for Macron). Other surveys during this campaign have produced results that are just as striking, including one which found voters were more likely to see Le Pen, over Macron, as « sincere », « capable of changing the country », and « courageous » (though much larger numbers also saw her gains as « worrying »). The key point in all this is that many people simply no longer view the Le Pen brand as being as toxic as earlier generations did.None of this was supposed to happen. One fashionable narrative during the pandemic was that Covid-19 would kill off populism as people flocked back to the old parties, the technocrats, and the experts. Take a report by the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, which concluded that support for populism had “collapsed” since the Covid outbreak, due to a “technocratic shift” in global politics. “Electoral support for populist parties,” wrote the lead author, Dr Roberto Foa, “has collapsed around the world in a way we don’t see for more mainstream politicians. There is strong evidence that the pandemic has severely blunted the rise of populism.”But the elections in France, and elsewhere, point in the opposite direction. In the first round, two-thirds of the French just voted for anti-establishment candidates outside of the incumbent president and the two mainstream Gaullist and socialist traditions which have dominated post-war France. Combined, support for the French Gaullists and the socialists collapsed from 54% in the late Eighties to just 6% today. Over the last half century, the French socialists — once the pre-eminent Left-wing party in Europe — have fallen from over 40% to just 1.7%. They are, in short, almost extinct. It is Marine Le Pen, not the Socialists, who can claim with a straight face to be the main working-class party in French politics. In the second round polls, while middle-class professionals break for Macron over Le Pen by a ratio of 63% to 37%, workers break for Le Pen over
Macron by a ratio of 66% to 34%.
.
Nor, for that matter, do other populists appear to be struggling. As Roger Eatwell and I argued in our book, National Populism, while the rise of these parties has raised worrying and important questions about the future of liberal democracy, they have also now become a permanent feature on the political landscape. In Germany last year, for instance, the Alternative for Germany’s share of the national vote fell by just 2 points to 10%, leaving it with 83 seats in the Bundestag (something that would have been considered unthinkable only a decade ago). In the Netherlands, while support for Geert Wilders fell slightly, support for Thierry Baudet’s Forum for Democracy increased, putting them both on 16% — an increase on their result four years earlier. In Norway, the Progress Party fell nearly four points to 12% but further south, in Portugal, the new Chega! (Enough!) Movement just entered parliament for the first time with 7% of the vote and their first twelve seats. In the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš recently lost 2 points but still polled 27% while, last month, in Spain’s Castile and León region, the Vox movement won its best ever result with 17.6%. Then, last month in Hungary, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz were comfortably re-elected with over 54% of the national vote.Further afield, too, 2022 looks set to reaffirm the existence of national populism, not push it into retreat. In November, at the US midterms, Trumpian Republicanism looks set to have a strong return. Joe Biden’s approval rating is now just 35% – lower than the approval rating for every other president at the same point in the cycle, with only one exception: Donald Trump. Today, nearly two-thirds of all voters say America is “on the wrong track” while the first polls for the 2024 presidential election put Trump four-points clear of Biden.Of course, there are examples of populists falling off the rails, such as Bolsonaro in Brazil, who is routinely trailing the Left in the polls. But when seen as a whole, and especially in Europe, the idea of populism being on the ropes is wishful thinking.The notion that Covid would kill off populism isn’t the only narrative Le Pen has overturned. Contrary to the idea, fashionable among liberal progressives, that populist voters would die out, Le Pen’s vote points to a new populist wave in Europe. In the first round of the presidential election, she polled ahead of Macron among everybody under 60 years old. The only people who flocked to Macron’s liberal centrism were the over-60s.Look at the polls for the second round, too, and much of Le Pen’s support comes not from nostalgic pensioners who yearn to return to the Fifties but younger voters, especially young women. Typically aged 18-34 years old, they work in skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled jobs in the new working class — in sales and services — where they have found themselves on the wrong side of globalisation, automation, immigration, and a new cost of living crisis.Ever since the Nineties, the Le Pen dynasty has been most popular among blue-collar male workers. But more recently it has appealed far more to socially secure workers on lower-middle incomes who are squeezed between liberal professionals and the unemployed. They are the voters, in other words, who are especially likely to feel they have something to lose, whether from downward social mobility, rising immigration, neglectful elites, or rampant globalisation, much like the skilled and semi-skilled workers who abandoned the Labour Party for Boris Johnson.Ask Le Pen’s voters to name their top concerns and they are certainly more likely than the average voter to flag their intense worries over immigration, security, and, further down the list, the need to control Islamist terrorism. But their top concern, by far, has little to do with cultural issues: it is their declining “purchasing power”. They are not only united by the sense they are losing out socially, being pushed further down the social ladder behind the new graduate elite, immigrants and minorities — they cannot even afford to tread water and stay where they are.
Amid spiralling inflation and energy costs, Le Pen is appealing to French people who were typically born between 1988 and 2004, who have no memory of her father’s toxic campaigns, who have grown up in a world where populism is entirely normal, not an aberration, whose young lives were defined first by the global financial crisis and then by the Covid lockdowns, and who have never known a thriving, secure, growing French economy with low rates of unemployment. Why would they trust the old politics?Many have spent their adolescence amid high youth unemployment rates of at least 20%, low rates of economic growth and, on top of that, some of the worst Islamist atrocities in Europe. Le Pen has deliberately tried to woo these voters in a way her father never could. Look at her policies and you will find the expected call for a national referendum on “uncontrolled immigration”, a rather vague pledge to « eradicate » Islamist ideology and its networks from French territory, to toughen up sentences for criminals and reinstate border controls and weaken France’s relationship with the EU and NATO.But you will also find calls to slash VAT, raise wages, renationalise motorways, and a range of measures for younger people — monthly training vouchers for apprentices, the removal of all workers under 30 years old from income tax, the removal of corporation tax for entrepreneurs under 30, the building of 100,000 new accommodation units for students, and 0% loans for young families to try and stop them moving abroad and to encourage them to have more children.This effort to connect with a new generation of French voters is clearly working. Already, ten years ago, in 2012, the French political scientist Nonna Mayer observed how Marine Le Pen had successfully closed the male-heavy “gender gap” which had characterised not just her father’s vote but support for other populists across Europe. Unlike her father, a former paratrooper who had shown little genuine interest in “de-demonising” his party and was, at times, anti-Semitic, Marine Le Pen made serious inroads not only among women but also LGBT communities who often perceive their hard-won rights are under threat from Islamism.It is this generation of voters, she hopes, who will continue to push her forward, irrespective of what happens next Sunday, and perhaps in the form of some kind of broader populist alliance at the legislative elections in June. Le Pen may not capture the Élysée Palace this time — but the question, increasingly, is when, not if.
Thanks to those who invited me along to speak at various events in recent weeks. It is good to see the event space getting busy again after a dismal two years. 
Contact Matt Goodwin’s Memo is sent fortnightly to 7,800 analysts, decision-makers, leaders & citizens. Feel free to share. Feel free to subscribe .
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As Ukraine is Dying…….

mars 25th, 2022

Monday, March 21, 2022
For decades, the Kremlin has accused NATO of encircling, threatening,
oppressing Russia… accusing the West of exactly what Putin is doing to his neighbors, who are not his vassals but countries liberated from centuries of Russian yoke.

BCiP member Evelyne Joslain comments on the Russian invasion of 2022.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/7jfeis2d41nnyg6/As%20Ukraine%20is%20dying_

WorldWatch%20translated%20by%20Erik%20Svane_%202.pdf?dl=0

Northern Ireland and the toxic legacy of Brexit

janvier 30th, 2022

By Michael Carberry

Michael Carberry is a British citizen and a long term resident in the south of France.

https://www.only-connect.co.uk/post/northern-ireland-and-the-toxic-legacy-of-brexit

Summary of Talk by our Guest Speaker Hervé Rigolot of the Mouvement Conservateur in France.

novembre 19th, 2021

Paul Thomson, BCiP President, has prepared his summary below of the talk given by our guest speaker Hervé Rigolot of the Mouvement conservateur in France, at our « getting together again » dinner event on the 17th November, 2021 after a long, virus-induced absence.

Retrouvailles chez Les Noces de Jeannette à Paris, le 17 novembre 2021

Conférence de l’invité d’honneur M. Hervé RIGOLOT

du Mouvement conservateur (« MC. »)[1]

Après un long hiatus dû aux perturbations Covid British Conservatives in Paris (« BCiP ») a tenu une soirée fort chaleureuse et éclairante sous le charme d’un endroit féerique, à proximité de l’Opéra-Comique dans le 2° arrondissement de Paris, où nous nous sommes (enfin) retrouvés, à savoir le restaurant Les Noces de Jeannette.

Après quelques mots de M. Raf PITTMAN, de la part de Conservatives Abroad, Jeremy STUBBS, le charismatique Président et animateur en chef de BCiP, a introduit M. RIGOLOT (« HR »), en vantant les qualités d’intelligence et de hauteur de vue de notre invité : en effet, nous n’allions pas être déçus.

L’objet de son intervention : la présentation de MC. ; et quelques réflexions « trans-manchiennes » sur les liens, et différences, entre les versions de conservatisme rencontrées respectivement des deux côtés de ce cour d’eau bien connu pour sa tendance à isoler le Continent.

Conservatisme manquant en France.   Contrairement au monde anglo-saxon ou à l’Allemagne, selon HR la France serait dépourvue d’un conservatisme politique (et pensé) bien établi sur l’échiquier politique et dans le monde des idées politique.  HR attribue cet état de fait aux divisions remontant aux séquelles immédiates de la Révolution française, et jamais durablement dépassées depuis : avec d’une part une tendance légitimiste, royaliste et à la recherche d’une restauration ; d’autre part une tendance dite souvent « bonapartiste » – plus autoritaire et axée sur la personne du « grand leader », mélangeant éléments conservateurs et modernistes ; et enfin une mouvance libérale (souvent associée au régime de Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) – avec la devise célèbre de M. GUIZOT : « Enrichissez-vous »).  Ces trois courants répugnent le plus souvent à faire cause commune, chacun se refermant dans un « splendide isolement » malheureusement assez stérile.  Un conservatisme constructif à la manière d’Edmond Burke, de Benjamin Disraeli voire d’Otto von Bismarck peine à prendre forme ou, s’il pointe le nez un moment (cf. le gaullisme originel) à se consolider.

Conservatisme enraciné dans le monde anglo-saxon.   En revanche, dans le monde anglo-saxon il en va autrement :  le conservatisme est une force politique et dans le monde des idées à la fois enracinée et dynamique – capable d’accompagner voire orienter (pour le bien du pays) les mouvements de la société voire de la science, de l’industrie du commerce etc.  HR fait référence à différentes figures – allant de George Orwell (avec sa notion de « common decency ») jusqu’à Roger Scruton, qui souligna l’importance de la culture et de la beauté dans la création et le maintien d’une société humainement accomplie – après avoir rappelé la différence fondamentale entre la « Glorious Revolution » de 1688, qui visa la remise en selle et la sauvegarde de droits et vertus très anciens dans la vie de la polis anglais ; par opposition à la Révolution française qui se faisait fort de repartir d’une feuille blanche (la fameuse « tabulas rasa ») avec pour corollaire la destruction tout simplement de l’existant.

Un pont entre continuité, respect de la personne humaine et réformes au profit des moins favorisés : la doctrine sociale de l’Eglise.   L’encyclique Rerum Novarum de Léon XIII[2] dirigea résolument la sollicitude de l’Eglise vers la question sociale – le drame de la pauvreté, du déracinement, de l’ensauvagement même– de larges couches de la population suite au mouvements d’industrialisation, de développement des villes et d’un prolétariat urbain, tout au long du 19° s.  Cette doctrine, développée amplement par la suite, permit l’émergence d’idées de réforme plongeant leurs racines dans le bon vieux sol chrétien de l’Europe.  Une réconciliation entre défenseurs d’un ordre ancien et pourfendeurs de réformes humainement nécessaire devient possible.

MC. : de la protestation ciblée à l’ambition politique large.   HR nous a raconté les débuts de MC. Remontant à l’époque de la contestation du projet de loi en France autorisant le mariage homosexuel. 

Même si ce combat a été perdu, la mobilisation assez massive et déterminé des opposants au projet a permis de prendre conscience justement de l’existence au sein de la société française d’une partie de celle-ci qui osait proclamer son désaccord avec des changement « sociétaux » jugés nocifs, voire constituant une véritable régression. 

Un groupe appelé Sens commun a été bientôt établi qui visait à organiser ces voix et à leur permettre d’intervenir dans les débats et les joutes politico-idéologiques. 

Toutes sortes d’attaques en bonne et due forme ne pouvaient manquer de surgir pour essayer de tuer dans l’œuf une telle dissidence.  Mais Sens commun a poursuivi son chemin, même après la déconvenue vécue avec le torpillage médiatique/judiciaire de la candidature à la présidence de la République de François Fillon. 

Depuis lors MC. a été créée, dans la prolongation de Sens commun, mais avec une ambition plus générale : donner forme à une pensée conservatrice à la fois enracinée et réformatrice (en vue d’une véritable amélioration des conditions de vie et d’épanouissement des citoyens – et de la société toute entière) – et porter cette pensée dans l’arène politique.

Mélanger religion et politique ?   Parmi les questions posées à la suite de la conférence : ne convient-il pas, notamment en France, d’éviter de rattacher un mouvement politique (car c’est bien ainsi que MC. semble se considérer désormais) à une religion, quelle qu’elle soit ?

HR clarifia qu’il chercha simplement à nous expliquer que des idées ou inspirations portées dans la sphère politique pouvait provenir d’idées chrétiennes.  Il n’a jamais prétendu que MC. puisât ses inspirations exclusivement à des sources chrétiennes.  Il en convint sans hésitation– et c’est une évidence ! – qu’il ne s’agit pas de prôner un régime politique confessionnel voire clérical !

Une pénurie d’offre dans la vie politique française.   Un autre membre de l’assistance interrogea HR sur sa compréhension du phénomène alarmant de l’abstentionnisme.  Pour y répondre notre invité a rappelé – pour le déplorer – les obstacles institutionnels qui se sont établies, renforcées et accumulés ayant pour conséquence d’entraver l’action des responsables politiques de la France.[3] 

Du coup le champs des possibles se rétrécit.  En caricaturant : l’offre politique se réduit à des nuances toutes plus ou moins conformistes d’une doxa que l’on ne saurait remettre en question ; et les électeurs se demandent pourquoi se fatiguer à aller voter – puisque sur les grandes questions c’est Bruxelles, Luxembourg, Francfort ou Strasbourg qui décident – en se moquant d’ailleurs assez franchement des velléités de rébellion des légions de non-initiés, non-éclairés et non-admis (dans le cercle des décideurs). 

Cette évolution bien réelle est préoccupante au plus haut point : ce sont les fondements mêmes de la démocratie libérale et de la souveraineté des états qui sont ainsi de plus en plus compromis.

Le temps politique : un horizon de trente ans ?   Clairement rejetant tout déterminisme dans le monde politique comme celui des idées, HR nous explique que d’une part il ne faut pas s’attendre à réaliser des changements majeurs dans le logiciel politique d’une pays ou d’une société du jour au lendemain – un horizon de trente ans devrait plutôt être envisagé pour bien ajuster une stratégie à faire évoluer les choses dans le temps. 

Ce qui ne vaut nullement licence à traîner, s’endormir ou partir s’installer sur la plage – en attendant paresseusement que cela se passe et se fasse. 

Au contraire : sans une volonté pérenne d’agir et d’aboutir, l’Histoire risque fort de nous laisser sur le bord du chemin.

PT


[1] www.mouvementconservateur.fr

[2] De 1891

[3] Le même phénomène se retrouve au R.U/ et dans d‘autres pays occidentaux.  Le gouvernement de Boris Johnson essaie d’y fixer quelques limites (par ex. en ce qui concerne les tendances interventionnistes des tribunaux – cf. la décision du tribunal de dernière instance en Angleterre rongeant les privilèges de l’exécutif par exemple en matière de prorogation du Parlement).

Operational Psychology and China – a view from France.

octobre 18th, 2021

The Strategic Research Institute of the Military School (IRSEM), which was founded in 2009 in Paris, issued a report on ‘Chinese Influence Operations’ (P. Charon, J-B Jeangène, 2021). Concerning this Chinese influence in France it’s overwhelming and worrying, particularly the threats to security and the economy which should concern the political elite.

I fully agree with Michael D. Matthews, a high-ranked US officer and psychologist, teaching Military Psychology at West Point, and with what he wrote in his book (2020) ‘Head Strong. How Psychology is Revolutionizing war’: ‘(…) the very success of military operations in the twenty-first century depends more than ever before on psychology’.

Also as a former French Naval Officer and Psychologist I discovered that Military Psychology and Political Psychology go hand-in-hand; it is called ‘Operational Psychology’.

Political Psychology is mainly driven by collective representations deeply grounded in an ‘basic personality’ (H. Deutch) as a norm to assess our own personality or other’s as westerners or easterners for instance. This feeling of belonging is also reinforced by familial, cultural, religious, ideological and historical representations of the motherland. The Operational Psychology may be aimed at using these representations to facilitate collective trust or on the contrary collective distress by the means of all necessary psychological knowledge.

However this viewpoint is still a controversial topic between civilian psychologists and military ones in our democracies. According to the American Psychological Association psychological knowledge should be used only for the benefit of human beings. It is self-evident in peacetime.

It is less relevant currently with China which plays out internationally the ‘game of Go’ as we’ll see.

Although traditionally the French culture in the military is reluctant to consider operational psychology as armed force, the IRSEM report seems to take into account this practice of psychology in modern warfare. Previously the psychological context of military operations (psychological strength and weakness of the target population as well as those of military personal involved in it) was seldom assessed as information of first value.

Moreover officially there is no task force dedicated exclusively to war psychology with ‘spin doctors’ (even the ‘Scientific committee’ for the sanitary crisis management has no shrink!) .

However ‘here we go again’ (Afghanistan, Mali and now…….Taïwan).

While I feel comfortable with the U.K’s envisioning of the geo-strategic horizon for 2030- 2050, based on the rise of continental power–blocs and their political influence (BRIC’s), especially in the Indo-Pacific zone or in Africa, I feel uneasy about the E.U. and French attitudes. Indeed, while the Royal Navy is already manoeuvring in the Indo-Pacific zone and Taïwan is ready for a confrontation due to Chinese intimidations, nothing significant seems to be moving in my country apart from some mixed- messaging as described below.

Indeed Matthew Strong wrote in Taiwan News (2021/10/13) “French Defense Minister Florence Parly acknowledged on Tuesday (October 12) that the country had sent a naval signals intelligence vessel into the Taiwan Strait.

Although Florence Parly did not reveal details on the timing of the ship’s voyage, the 3,600-ton Dupuy de Lomé was sighted in Guam in August and left Japan on October 1, according to a Naval News report.

She pointed out that the recent increase in the number of Chinese planes violating the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) has caused an increase in tensions that could have serious consequences. According to Florence Parly, the mission of the French ship should be understood as an expression of support for international law and freedom of navigation.”

Unfortunately, psychologically speaking, the ‘mixed-messaging’ is the worst strategy of communication because it conveys a conflict avoidance attitude and therefore a potential surrender.

It is how Jacob Benjamin understands the situation (« French naval activity in the South China Sea on the rise », July 7, 2021): « While it is undeniable that France was active in the South China Sea in the first half of 2021, it is important not to « exaggerate » these naval operations. First, naval trips do not really stop China or anyone else from expansionism in the South China Sea, although they do show renewed determination and strategic interest in the water body. Second, a country’s navy can be used primarily as a means of strengthening relations with friendly powers in the region like Indonesia. Third, the Chinese state has been relatively silent on the French crossings of 2021, especially in relation to Beijing’s sharp reactions to US FONOPs. France, like most Western countries, has mixed messages about China. Is there a trend of increasing French naval activity in the South China Sea? Yes, but it is important not to overestimate this evolution’.

Meanwhile China is determined in its use of operational psychology as an armed force to deter or eliminate whoever is a hurdle for its hegemony. This is why I present a sample of both (i) a relevant analysis on China as a master of psychological warfare and (ii) the illustration of the French military attempt to stop underestimating psychological processes at work in the modern war.

A small but useful extract from the IRSEM report (‘III- Psychological Warfare, in ‘Chinese Influence Operations, p. 47), has been translated by me into English below. It’s short but summarises ‘Operational Psychology’ as the constant mix between psychology and war, as well as including a description of China’s current influence, viewed through the lens of French specialists (and their thinking mode). The whole document of 646 pages is available on open access on the web.

III- Psychological warfare (IRSEM, 2021, Chinese Influence Operations, pp 47):

 ‘Psychological warfare is used to demoralize enemy forces, to dissuade them, make them doubt, even terrorize them in order to undermine their capacity and their will to fight.

It is used to break the bond of trust between rulers and ruled, disrupt the decision-making process of the enemy country. In other words, it is used to defeat his enemy without even having to fight him.

Strictly speaking, psychological warfare is used more in wartime than in peacetime, unlike public opinion war which is constantly implemented, whatever the level of tension.

A work published by the APL distinguishes four types of psychological warfare:  » coercion « (威慑), which seeks to force the other to adopt a certain behaviour; «  the mystification ”(欺 2 诈), which confuses and misleads; « The division » (离间) in exploiting all the potential loopholes and dissensions within the enemy country and paralyzes the decision-making process, breaks the motivation of the resistance and the confidence of the people; and finally, « defense » (防护) to guarantee the morale of its own troops, when they are the target.

All these actions carried out against the ethnic Uyghur minority in China and abroad by the Chinese Communist regime are an example of psychological war as well as chemical one (but also a physical one), which might mainly correspond to the coercive type presented above.

Random arrests, mass internment, forced labour, digital tracing, frequent checks, forced sinization, “re-education” of children, destruction of places of worship, harassment, sedentarization

… ……the Uyghurs, a Turkish-speaking ethnic group predominantly Muslim, are the subject of violent repression, in the name of the fight against religious extremism. It is estimated that three million Uyghurs are now interned. Women undergo forced sterilization, and other “measures intended to prevent births within the group” which are part of the acts constituting a crime of genocide. The prisoners would also be victims of organ harvesting (as Beijing openly did on its death row inmates until 2015) used to fuel a vast traffic in « halal » organs destined to Gulf countries. There are many given evidences that prove that the Uyghurs are terrorized, feared that their slightest word or gesture could be used against them, do not dare to address and speak to strangers, do not know if they will ever be able to see their missing loved ones again.

Their fear of central power follows them beyond Chinese borders, even when some of them manage to flee to another country. This psychological warfare aims to force the Uyghurs to adopt the behaviour that the central power wants: to be submitted to it.

This example reminds us that the « Three Wars » are not addressed only by external threats: any threat to the Party, whether internal or external, must also be annihilated.

Another example: actions taken by Beijing to paralyze enemy decision-making power during the Sino-Indian confrontation on the Doklam plateau in the summer of 2017 is also an illustration of different types of psychological warfare presented above.

The Party-State has not hesitated to utter threats such as: « The conflict will escalate if India does not withdraw its troops”….“Indian provocations will trigger an open conflict”….“ The countdown has started ”, in particular via its media, the Global Times.

This newspaper also claimed that the Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj lied to the Parliament when she claimed that India enjoyed the support of the international community.

China did not limit itself to mere words in an attempt to intimidate its adversary: videos showing Chinese military exercises in Tibet, not far from the border with India, were broadcast; military equipment and logistics material have been moved near the conflict line, thus suggesting a possible escalation of hostilities; and memories of Chinese victory in the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict were revived to demoralize the fighters. The role that this psychological warfare campaign played in resolving the conflict remains uncertain and difficult to measure.

There is also a third example of psychological warfare instrumentalising the exercises of the Chinese military in the Taiwan case’.

Conclusion:

Nowadays there is no more a clear dividing line between wartime and peacetime. ‘Hybridization’ (Jean-François Gayraud, 2017) is the new concept to define our modern warfare (info war, terrorism, PMCs, …).

It is a cognitive distortion to believe that the nuclear threat deters potential enemies. The new target is the citizen’s mind with thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The goal is to win before any kind of armed confrontation and shape the targeted ‘public opinion’ to accept the defeat or to wrongly think that predatory behaviour is a kind of friendship.

Trust in our values, representatives and institutions is the main asset of democracy but also the central target of psychological war because commitment, competence, caring and predictability are hard to put together at the same time.

It is commonly accepted that when we are dealing with uncertainty and risk (Psychology of Risk, G.M. Breakwell, 2014), personality, motivation and communication are key elements in building trust and make resilience effective.

Conversely, operational psychology sometimes is aimed at putting people in a stressful situation by manipulating (1) the perception of risks (psychological framing) and (2) their feelings and emotions which are linked to them (psychological distress).

The “Asch effect” is a well-known phenomenon in social psychology based on cognitive dissonance: people have less and less confidence in their own perceptions. Prof. Cialdini studied the ‘social proof’ phenomenon which is a confirmation of it at a wider scale.

At the extreme end of the spectrum of reverse psychology, there is the « learned feeling of helplessness » (Prof. Seligman): people give up fighting or surviving.

This is what the Chinese influence operations highlight and it’s time to be aware of this strategy of psychological grip. The time has come to think out of the box.

Serge Giammertini (PhD)

Member

British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP)

NET ZERO BY 2050: A ROAD MAP FOR THE GLOBAL ENERGY SECTOR:

mai 27th, 2021

The Hydrogen Challenge – by Rodney Harper, British Conservatives in Paris

At the UK government’s request, as host for the UN Climate Change COP 26 conference in November 2021, a 224 page study has been prepared by the International Energy Agency (IEA), targeting net zero CO2 emissions & a 1.5 °C global temperature rise by 2050. This article positions the application of “green” hydrogen in the challenging energy transition to “net zero” outlined below.

KEY MILESTONES FROM STUDY  

  • 2021: No new coal plants, oil or gas fields
  • 2025: No new fossil fuel boilers
  • 2030: New buildings zero-carbon ready; 60% electric car sales; large scale-up of solar & wind
  • 2035: 100% electric car sales; 100% net-zero emissions electricity (advanced economies)
  • 2040: 50% existing buildings retrofitted; net-zero electricity emissions globally; phase-out coal & oil plants
  • 2045: 50% of heating by heat pumps
  • 2050: 90% heavy industry low-emissions; over 85% buildings zero-carbon

ENERGY WORLD IN 2050

By 2050, 90% of energy generation will be from renewable sources (mature solar & wind 70%), with around 10% nuclear generation and solar power the single largest source of energy. The remaining 20% includes other energy sources such as Hydrogen & Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) with Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS), new technologies still requiring proven economies of scale.

THE HYDROGEN CHALLENGE

Current production from natural gas is mainly “grey” hydrogen and the cheapest (excluding carbon costs), with China the largest producer & user. Cleaner hydrogen energy is called “blue” (“grey” plus CCS) & the most expensive “green” (via electrolysis & renewables), with water waste only.  There is a need for electrolysis economies of scale and hydrogen gas storage under pressure in heavy duty tanks, but ammonia is a stable, zero carbon, hydrogen carrier in liquid form. Hydrogen storage can act as a “battery” for intermittent & seasonal sources of energy but Hydrogen under pressure also infiltrates metal pipelines/gas distribution networks, the latter allowing only some 5 – 6% hydrogen blending in current infrastructure without upgrading. Gas turbines would require +30% blending for economies of scale.

UK GOVERNMENT POSITION

Currently some 75% of UK public hydrogen investment has been in industrial decarbonisation using “blue” hydrogen (and CCS), with a scaling-up transition to lower cost production of “low carbon hydrogen” (both “blue” & “green”) foreseen.  A pilot “green hydrogen” project is the Humber industrial cluster with a 100 Megawatt electrolyser powered by the 1.4 Gigawatt, Hornsea off-shore wind farm. For the proposed replacement of fossil fuel boilers for home heating from 2025 (IEA target) by e.g. “hydrogen ready” boilers, the government has pressure from environmentalists saying that electric heat pumps will be a better option for most homes. More densely populated Europe will likely have less space for renewable energy installations, suggesting future imports of “green” energy from cheaper sources with plenty of space and sunshine e.g. the Middle East, Africa, Australia, USA…..

Must Labour lose?

mai 20th, 2021

by Matt Goodwin

A version of this essay appeared in the Sunday Times

Labour’s humiliation at the recent by-election in Hartlepool is a powerful reminder of a simple point: there is no guarantee that a political party will live for ever.

Reduced to its lowest number of seats since 1935, plagued by infighting and now losing one cherished heartland after another, the strange death of the Labour Party is unfolding before our eyes.D o not let anybody tell you that Hartlepool does not matter, that it is “only” a by-election in the middle of a pandemic. The last time a Conservative was elected in this area, Cliff Richard topped the charts with Living DollBen-Hur was in the cinema, Winston Churchill was still alive and Tony Blair was six. The Conservatives not only captured the seat after being in power for more than a decade but did so with the sharpest increase in the vote for any incumbent government at a by-election in Britain’s postwar history. Hartlepool is now the 55th seat that the Conservatives have taken directly from Labour in the past two years, 51 of which voted for Brexit.

The questions that now face Labour have been summarised by one senior figure, who told Times Radio’s Tom Newton Dunn: “To be honest, the party is so f***ed it’s not really a question of what leader. It’s more existential. What’s the point of the Labour Party?” Increasingly, the idea of Labour winning the next election looks implausible while theoretically the entire rationale for the party appears to be slipping away.

For Sir Keir Starmer to win the next election he will need about 125 seats, eclipsing the swings that Clement Attlee and Blair achieved in 1945 and 1997. Labour needs to be 12 points clear in the polls, surging through England. Today, it is 10 points behind and losing England.This would leave Britain with the longest period of Conservative dominance since the early 1800s, before the onset of mass democracy, and cement the party’s reputation as the most electorally successful party in the Western world.

Ever since the successful rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme Labour has slumped in the polls and Starmer’s personal ratings leave much to be desired. After everything — coronavirus, Cummingsgate, cronyism, wallpaper — if you ask people who they think would be the best prime minister, Starmer trails Boris Johnson by an astonishing 15 points. Only this week, his approval rating slumped to the lowest since he became leader while Johnson still holds a 15-point lead among the working class.Yet leadership is only a small part of the story. Starmer, like Jeremy Corbyn before him, is the latest victim of a much deeper realignment of British politics, which is also unfolding across many Western democracies. Hartlepool is merely the latest episode in a much longer story in the restructuring of politics that is leaving Labour on the wrong side of change, staring into the abyss.

The Labour Party was built for organised labour, for a politics that was based neatly on “left” versus “right”, where people’s class loyalties did much of the heavy lifting. But even then, it struggled to connect with a country that remains instinctively conservative. Only three Labour leaders have won majorities at elections and only one was born in the past 100 years. Take away Tony Blair and Labour has not won a solid majority for more than half a century.This is why, in the 1960s, one unknown academic — Frank Parkin — suggested that the real puzzle in British politics was not why one third of the working-class consistently voted Conservative but why so many people voted for socialism, which was fundamentally at odds with Britain’s conservative roots. The only Labour leader in recent history to buck the trend was the only one who accepted and worked with this basic reality: Blair, who also shed Labour’s socialist clothes. And so its election record over the past 40 years, as Peter Mandelson pointed out last week, reads: lose, lose, lose, lose, Blair, Blair, Blair, lose, lose, lose, lose.

Today, Labour’s disconnection from the wider country is being amplified by a new fault line separating “cosmopolitans” and “traditionalists”, which has little to do with class and much more to do with people’s age, level of education and also their geography: it is values that are now doing the heavy lifting.Cosmopolitans are the young, university-educated, middle-class Londoners and university-towners who think that Brexit is disastrous, support rising diversity, are passionate advocates for Black Lives Matter and other worthy causes and lean toward feeling ashamed, rather than proud, of Britain’s history. Traditionalists are older, working-class, lack degrees, live in small towns and industrial heartlands and want to see a far more robust defence of the nation, its history and culture.

This rift is giving rise to things that we have simply never seen before in British politics. Just look at the last election: 77 per cent of 18 to 24-year-old “zoomers” voted for socially liberal parties while two thirds of the older baby boomers voted for pro-Brexit parties. Johnson had a 30-point lead among people who left school after their GCSEs, while had only graduates been allowed to vote then Corbyn would currently be prime minister.The Conservatives are more popular than Labour among people on low incomes while Labour is more popular among people on high incomes. The right is no longer the party of the rich and the left is no longer the party of the poor.

This shift has thrown Labour into chaos, not only because it has cut across the old left-right split but because the party spent the past 20 years investing in only one side of the culture divide. Cosmopolitans flooded Labour’s parliamentary party and membership.The much larger group of left-leaning traditionalists in the Labour tent, people who lean left on the economy but right on culture, were pushed aside. New Labour walked into the casino of British politics and pushed all of its chips behind middle-class graduates. It paid off in the short-term but set the stage for the revolts of the past decade: populism, Brexit, Johnson, Hartlepool. All of them were driven primarily by workers, non-graduates and hacked-off traditionalists.“Labour have taken people in Hartlepool for granted too long,” said the new Conservative MP Jill Mortimer last week, the first woman ever to be elected as MP for this town. “I heard this time and time again on the doorstep. ”There is no easy way out. As I explained to demoralised Labour MPs after the 2019 election, they are haemorrhaging blue-collar votes in the small towns and industrial heartlands to apathy or a Conservatism that leans left on the economy and right on culture, and liberal graduates and professionals to the Greens and Liberal Democrats.

Many Labour insiders have feared this nightmare scenario ever since the 2019 elections to the European parliament, when Labour was battered by the Liberal Democrats on one side and the Brexit Party on the other. The party, pushed on by Starmer, made the fatal mistake of falling in behind a second referendum and prioritising Remainia over Brexit Country. And by standing as Remainer in Hartlepool they showed they have still not grasped the lesson.

For the past year, Starmer and his advisers thought they could sidestep this deeper shift by downplaying Brexit and talking up the economy, competence and Tory sleaze. But Hartlepool has blown a big hole in the strategy. Johnson, the Old Etonian and Oxford graduate, is the beneficiary of the realignment, tapping into the “C2” skilled workers — factory workers, mechanics, plumbers and the “Greggs Guys” — who desperately want to believe in Britain and not be told on a daily basis they are ignorant racists.

The quietly impressive performance by the Greens this week is a big hint that we may well be heading in the same direction as our European neighbours, such as Germany, where cosmopolitan parties are eclipsing the old centre-left. Fast-forward ten years and I’d not be surprised to see the Greens or Lib Dems as a much bigger force, rallying zoomer graduates, middle-class professionals and city-dwellers in the face of a Labour Party that looks bewildered and lost.This is why some argue that Labour should cut the cord with blue-collar Britain now, rip off the plaster and turn instead to the emerging “Blue Wall”, more than 40 seats that are filled with millennial and zoomer graduates becoming more liberal over time and trending away from the Conservatives.

But while this strategy might be viable in 20 years, it would be a fatal mistake today. There are nowhere near enough of these seats to compensate for Labour’s losses in northern England. The reality is that Labour is stacking votes in places where it does not need them, such as London, while losing votes where it desperately does, such as Hartlepool. Here is one statistic that every Labour activist should keep in their heads: of the 44 most vulnerable Labour seats today, 39 are outside of London and the south. These are what I call the “Red Wall 2.0” seats and there is no route back to power for Labour that does not run through them and England, where Labour has still not won the popular vote since 2001.

The fall of Hartlepool, made possible by Brexit Party voters decamping to Johnson, suggests that at least another two dozen blue-collar seats could also fall to the Conservatives at the next election, such as Yvette Cooper’s Normanton, Pontefract & Castleford, where her majority has been slashed from nearly 15,000 votes in 2017 to barely 1,000 today, or Dan Jarvis’s Barnsley Central, where his majority has crashed from over 15,000 to barely above 3,500.To hold them, Starmer needs the modern-day equivalent of Blair’s “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”, a message that can cut through with traditionalists while not alienating cosmopolitans.

Yet spend five minutes on Twitter, where Labour’s “woke” progressives deride such moves as “racism”, and it becomes clear why Starmer is in a fundamentally different position from Blair. As Labour’s organisation has veered left, the flexibility that it needs to meet the existential challenge has diminished.There are simply no easy answers for a Labour Party that was formed in a world defined overwhelmingly by economics and class, but which now finds itself in a world that is shaped far more by culture and values, leaving many voters like those in Hartlepool asking the same question: what’s the point of the Labour Party?

Best wishes,
Matt Goodwin
Twitter – Website – Speaking
Copyright © *2019* *Matthew Goodwin*, All rights reserved.

“And be a nation again” – an independent Scotland is now inevitable.

mai 9th, 2021

As a Scot who grew up and spent much of his adult life in England and as a former British diplomat who has worked on European Community affairs, I read with great interest the two articles by Richard Pooley and Stoker about the merits or otherwise of a possible Scottish Independence.

By Michael Carberry

https://www.only-connect.co.uk/post/and-be-a-nation-again-an-independent-scotland-is-now-inevitable