Archive for the ‘Welcome’ Category

Can Marine Le Pen Win?

vendredi, 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. 
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As Ukraine is Dying…….

vendredi, 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.


Northern Ireland and the toxic legacy of Brexit

dimanche, janvier 30th, 2022

By Michael Carberry

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

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

vendredi, 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.



[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).


jeudi, 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.


  • 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


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.


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.


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?

jeudi, 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.

dimanche, 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

Brexit limps on.

samedi, avril 24th, 2021

An April 23rd, 2021 « Brexit & Beyond » blog posting by Chris Grey , Emeritus Professor of Organization Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London.


lundi, avril 19th, 2021

In the words of the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage’s in his ElegyThe Patriarchs :

The weather in the window this morning is snow,

unseasonal singular flakes,  

a slow winter’s final shiver.

On such an occasion to presume to eulogise one man

is to pipe up for a whole generation.

Husbands to duty

But for now a cold April’s closing moment…

On the 9th of  April  2021, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Greece and Denmark, Queen Elizabeth II’s consort for 73 years, drew his last breath aged 99 years old.

 Prince Phiiip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1964, The National Portrait Gallery

 A door was closing on Europe and England’s past, as one of the most famous witness and protagonist of the twentieth century’s turbulent and tormented history had gone, a cycle was ending. It was poignantly brought to bear this Saturday 17th of April 2021, at the St George’s Chapel at  Windsor Castle, when the small and frail black-clad figure of the Queen walked out alone of the funeral ceremony, having laid to rest her Beloved husband, with whom she had shared all of her reign, leaving a letter on his coffin signed Lilibeth.

This man was a born leader, strong in mind and body, made to rule, Prince Philip, wrote his teacher and mentor  Kurt Hahn, will make his mark in any profession where he will have to prove himself in a trial of strength,  a Royal Prince of Greece and Denmark who chose for the love of a woman to remain in her shadow and to serve both his Queen and her country, which became his.

He was born in a privileged world still steeped in the 19th century, yet his world was shattered as a babe, and when his family was made exiled and destitute, after a loving infancy he knew solitude and poverty. His life circumstances taught him early self-reliance, and it was reinforced by his Spartan  upbringing under the guidance of the  educational pioneer Kurt Hahn at Schule Schloss Salem in southern Germany, then at Gordonstoun in Scotland, where Hahn as a Jew had to flee from the Nazis.

Prince Philip was a stoic, Mens sana in corpore sano, which he expressed in a speech in 1958 in Ghana : The essence of freedom, is discipline and self-control.  Princess Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in 1952 meant the end of all his personal ambitions as a naval commanding officer in Malta.  He would have to let go of his first love, the sea: It is an extraordinary master or mistress, it has such extraordinary moods, and of the privacy of his married life. From then onwards his life would be public, at the service of the Queen   and of England. By Royal Warrant he would have precedence after the Queen in all occasions, but no constitutional role.

At first he threw himself in a very active social life. His task as Prince Consort was not an easy one, his foreign origins, half German from his mother, his lack of fortune, his strong virile personality used to command, clashed in the hushed, privileged atmosphere of the English Court. His aura was that of a dashing adventurer not of a subservient cautious courtier. His equerry recalled: Philip was constantly being squashed, snubbed, ticked off, rapped over the knuckles… I felt Philip did not have any friends or helpers.  Yet he learnt to channel his creative energies in the defence of the principles inherent to his nature and enforced by his education, with honour and steadfastness, never looking back : There’s never been ‘if only » except perhaps that I regret not having been able to continue a career in the navy. His philosophy of life was thus resumed: The ability we have as humans to make our own moral and ethical decisions.

Beside his constant presence at the Queen’s side in her official engagements, state visits and world tours, spurred on by a high moral sense, he dedicated his life to causes close to his heart. His concern for the welfare of young people led in 1956 to the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, on the educational lines of his own mentor Kurt Hahn: community service, teamwork, responsibility and respect for the individual. He explained it to the BBC: If you can get young people to succeed in any area of activity that sensation of success will spread over into a lot of others. It encapsulated all his own beliefs and life experience in allowing young people the world over to involve themselves physically, mentally and emotionally in a range of outdoor activities designed to promote a sense of self-reliance, developed team work and respect for nature.  Over six millions 15 to 25 years old, some disabled, benefited from it over the years.

He was himself a great sportsman: he sailed, learnt to fly, swam and rowed, rode horses and drove carriages, he was President of the International Equestrian Federation, played polo, cricket and squash. He developed hundred of projects and patronages in relation to the education of youth, sports and the outdoors. He had a relationship to nature as a country born responsible gentleman farmer, fishing, shooting and stalking with a sense of preservation. He expressed it on the BBC: I think it’s marvellous we have such a fantastic variety of life on this planet, all interdependent, I think also that if we humans have the power of life or death – or extinction or survival – we ought to exercise it with some sort of moral sense. Why make something extinct if you don’t have to? And he became the World Wildlife Fund’s first President.

Early on a biographer wrote: He believes he has a creative mission, to present the monarchy as a dynamic, involved and responsive institution that will address itself to some of the problems of contemporary British society. His 60 or 80 speeches a year were thoroughly researched – his library counted over 13,000 volumes – and showed the wide spectrum of his interests, science and industry included, he was the patron of the Industrial Society, now the Work Foundation.  He was a visionary with encyclopaedic knowledge ahead of his time, denouncing in 1982 the greedy and senseless exploitation of naturea hotly-debated issue directly attributable to the development of industry… the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or greenhouse effect. He also foresaw the dangers of the white heat of the technological revolution, and the dangers of consumerism with its noxious effects on human spirit and integrity: ..;it is much more important that the human spirit should not be stifled by easy living, emphasizing the moral aspect of life, with the importance of the individual as the guiding principle of our society.

If he could on occasion be cutting and abrupt, certainly not suffering fools gladly, his sharpness was that of an acute observer with a wicked sense of humour, such as the British enjoy. He displayed it in 1957 on their first  Royal visit to Paris in perfect French – he had lived in France, and the Queen had been taught French with her sister Margaret by a Belgian aristocratic governess, Lady de Bellaigue – the Royal Family are great Francophiles. He talked about the French being grenouilles according to the British, but added that he would not say what the French called the British!   He was a very handsome man of considerable charisma endowed with great charm. He loved beautiful elegant women and enjoyed their company, having being surrounded by four loving older sisters as a child, even if deprived of his mother’s presence through her mental illness. He became the centre of the Royal family around which all revolved, a patriarch, my rock, would say the Queen, seeking to bring peace and harmony between all. During her painful divorce with Prince Charles, he tried to help Princess Diana as was later revealed in their exchange of correspondence.

And I owe to the Duke of Edinburgh the great privilege of being one of the very few women who have been allowed in the famously exclusive men only White’s Club in St. James’s in London. Prince Philip was a member, as was my husband, and on the occasion of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding, the Duke had it opened for the first time in its history to members’ wives, at a reception on the eve of the wedding.  The second time I would see him was years later at an exhibition at the Royal College of Arts in South Kensington, when I could sense his eyes following me around the room…

Prince Philip’s ‘The Queen at Breakfast’ (1965). — Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

The Queen at Breakfast, Windsor Castle, 1965, now in Her Majesty’s private rooms in Sandringham

Highly gifted and multifaceted, Prince Philip’s sensibility and creativity found expression in collecting works of art, developing his own photographs, but also as a designer and an artist.  He received tuition in oil painting from Edward Seago, a self-taught artist, and exhibited some of his works, among which many landscapes, as well as a famous 1965 intimate depiction of The Queen at Breakfast, Windsor Castle,  now in Her Majesty’s private rooms in Sandringham.

Prince Philip had a natural self-deprecatory style, another British trait, to make light of his position and achievements, put his public at ease and make it laugh, which is the hallmark of the British Royal Family’s simplicity and its utmost courtesy. He said with great sincerity and humility to the BBC what could sum up the exceptional life of this exceptional man: I’ve just done what I think was my best, I can’t suddenly change my whole way of doing things, I can’t change my interests or the way I react to things. That’s just my style.

He was one of the last Knights of Honour and Chivalric Duty, bearers of a European tradition that England seems to have preserved better than other countries. Much of it is of French origin and shows the strong historical and cultural links between the two countries. Such as the Order of the Garter’s motto, Honni soit qui mal y pense, or the sacred ritual of the Royal Coronation ceremony harking back to Charlemagne’s own coronation as Holy Roman Emperor and perpetuated by the French Kings in Reims Cathedral. And even the national anthem, God save the King, sung since 1745, comes from a hymn composed by Lully on words by the Duchess of Brinon to celebrate Louis XV’s return to health. It was sung by the Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr on the King’s visit :

Grand Dieu sauvez le Roy!

Grand Dieu vengez le Roy!

Vive le Roy

Qu’à jamais glorieux,

Louis victorieux

Voyez ses ennemis

Toujours soumis!

This motet by Jean-Baptiste Lully, was translated in latin Domine salvum fac Regem, and became the French royal hymn until 1792. It survives exalted in England to celebrate the British Royal family in its continuity Prince Philip has been one of its most eminent members, embodying in his long life the enduring virtues of altruism and dedicated service to a nation democratically governed by Consent.

Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

Paris, April 18th 2021

Global Britons: Understanding the unique British communities in Brussels and Washington DC

jeudi, avril 15th, 2021

This Foreign Policy Centre report focuses on two unusual but strategically important British communities overseas. It builds on the findings of 252 survey responses, interviews, a focus group and research to give a detailed summary of who the British communities in Brussels and Washington DC are, what their needs are and how the UK Government can better support them and other Britons around the world.