The French debate

The debate between Le Pen and Macron was by all accounts fiery, personal and intense. There may have been less policy detail than some wanted, but the big divides over policy were nonetheless clear.
They both are running as anti establishment candidates who want change. That is more difficult for Mr Macron as he was until recently a Minister in the socialist government. Agreeing with his opponent that unemployment is too high and new economic measures are needed, he had to deal with why he had not done that as Economy Minister. He now wishes to liberalise the labour market, making it easier for companies to take on people. Madame Le Pen for her part wants to place barriers on the movement of people into the country and workforce, and to protect French trade and jobs by direct intervention. She was asked repeatedly for more detail of her measures and how they were supposed to work. They put the respective cases for a global and EU based approach versus a protectionist France first approach.
They differed strongly on the Euro and EU membership. Mr Macron is fully committed, and stressed the central importance of belonging to the Euro in his vision of the world. Mrs Le Pen argued that the Euro is the bankers’currency, not the currency of the people. She wants a French currency again.
Madam Le Pen attacked the powerful role of Germany in the EU and jibed that either way in this Presidential election France will be governed by a woman – herself or Mrs Merkel. Either when elected as President will need to construct a majority of representatives in the Parliament to help implement their programmes, which will make the Parliamentary elections most important after the choice of President.

Promoted by Fraser Mc Farland on behalf of John Redwood, both at 30 Rose Wokingham RG40 1XU

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  1. Richard1
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    What a choice! I suppose Macron would be the better, Le Pen may have moved away from the overt racism of the FN under her father but her policies are still a confused mixture of nationalism / statism / socialism. The overt protectionism & interventionism would be bad news for France and her trading partners. Its amazing that Nigel Farage, who was once a small govt libertarian, can now support such a candidate purely because she is anti-EU.

    Its a great pity Fillon didn’t get through, he would have been far better for France and for Europe. I understand Macron was at least a competent investment banker.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    The odds suggest it all highly unlikely that Macron will not win at 1/10 on. Not a very good choice the French.

    Allister Heath spot on today in the Telegraph:-

    Brussels’ mad attempt to force us to pay reparations will backfire
    The Eurocrats are deluded if they think they can blackmail us – Mrs Merkel must put them straight.

    Also in the Spectator by MARTIN VANDER WEYER
    Why binding shareholder votes on pay should be a manifesto promise.

    Better shareholder control of directors remuneration is very badly needed let us hope something is done to the shareholder control mechanisms.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      @Lifelogic; “The odds suggest it all highly unlikely that Macron will not win at 1/10 on. Not a very good choice the French.”

      Perhaps not, but for most people in France (those eligible to vote) the best they have in the second round. the right blew their chances at the selection stage, the left blew theirs 4 years ago.

    • Know-dice
      Posted May 5, 2017 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      I see Obama is supporting Macron, if the French are anything like the English then that should help Le Pen….but on the other hand…

  3. John Probert
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Madame Le Pen is partly correct

    Unfortunately Either way France will find it very difficult to progress

    What a crazy idea one currency and one economic plan fits all

    • Jerry
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      @John Probert; “What a crazy idea [the EU thinking] one currency and one economic plan fits all”

      So that is where Presidents and Capitol Hill in the USA are going wrong, 50 states with one currency and one economic plan. Obviously China is also doing it all wrong, what with in effect 27 provinces all sharing a single economic plan…

      • John Probert
        Posted May 4, 2017 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        The US & China are different in that they have common
        Language, social values and are centrally controlled
        European countries are all at different stages of economic
        development and require different fiscal stimulus
        One plan fits all was doomed from the start

        • Jerry
          Posted May 5, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

          @John Probert; What a load of europhobic nonsense, but thanks for your opinions all the same!

      • Know-dice
        Posted May 5, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

        Jerry – The USA wasn’t 28 different countries with 28 different cultures, 28 different history’s and 28 different languages…

        • Jerry
          Posted May 5, 2017 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

          @Know-dice; The logic of your argument about multiple languages suggest that the UN, never mind globalisation, would be a close to impossible feat to achieve, and certainly not in the real-time it is all carried out in our modern world.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      What a crazy idea one currency and one economic plan fits all – indeed and one interest rate, one central bank, indeed one country (yet with no proper central control mechanisms to make it work).

      But of course that was their plan – create the EURO then the members will have to slowly give all more and more powers to the unelected socialist, command economy, bureaucrats in Brussels.

      • John Probert
        Posted May 4, 2017 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

        Precisely that Sir

  4. ian wragg
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    It is becoming increasingly obvious that macron is the establishment candidate groomed to take over after a disastrous Hollande premiership.
    The people of France, my colleague included are crying out for real change nut he believes it will be more of the same.
    He envies our FPTP system which provides a choice and stable government. The French system is designed so the establishment wins every time.
    Perhaps le Penn will have her hour of glory in 5 years after France sinks further into the mire.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      Funny how those of the left, right and indeed centre all blame the electoral system when their opinions are rejected at the ballot box, they never seem to stop to consider that just maybe it is their own policies that are out of touch before mouthing off with their conspiracy theories.

      • Ian Wragg
        Posted May 5, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

        Typical nonesense as usual Jerry. The 2 round system will always give the establishment the upper hand.

        • Jerry
          Posted May 5, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

          @Ian Wragg; It is you who spout nonsense, otherwise how come it is Le Pen vs. Macron in the second round rather than Fillon vs. Hamon who are/were the “establishment” candidates?

          Had there been only the one round Le Pen would have still lost, and maybe by far more than the gap between her and Macron in the first round.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      FPTP is something that is vital to give firm decisive government. Thank goodness we still retain it despite Cameron’s referendum on the issue.

      • Jerry
        Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        @LL; It was Mr Clegg’s Voting Reform referendum, and had Mr Cameron not allowed that we would not have had the Brexit referendum – and most likely would have ended up with a minority Labour-LibDem (plus others) coalition government in 2010.

      • Tony Harrison
        Posted May 4, 2017 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

        FPTP gave us Blair Mk2 in the 2001 GE, when Labour gained 40% of the vote on a sub-60% turnout = 25% of the electorate. Some might call that “firm decisive government” but I have my doubts, to say the very least. The system is shot.

        • Deborah Clark
          Posted May 5, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          The fundamental problem is safe seats, giving the parties total control over the available candidates.

  5. DaveM
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    It does certainly seem – now that the Brexit negotiations are being discussed and certain things are coming to light – that all of the elections in EU countries are actually elections for a vice president or equivalent; their true President sits in Brussels and does not have to answer to any kind of parliament.

    The region known as France – administrative centre Paris (run by VP Macron and his PM), capital city Brussels. President – J-C Juncker (formerly the Mayor of the small city-state of Luxembourg).

    And so we witness the death….sorry, the suicide….of the European nation state.

    • Know-dice
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      That’s my opening gambit with the Lib-Dems when they come knocking.

      “So, you want the UK to be merely a region of the United States of Europe”?

      Followed by, “you have read the five presidents report haven’t you”?

    • ian wragg
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Well put.
      Marine said last night, “a woman will run France, either her or Merkel”, The EU really is morphing into the Forth Reich.

  6. Richard Butler
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Every pundit I’ve heard on TV and Radio this morning gave it to Macron, the unconscious bias is difficult to take. As with Trump / Clinton, they attend to evidence that supports their deep rooted bias, and filter out evidence to the contrary.

    There’s a gaping great hole in the UK current affairs TV/ Radio market. Same with social media platforms now being heavily policed to remove and discourage conservative views (this is the greatest story of the age btw)

    • Chris
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      I think your comments about social media platforms and conservative views are spot on, and are hugely worrying. If Theresa May were to go the country on the need for free speech and the abandonment of the cultural Marxist doctrine of political correctness she would greatly increase her majority.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

      @Richard Butler; In other words you dislike hearing the facts. Clue it is not the media saying that Macron won the TV debate but the over night French opinion polls – you know, the same sort of opinion polls that say the Tories are likely win here in the UK with an increased majority at next months general election…

      As for your rant about social media, yeah why not, when all else is lost, shoot the messenger! Social media sites police for hate speech and other legal issues, not for opinion per se.

      • Deborah Clark
        Posted May 5, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

        The same opinion polls that said Remain would win the referendum and Trump would lose by a mile?

        • Jerry
          Posted May 6, 2017 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

          @Deborah Clark; Yes indeed and didn’t the eurosceptics and right give the polling companies a hard time before the results of those two ballots were known!

  7. Anonymous
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Europhiles never ever have to justify *their* end game. They never have to explain what the completed EU is going to look like.

    Only Eurosceptics are ever given such scrutiny and here Marine Le Pen is on the back foot.

    The EU is blessed with being the default position – the new(ish) normal. The stable, same old same old.

    It is not normal and it is not stable. They don’t know what it’s going to look like fifty years.

    Well I do. Gated and Balkanised. A bit like Yugoslavia meets Ulster meets post Mandella Sth Africa.

    • Dennis Zoff
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

      A possible solution for a happy life….embrace the EU ideology and engage with their opaque future and enjoy a lobotomised lifestyle…no more whining; navel gazing; self-indulgent criticizing or high-stress levels, just simple bliss…..until reality eventually hits hard!

      As it stands today…..the fun has just started and history is in the making with an up and coming large dose of political rollercoastering. Up until now, (past 50 years) life has been pretty nondescript; based on prior European history….today supermarkets are full, more money in each person’s pocket, nice affordable vehicles, cheap loans, overseas vacations, better education for all and most importantly social stability!

      What can possibly go wrong?

    • DaveM
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

      I’d be inclined to say pre-Mandela if illegal immigration continues to be facilitated by the European governments.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    The Euro is actually the “lets kill any real democracy by having a communally run and controlled, multi country currency”, it is this rather more than a bankers’ currency.

  9. Antisthenes
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    It is very hard to to find leaders or prospective leaders who can string a number of policies together in which most are not totally inappropriate solutions to our economic and social problems. It appears they do not allow evidence and facts get in the way of them promulgating their ideologies however daft and unrealistic they are.

    France is yet another nation that is stuck with having two prospective presidents neither of which have the policies or acumen to govern her with any degree of success. Le Pen’s nationalism has merit as she has at least correctly identified a serious problem but how she wishes to address it only time would tell if she really has the solution. On economics she is way out her depth and is far more left wing than her opponent. Who has also correctly identified France’s problems in that area however with his socialist credentials hardly likely to be any better at solving it than Sarkozy was. Hollande of course just exacerbated them. On social and EU matters he is just a blind mad hatter and unlike Le Pen will be no friend to the UK in her desire to leave the EU. France has tossed a coin and it is tails(Macron) everybody loses and heads (Le Pen) nobody wins except Brexit.

    • stred
      Posted May 5, 2017 at 5:36 am | Permalink

      This is the assessment which accords best with mine, having traveled 2000 there looking for a retirement idyll.. We found nowhere. Macron is unknown to the French and the enthusiastic young supporters, like an estate agent we met, are being taken for fools.

  10. Paul wills
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    It’s all very well but isn’t madame Le Pen just that little bit too scary? Shes just too extreme for my liking

    Macron has to be the safest bet.. he’s moderate and balanced in his outlook and has respect for all, she’s a populist in the same vein as trump or farage.. just a chancer!

    Vive le Macron.. and vive le france!

    • Anonymous
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Le Pen ‘too extreme’.

      And here we are contemplating that she might actually rule France.

      Britain is certainly not extreme compared to Europe. Farage was never like Wilders or Le Pen. UKIP is not BNP.

      • DaveM
        Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Neither is the U.K. in the same state as Holland or France. Maybe Farage was the prevention we needed – better than needing a cure?

    • rose
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      I feel the opposite: Macron terrifies me. He is a no borders extremist and EU fanatic. He wants just one finance minister for the whole of Europe, to administer one tax system. (Can we guess who that might be?). Here is clearly intensely ambitious. He says there is no such thing as French culture. He wants a motorway from Algeria to France. Before he has even been elected he is threatening to punish Poland and Hungary, and any other EU nation which wants to preserve its national identity. He came over here and threatened to do us down when he had just been the guest of our PM. He is still threatening us over Brexit and over Calais. He seems quite tetchy and arrogant, and with those mad blue eyes he looks like another Bonaparte to me, but using 21st century methods.

      Mme Le Pen, on the other hand, appears as a Joan of Arc figure, desperately trying to save France from this ghastly fate. She may be rather left wing for us, but the French are much more left wing than we are and always have been. That is why the MSM and political establishment keep calling her “The far right extremist…” They don’t want France falling for her and leaving the Euro, and that is why they want Macron.

      Vive La Nation!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

      A dreadful choice to make, but on balance Marine is probably best for the UK, probably best for La Belle France too.

    • getahead
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

      Macron is a globalist.

    • Tony Harrison
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Are you a fantasist? Macron is “moderate and balanced”? He’s an EU/Establishment stooge posing as a nouvelle-vague “centrist”. His Presidency would be bad news for the UK. Le Pen is essentially a Socialist but she is the only candidate espousing a robust defence of European culture: one wishes our own country had someone with the courage and political honesty to emulate her.

  11. Stephen Berry
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    “They put the respective cases for a global and EU based approach versus a protectionist France first approach.”

    I must protest against this scandalous attempt to libel the EU as globalist. In fact, the EU is a customs union and employs a protectionist EU first approach, as the UK will be finding out during the coming negotiations.

    One of the many advantages of leaving will be the ability to buy cheap food and wine from around the world without having to impose EU tariffs.

  12. Atlas
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    If the French choose to elect Madame Le Pen then that would wipe the smile of the EU luvvies. (However, given previous run-off results, I suspect Pigs would have to learn to fly before that happens…)

  13. Javelin
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    You can only understand the EU when you understand it is a state pension fund with a continent attached.

  14. Prigger
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Macron wishes to do even more for female OAPs

  15. Julien Tabulazero
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Dear John,

    Mme Le Pen’s performance yesterday night was on par with Diane Abbot’s when it comes to “knowing what you are talking about”. It was a total disaster. It was a political suicide on national television. Not only did she come across as aggressive and statesmanlike but she did not seem to be even aware of some very basic measures that are part of her election manifesto.

    So it will likely be Macron and Sunday and as you know, he is a staunch europhile. This and what has leaked out of the May/Junker meeting leads me to believe that a hard Brexit is currently the most probable outcome given the wide difference in opinion between the British and the rest of the EU.

    For May, leaving the EU is like resigning your gym membership. For Junker / Merkel / Macron, it is an existential threat to the EU itself. I do not see how you can engineer a win-win situation from such a disparate start.

    As Jean-Claude Junker said: “Brexit cannot be a success”.

    Best regards

    • getahead
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Correct. Brexit cannot be a success – at least not for the EU.

    • Jerry
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      @Julien Tabulazero; Indeed, if there is any truth in the reports as to how our relationship is deteriorating with the EU, and now the likely outcome of the French election, the UK government should be planing for and assuming that we will leave the EU on acrimonious terms and perhaps even before March 2019.

      For those who might talk about cancelling A50 and just staying in, I think the prices would be to high for all but the most europhile here in the UK, the EU would demand changes in our membership – most likely our opt-outs.

    • Tony Harrison
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

      It’s nice that you acknowledge Le Pen came across as “aggressive and statesmanlike” – though you might have meant to write something slightly different… She fought rather well against the oleaginous, arrogant, content-free, EU-phile Macron, and came out with (as a Spectator columnist says) the best line of the night when she said that “In any case, France will be led by a woman: Either me or Mrs. Merkel.” Profoundly true IMO.

    • Prigger
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

      Julien Tabulazero
      “Mme Le Pen’s performance yesterday night was……a total disaster” No, not to someone who supports the thrust of what she was saying. Macron is not attacked, by and large, in the French media. So every “aggressive” remark Le Pen makes and, also, because she is a woman, is utterly revolutionary. At the end of the day, if Macron wins, he hasn’t a clue what he wishes and if he can get anything through. To be French President, she just needs to stay alive for the next five years.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted May 5, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the Brussels slant. Of course Brexit won’t be a success for the EU.

  16. David Cockburn
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    What surprised me was how rude and aggressive they were to each other. I’m pleased that British politicians are generally much more polite and respectful when they debate.

  17. Roy Grainger
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Macron is set up to fail. If he really does try to liberalise the French economy in any way the unions/farmers will be out rioting on the streets in traditional French best-practice and he will get little support from the major parties – he will immediately become a lame duck president.

    Le Pen’s economic policies are variously bizarre and socialist, her idea that the country could operate with two parallel currencies – the Franc and Euro – with companies deciding which to use is an interesting thought experiment but would surely be chaotic in practice.

  18. Jason wells
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I am not so pessimistic about the EU, i think that later in the year we’ll see a move to reform the eu commission, especially after macron settles in as president, to make it more acceptable to it’s citizens. This week mrs merkel has met with putin in moscow and i think that with the withdrawl of the UK from thr eu that russia might be invited in to fill the void. Russia, as we know, is very rich with vast amounts of resourses of untapped minerals and forestry etc. The uk should try as well to do a trade deal with russia on this basis

    • Graham
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      You surely jest??

    • rose
      Posted May 4, 2017 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

      Macron doesn’t want to reform the EU to make it more acceptable to its citizens. He wants to go the other way. This is what all good eurocrats think whenever the EU is under pressure. Verhofstadt is another one.

    • Mitchel
      Posted May 5, 2017 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Much more likely that Russia will invite fragments of the EU to (re)join the Motherland!

  19. John
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Just saw Obama pledging his support for Macron.

    Don’t they ever learn? Not a problem for me, afterall, his pledge of support to the EU helped us get over the line.

  20. Paul wills
    Posted May 4, 2017 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Just looking at david davis on question time and fear that we are sunk!

  21. Mark
    Posted May 5, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    The latest French poll is 62/38 for Macron. Perhaps more interesting is the early polling for the Assemblée elections, where from a standing start with not even any candidates identified, En Marche! are forecast at 249-286 seats, just shy of 289 for a majority, enough to allow Macron to govern with a coalition with PS while ignoring both LR and FN. Continuity Hollande may not be quite what the French had in mind, but at the moment, it looks like that’s what they’ll get.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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