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Macron needs to be more like Thatcher France is refusing to grow up

A typical French Revolution (Credit: Kiran Ridley/Getty)

A typical French Revolution (Credit: Kiran Ridley/Getty)


March 27, 2023   7 mins

Five years ago, the only roundabout in my nearest town in Normandy was seized by people in yellow hi-viz jackets who had never joined a demonstration before and, in some cases, had never bothered to vote. Last Thursday, several French cities were laid waste by marauding gangs of young people in black hoodies – many of whom were not old enough to vote. My town in Normandy was completely calm.

In both cases, the principal focus of the anger was President Emmanuel Macron, accused of being arrogant, monarchical, aloof, cruel, sinister, brutal and unjust. Between the two revolts, Macron became the first French president to be re-elected for two decades.

The two rebellions inevitably tell us something about the young French head of state. To preside over one revolt may be regarded as a misfortune; to provoke two in the space of six years looks like carelessness. And yet the present crisis in France is not just Macron’s crisis. It is the culmination of a failure of French governance over four decades. It exposes the child-like refusal of the majority of French people, and most political parties, to confront simple demographic and economic truths.

The postponement of the state visit of  King Charles III, which was supposed to start last night, is not just a humiliation for the President. It is a serious blow to France toute courte. One of the world’s largest and richest countries could not guarantee a safe visit by the head of state of its neighbour and ally because of an incendiary row over a modest reform.

The twin rebellions of the Macron era — the Gilets Jaunes revolt of 2018-9, and the pension reform revolt of 2023 — have different origins but the same underlying causes. The Left-Right pattern of French politics has broken down and debate has been hystericised. The country has a political system and culture which at once demands, and detests, a supreme leader.

The protests in both cases have been piggy-backed by a tiny, violent minority of the priggish ultra-Left which seeks to overturn the state by injuring “flics” (cops) and smashing bus-shelters. The violence on Thursday night — 903 acts of arson in Paris, 441 police injured nationwide, 1,500 young, black-clad rioters — was significant. But not motivated by the prospect of working two years longer in the 2060s for a state pension.

The pension revolt is more conventional in its origins and its protagonists than the Gilets Jaunes rebellion as well as being more threatening and more dangerous — and not just for Macron. The Gilets Jaunes protests began as a violent awakening of a peripheral, rural and outer-suburban, France which demanded “change” because it felt ignored and despised. They detested all politicians and political parties and all trades unions. The tone was Poujadiste or populist Right-wing — anti-elite, anti-government, anti-state, anti-parliamentarian, anti-tax.

The pensions revolt is a more typical, latter-day French revolution: a conservative Left-wing rebellion against change by people who constantly demand Reform with a capital R but resist all reforms. It has been led by all eight trades unions federations and by the political parties of the Left. Marine Le Pen’s Far Right opposes the reform but remains cynically silent, hoping eventually to benefit from the chaos.

The one thing that does unite the rebellions is an exaggerated contempt for Emmanuel Macron. His predecessors — Messieurs De Gaulle, Giscard, Mitterrand, Chirac, Sarkozy and Hollande — were detested in their day. There is, however, something about Macron which provokes a deep and unreasoning hatred among many French people.

He is accused of being both an elitist and an upstart; a president for “the rich”; an autocrat; someone who despises ordinary people and has no understanding of their lives and how to speak to them. But every French president for half a century has failed. Macron has failed less than most of the others. He has reduced unemployment from 9% to 7%. He has started, tentatively, the re-industrialisation of France after two decades of rapid decline. The French economy recovered from the Covid pandemic more rapidly than almost all other rich nations.

The President’s insistence on pension reform, at a time of war in Europe, soaring inflation and Post-Covid exhaustion, was ill-advised. His decision to override a normal parliamentary vote to impose the reform (though perfectly constitutional) was courageous — but, in the circumstances, foolish. His reform, though, is neither. It is modest and sensible.

France’s life expectancy is among the highest in Europe. It works less – in terms of average hours worked by all adults – than other large industrial nations. The country has not balanced its state budget for half a century. Its accumulated public deficit of 113% of GDP is well above the eurozone average at a time when interest payments are surging.

The state pension system — actually 42 different regimes — is supposedly funded by the monthly payments of workers and employers. Its permanent deficit in the state sector is disguised by a 30bn euros a year “bung” from general taxation. And it is unjust. Generous early retirement schemes for rail, Metro and other state workers are co-funded by taxes paid by private sector workers who retire later on poorer pensions.

Macron argues that pension reform is the “mother of all reforms” — a first step towards increasing France’s capacity to generate wealth and to fund its generous welfare state without permanent, swelling deficits and debt. But the Unions and Left-wing parties and Marine Le Pen’s Far Right – and an opportunist section of the supposedly fiscally responsible centre-right – describe it as “brutal”.

Brutal? If the reform goes ahead (as it may) the official French retirement age will rise from 62 to 64 by 2030 — it will still be lower in seven years’ time than it is in most European countries now.

Unfortunately for Macron, democratic politics is not about being the cleverest boy in the class. You must not only have the right answer but also convince a majority of people that the answer is right. Macron and his prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, have failed to sell their reform. They have alternated between saying that the changes are “just and fair”, and saying it’s a painful necessity to prevent the state pension system from collapse. Only recently has Macron confronted the French with the most urgent reason for reform: the need to give France’s international creditors proof that deficits and debt are under control.

The UK Right will hate the comparison, but there is much of the Margaret Thatcher about Emmanuel Macron. He has set out to reform the country for its own good and against its will. Thatcher, admittedly, had much of the media and the House of Commons on her side; Macron, however, attempted to impose pension reform without a parliamentary majority and with little support in the French media. (The centre-Right Le Figaro is an exception.)

It is doubtful whether Thatcher — or Abraham Lincoln or Cicero or John the Baptist — could have convinced the French public that it needs to work longer to preserve its social model and its way of life. But Macron’s failure is striking all the same. In January, 66% of the public opposed retiring at 64; according to recent polls, the figure is now 73%.

That is Macron’s failure but it’s not just Macron’s fault.

There is a systematic refusal by a large part of the French public to accept that the country is living beyond its means. Macron reinforced their illusions by spending “all that it takes” to sustain businesses and individuals through the Covid pandemic. He spent another 100bn euros on softening the impact of energy inflation last year

The French economist, Philippe Crevel, says: “The French seem convinced that public expenditure has no limit. If Macron can spend 100bn euros on defence, why can’t he spend the same on pensions?”

This irresponsibility has been reinforced by the break-down of the old Left-Right framework of French politics. There is now an unstable, three-way division between a reformist centre, a populist-nationalist Right and a radical, anti-capitalist Left (incorporating the Greens). The parliamentary elections last June split almost precisely along these lines, giving Macron the biggest bloc of seats but no overall majority.

Both the radical Left and Le Pen’s far Right have incoherent economic programmes. Both campaigned last year for the official pension age to be reduced to 60. The Left believes all can be solved by “taxing the rich” and “taxing business” in one of the most taxed countries in Europe. Le Pen wants simultaneously to spend big, to reduce taxes and to cut deficits. All will be made possible she says, by spending less on migrants.

Macron and Borne had planned to push through their pension reform with the help of the rump of the centre-right Gaullist party (Les RĂ©publicains or LR). They might have succeeded. They constantly altered their reform to suit centre-Right demands. The party leadership promised its support. But in the end, almost half the 61 LR deputies refused to go along, motivated by opportunism or fear of their constituents.

Macron had to then use his constitutional power to impose the legislation without a “normal” vote. This special power under Article 49.3 of the Fifth Republic constitution has been used 100 times since 1958 by governments of all persuasions. So why the outrage and outbreak of violence?

Partly because imposing the vote fits the “autocratic Macron” narrative. Partly because leaders of the radical Left have been encouraging — and then partially disowning — violence for weeks. Jean-Luc MĂ©lenchon, leader of the biggest Left-wing party, La France Insoumise, spoke of defeating the pension law by “force”. Another radical Left leader compared Macron to the Emperor Caligula (whose interest in Roman state pension systems has yet to be confirmed).

The worst street violence in France comes from the shadowy “black blocs” of the ultra-Left but its dynamics are curious. MĂ©lenchon and other leaders on the Left vaguely condemn it, but delight in the sense of national crisis that it creates; governments condemn it, while hoping that it will scare the peaceful majority and reduce turn-out at demonstrations.

Violence — from the black blocs, from a radical wing of the Gilets Jaunes and from the police —  eventually ruined the Gilets Jaunes movement. It may also deflate the pension protests but defeating them will be much harder.

Macron could see off the Gilets Jaunes because they had no leaders and no clear demands. The anti-pension reform movement, by contrast, is well-organised and has a single clear objective: to kill the reform. In the past couple of days, moderate unions have offered Macron a route of honourable retreat. If he “pauses” the reform for six months, they will enter negotiations on wider reforms, including pensions.

Macron is unlikely to back down. If he did, the remaining four years of his mandate would probably be (international diplomacy apart) a wasteland. If he persists, it may also be a wasteland but at least he will have achieved his pension reform.

But, truce or no truce, the real French crisis will not be over. The underlying causes of Marcon’s twin rebellions will remain. The French political system is distrusted; there is no majority in the country for any clear course of action; the people are unwilling to be accept even a modest degree of pain or sacrifice to confront reality.

That is not just Macron’s failure. It is France’s failure.


John Lichfield was Paris correspondent of The Independent for 20 years. Half-English and half-Belgian, he was born in Stoke-on-Trent and lives in Normandy.

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Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

“There is, however, something about Macron which provokes a deep and unreasoning hatred among many French people.”
Not just among the French.

RM Parker
RM Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

True! Trudeau likewise.

Ian L
Ian L
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Wasn’t the word he used ’emmerder’? Well I hope he’s feeling that now!

RM Parker
RM Parker
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

True! Trudeau likewise.

Ian L
Ian L
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Wasn’t the word he used ’emmerder’? Well I hope he’s feeling that now!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

“There is, however, something about Macron which provokes a deep and unreasoning hatred among many French people.”
Not just among the French.

Lee Wood
Lee Wood
1 year ago

I live in SW France, am no expert on current affairs but observe whats going on. The author is wrong in suggesting the riots are led by ‘people too young to vote’ – people of all classes and age are in the movement. The author otherwise right – the people are unreasonably refusing a modest reform which is necessary. As he says – Macron has deep seated disrespect from the people. The logic doesn’t add up – cash is available for warfare and covid bailouts but not for retirement funds. The rich are still getting richer.
My sense is that the French know what is wrong but cannot overtly campaign for named problems. Retirement is an acceptable pretext even though it should not be justified.
The people know that Macron is a WEF puppet and too weak to resist the US military agenda (which nation IS strong enough ??) and is leading them into a program of de-nationalisation and techno-totalitariansim. The traditionalists resist change and have found a focus for their hatred and distrust. Chaos and regime change will follow.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Wood

I think he was saying that most of the extreme violence was coming from “marauding gangs of young people in black hoodies”, these were the one’s who, he said, were too yoing to vote and very unlikely to be concrned about pensions.

Lee Wood
Lee Wood
1 year ago

I’ve just searched into the Guardian link – there is no reference ‘too young to vote’; I’d guess these ‘young’ are early 20’s – but agreed, their primary interest is not retirement

Lee Wood
Lee Wood
1 year ago

I’ve just searched into the Guardian link – there is no reference ‘too young to vote’; I’d guess these ‘young’ are early 20’s – but agreed, their primary interest is not retirement

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Wood

I think he was saying that most of the extreme violence was coming from “marauding gangs of young people in black hoodies”, these were the one’s who, he said, were too yoing to vote and very unlikely to be concrned about pensions.

Lee Wood
Lee Wood
1 year ago

I live in SW France, am no expert on current affairs but observe whats going on. The author is wrong in suggesting the riots are led by ‘people too young to vote’ – people of all classes and age are in the movement. The author otherwise right – the people are unreasonably refusing a modest reform which is necessary. As he says – Macron has deep seated disrespect from the people. The logic doesn’t add up – cash is available for warfare and covid bailouts but not for retirement funds. The rich are still getting richer.
My sense is that the French know what is wrong but cannot overtly campaign for named problems. Retirement is an acceptable pretext even though it should not be justified.
The people know that Macron is a WEF puppet and too weak to resist the US military agenda (which nation IS strong enough ??) and is leading them into a program of de-nationalisation and techno-totalitariansim. The traditionalists resist change and have found a focus for their hatred and distrust. Chaos and regime change will follow.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
1 year ago

Seen from France, this is depressing. The article is protraying a reasonnably neutral and accurate description of the situation.

Emmanuel MARTIN
Emmanuel MARTIN
1 year ago

Seen from France, this is depressing. The article is protraying a reasonnably neutral and accurate description of the situation.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Right across Europe the middle class is living beyond its means – and has been for thirty years. Including in the UK. How many of us actually put in more than we take out? Not many – and that’s before we even consider the unearned property wealth, which is basically just another government handout.

Still, at least we still have our own currency and can therefore fix our problems. The French, Italians and Spanish don’t and can’t.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

ahhh… to much Earl Grey tea, Bristol creme sweet sherry, golf and masonic lodge subscription, and refurbishing the leounge methinks?

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

It’s the governments that are living beyond the means of the people.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

Et voilĂ !!

Cormac Lucey
Cormac Lucey
1 year ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

Governments are no more than the institutional representation of the people.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

Et voilĂ !!

Cormac Lucey
Cormac Lucey
1 year ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

Governments are no more than the institutional representation of the people.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The UK has many problems, but having its own currency is not going to fix them.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

ahhh… to much Earl Grey tea, Bristol creme sweet sherry, golf and masonic lodge subscription, and refurbishing the leounge methinks?

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

It’s the governments that are living beyond the means of the people.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

The UK has many problems, but having its own currency is not going to fix them.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Right across Europe the middle class is living beyond its means – and has been for thirty years. Including in the UK. How many of us actually put in more than we take out? Not many – and that’s before we even consider the unearned property wealth, which is basically just another government handout.

Still, at least we still have our own currency and can therefore fix our problems. The French, Italians and Spanish don’t and can’t.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 year ago

Perhaps had Macron been a more democratic leader, he could push through important reforms like pension reform with less public opposition, but France isn’t democratic. It’s a vassal of the EU, the WEF and the UN, passing laws as dictated to it by international organizations on “climate change”, covid and migrants in particular. The French people have learned that voting never brings about change. Their votes don’t matter, so rioting is their only option to bring about change. That model will soon be repeated in formerly democratic states around the world.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
1 year ago

Perhaps had Macron been a more democratic leader, he could push through important reforms like pension reform with less public opposition, but France isn’t democratic. It’s a vassal of the EU, the WEF and the UN, passing laws as dictated to it by international organizations on “climate change”, covid and migrants in particular. The French people have learned that voting never brings about change. Their votes don’t matter, so rioting is their only option to bring about change. That model will soon be repeated in formerly democratic states around the world.

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan Dale
Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago

The Gilets Jaunes protest was against an authoritarian, anti-scientific, woke nonsense that forces common people to pay taxes to support the rich (global warming mountebanks). Bravo!
The pension protest is simply lazy, irrational whining.
That Macron could get both wrong says a lot.

Terry M
Terry M
1 year ago

The Gilets Jaunes protest was against an authoritarian, anti-scientific, woke nonsense that forces common people to pay taxes to support the rich (global warming mountebanks). Bravo!
The pension protest is simply lazy, irrational whining.
That Macron could get both wrong says a lot.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

If the French Government needs to do a ‘Thatcher’ then they should have started pension reform in the 1980s. I know that that is not possible now but the current situation reminds me of the financial perils of Greece – too much benefit and not enough contribution.
French pension reform seems necessary… but to bring it in by fiat seems unnecessarily provocative.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

If the French Government needs to do a ‘Thatcher’ then they should have started pension reform in the 1980s. I know that that is not possible now but the current situation reminds me of the financial perils of Greece – too much benefit and not enough contribution.
French pension reform seems necessary… but to bring it in by fiat seems unnecessarily provocative.

Reginald Duquesnoy
Reginald Duquesnoy
1 year ago

I understand why I have not read The Independent for ages. Where does this correspondent crawl out from?
First of all it is not la France tout courte, mais La France tout court. Confusion des genres! And as we say locally, si ma tante en avait, elle serait mon oncle! Thus the comparison between Thatcher and Micronus totally misses the point. In fact it is totally “invertie”. She most likely had them…as to her alter ego, I can’t even say that the jury is still out.
OĂč la libido va-t-elle se nicher?

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

An he is not even from Stoke-on-Trent you know

Louie Betty
Louie Betty
1 year ago

Right, tout court in this case is an adverbial expression, not a modifier of La France.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
1 year ago

An he is not even from Stoke-on-Trent you know

Louie Betty
Louie Betty
1 year ago

Right, tout court in this case is an adverbial expression, not a modifier of La France.

Reginald Duquesnoy
Reginald Duquesnoy
1 year ago

I understand why I have not read The Independent for ages. Where does this correspondent crawl out from?
First of all it is not la France tout courte, mais La France tout court. Confusion des genres! And as we say locally, si ma tante en avait, elle serait mon oncle! Thus the comparison between Thatcher and Micronus totally misses the point. In fact it is totally “invertie”. She most likely had them…as to her alter ego, I can’t even say that the jury is still out.
OĂč la libido va-t-elle se nicher?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

There is another very important difference between France and Britain that commentators appear completely blind to.
Whereas in nu britn, and rule by the lower middle classes, the industrial and manual working class is viewed as something that everyone must ” rise out of” and ensure that Kayleigh and Kevin become computer programmers of line managers: their ” soshul ‘ hambishun” says that death my hanging, drawing and quartering, would be preferable than becoming working class again, especially if the neighbours ” feound eout”.

In France, society respects, and reveres those who work , and more importantly wish to work at SNCF, Renault, Michelin, and Peugeot, and their rights and status, and wants to ensure that they continue to do so and not dream of their offspring entering the masonic lodge and golf club as ” slisters and acceountants”.

Thus France gives French society superb roads and railways, the vast majority of cars on the road are French, and those workers huge pension funds invest in French government bonds, so help the funding of long term infrastructure cost burdens.

Of course this has nothing to do with EU membership. Britain could adopt a raft of inspiration from both EU and non EU countries, but never does… Norways’ oil wealth fund, Switzerlands low tax attraction governed by Cantons individual tax deals with UHNW individuals, Germany’s paying citizens to recycle, and its ” 30 days only” terms of supplier credit,Germany’s high motorway speed limits, Italy and France’s wine prices, and a plethora of others….

Michael Marron
Michael Marron
1 year ago

You don’t know France very well, do you?
The majority of French people view those who work for the multinationals in the same light as those who work for the government. Entitled parasites living off the sweat of those who work in the real private sector, whether that is AI or plumbing

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Marron

Firstly, Peugeot, Michelin, Renault and last but not least SNCF, are not multi nationals, and all but SNCF are in the private sector, and having just returned from 6 weeks in France and having a family holiday house or boat there for over 30 years…. Might I humbly suggest that you engage grey matter prior to your keyboard, so as not to wilfully display such a public and embarrasing lack of knowledge??

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Marron

As in plumbing the depths of display of ignorance and factual inaccuracy, as you have just done?

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Marron

Firstly, Peugeot, Michelin, Renault and last but not least SNCF, are not multi nationals, and all but SNCF are in the private sector, and having just returned from 6 weeks in France and having a family holiday house or boat there for over 30 years…. Might I humbly suggest that you engage grey matter prior to your keyboard, so as not to wilfully display such a public and embarrasing lack of knowledge??

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Marron

As in plumbing the depths of display of ignorance and factual inaccuracy, as you have just done?

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago

They haven’t adopted ideas that work elsewhere because the sole purpose of British politicians for the last 60 years or so has been to keep the rich, rich, or to join the rich themselves. Ordinary people are just cash cows at best and a dangerous irritant at worst.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 year ago

Yes, and that’s all great, but why can’t the French just accept changing demographics and working until 64?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

Sometimes it’s not the message, but the messenger.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

Sometimes it’s not the message, but the messenger.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago

Exactly – very clever of Thatcher to make social mobility the now unquestioned answer to working class alienation. Rather than encouraging poor working people to escape their circumstances (usually through the narrow goalposts of a-levels) why not improve those circumstances and create skilled techincal jobs again through a program of reindustrialisation with mission-oriented state-owned companies (so successful abroad, as you say)
Instead we have a tyranny of ‘meritocracy,’ as Michael Young (who came up with the word) foresaw.

Last edited 1 year ago by Desmond Wolf
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

We need to change our education system. Basically half of expenditure and numbers students should be very high quality vocational and engineering, quarter pure science and quarter arts – classical and modern languages. Turn all ex polys into Fraunhofer Institutes. Select at eleven years of age and replicate Swiss education. Gymnasia to copy Direct Grant Grammar Schools- Manchester or , King Edward VIth Birmingham with emphasis on pure science, engineering and a quater on high level arts – classical and modern languages. Bring back university entrance exams of Oxbridge standard and reduce numbers of universities to about ten for whole of country and bring back Institution of Engineering Exams to be taught at evening classes at Fraunhofer Institutes. Close down three quarters of arts/humanities degrees. Have it so people can take A Levels at fifteen years of age and university entrance exams at seventeen years of age.
Basically have a an electrician or mechanic who has completed a five year apprenticeship of the old City and Guilds Standard with a HND in Engineering who can speak two foreign languages. An Engineering graduate would have the same standard as someone with a pre 1980 Cambridge/Imperial degree.
One cannot make an economy based on high value advanced engineering from someone who thinks a GSCE Grade C in Maths and Physics are major achievements and has a slap dash approach to accuracy and precision.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Think I would go with most of that. The only big provision I would make is expanding adult education so that those technically trained who realise later in life they have a propensity towards academia (something often not yet apparent to the hormone-addled teen) are able to study again and with a sense of purpose and direction that younger students are less likely to have.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Think I would go with most of that. The only big provision I would make is expanding adult education so that those technically trained who realise later in life they have a propensity towards academia (something often not yet apparent to the hormone-addled teen) are able to study again and with a sense of purpose and direction that younger students are less likely to have.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 year ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

We need to change our education system. Basically half of expenditure and numbers students should be very high quality vocational and engineering, quarter pure science and quarter arts – classical and modern languages. Turn all ex polys into Fraunhofer Institutes. Select at eleven years of age and replicate Swiss education. Gymnasia to copy Direct Grant Grammar Schools- Manchester or , King Edward VIth Birmingham with emphasis on pure science, engineering and a quater on high level arts – classical and modern languages. Bring back university entrance exams of Oxbridge standard and reduce numbers of universities to about ten for whole of country and bring back Institution of Engineering Exams to be taught at evening classes at Fraunhofer Institutes. Close down three quarters of arts/humanities degrees. Have it so people can take A Levels at fifteen years of age and university entrance exams at seventeen years of age.
Basically have a an electrician or mechanic who has completed a five year apprenticeship of the old City and Guilds Standard with a HND in Engineering who can speak two foreign languages. An Engineering graduate would have the same standard as someone with a pre 1980 Cambridge/Imperial degree.
One cannot make an economy based on high value advanced engineering from someone who thinks a GSCE Grade C in Maths and Physics are major achievements and has a slap dash approach to accuracy and precision.

Michael Marron
Michael Marron
1 year ago

You don’t know France very well, do you?
The majority of French people view those who work for the multinationals in the same light as those who work for the government. Entitled parasites living off the sweat of those who work in the real private sector, whether that is AI or plumbing

Jonny Stud
Jonny Stud
1 year ago

They haven’t adopted ideas that work elsewhere because the sole purpose of British politicians for the last 60 years or so has been to keep the rich, rich, or to join the rich themselves. Ordinary people are just cash cows at best and a dangerous irritant at worst.

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 year ago

Yes, and that’s all great, but why can’t the French just accept changing demographics and working until 64?

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 year ago

Exactly – very clever of Thatcher to make social mobility the now unquestioned answer to working class alienation. Rather than encouraging poor working people to escape their circumstances (usually through the narrow goalposts of a-levels) why not improve those circumstances and create skilled techincal jobs again through a program of reindustrialisation with mission-oriented state-owned companies (so successful abroad, as you say)
Instead we have a tyranny of ‘meritocracy,’ as Michael Young (who came up with the word) foresaw.

Last edited 1 year ago by Desmond Wolf
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

There is another very important difference between France and Britain that commentators appear completely blind to.
Whereas in nu britn, and rule by the lower middle classes, the industrial and manual working class is viewed as something that everyone must ” rise out of” and ensure that Kayleigh and Kevin become computer programmers of line managers: their ” soshul ‘ hambishun” says that death my hanging, drawing and quartering, would be preferable than becoming working class again, especially if the neighbours ” feound eout”.

In France, society respects, and reveres those who work , and more importantly wish to work at SNCF, Renault, Michelin, and Peugeot, and their rights and status, and wants to ensure that they continue to do so and not dream of their offspring entering the masonic lodge and golf club as ” slisters and acceountants”.

Thus France gives French society superb roads and railways, the vast majority of cars on the road are French, and those workers huge pension funds invest in French government bonds, so help the funding of long term infrastructure cost burdens.

Of course this has nothing to do with EU membership. Britain could adopt a raft of inspiration from both EU and non EU countries, but never does… Norways’ oil wealth fund, Switzerlands low tax attraction governed by Cantons individual tax deals with UHNW individuals, Germany’s paying citizens to recycle, and its ” 30 days only” terms of supplier credit,Germany’s high motorway speed limits, Italy and France’s wine prices, and a plethora of others….

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 year ago

King Charles’ visit wasn’t cancelled because of security reasons; that’s just the official explanation. The real reason the visit was cancelled is to avoid the poor optics of Macron dining at Versailles with Charles, like he was Louis XVI (Macron, not Charles).

William Edward Henry Appleby
William Edward Henry Appleby
1 year ago

King Charles’ visit wasn’t cancelled because of security reasons; that’s just the official explanation. The real reason the visit was cancelled is to avoid the poor optics of Macron dining at Versailles with Charles, like he was Louis XVI (Macron, not Charles).

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

“Macron needs to be more like Thatcher”

Dressing up Jove in a blue power-dress, complete with pearls and twin-set, is not necessarily going to make the French grow up.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 year ago

“Macron needs to be more like Thatcher”

Dressing up Jove in a blue power-dress, complete with pearls and twin-set, is not necessarily going to make the French grow up.

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
1 year ago

I don’t think the pension reform on its own is too objectionable. The means of imposing it are extremely dubious though. And to be honest, whether the reform is good or bad, I can’t help but smile seeing the arrogant bankster version of Napoleon that is Macron get made to squirm.

Martin Layfield
Martin Layfield
1 year ago

I don’t think the pension reform on its own is too objectionable. The means of imposing it are extremely dubious though. And to be honest, whether the reform is good or bad, I can’t help but smile seeing the arrogant bankster version of Napoleon that is Macron get made to squirm.

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
1 year ago

More power to the protesters. The last thing France needs is a Thatcher “reforming” the country “for its own good.”

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
1 year ago

More power to the protesters. The last thing France needs is a Thatcher “reforming” the country “for its own good.”

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
1 year ago

All you need show is a graph of average age to defend the morality of the change. That said, I wouldn’t bother, there is another solution. Only pay retirement for 20years. You can take it anytime after 62.