by John Lichfield
Wednesday, 9
June 2021

Why Emmanuel Macron needed that slap

A wee fracas is just what the French President wanted

As slaps go, it was a rather feeble one, more of swipe than a slap. The young man who struck President Emmanuel Macron in the Rhône valley yesterday lacked conviction. It was as if he said to himself: “Am I really going to change my life by hitting the President in front of the TV cameras.”

In any event, Damien Tarel, aged 28, will go down in history. The last person to assault a French head of state was Baron Christiani who struck President Emile Loubet on his bowler hat with his cane on 4 June 1899.

A man slapped French President Emmanuel Macron in the face and shouted ‘Down with Macronia' at a meet-and-greet in southern France ...  Continue reading

by John Lichfield
Friday, 14
May 2021
Behind the news

Ceasefire declared in the great Jersey-France whelk war

But strangely, the media won't report on it

A ceasefire has been declared in the great Jersey-France whelk war of 2021.

Who has won and who has lost? Nobody so far — but the Jersey government was the first to blink.

The restrictions unilaterally imposed by the Jersey government on Norman and Breton boats have been withdrawn until 1 July. Talks with France and the EU will resume.

The dispute was front-page news in all UK newspapers and the top of radio and TV bulletins last Thursday and Friday. Very little has been reported on the truce.

The last we heard from the UK tabloids was that the Royal Navy (two small patrol boats) had put to flight an invasion fleet of 100 French fishing boats which protested in St Helier harbour last Thursday. The French said, au contraire, that they left when they intended to leave — to go fishing for whelks, scallops and lobsters. ...  Continue reading

by John Lichfield
Thursday, 6
May 2021

Don’t believe the hype: there is no ‘cod war’ in Jersey

The British press is, once again, getting carried away

Don’t believe the British press. This is not a new cod war. It is a whelk war. Lobsters, whelks and scallops are the species mostly fished by French boats in the waters around the Isle of Jersey. 

To begin to understand the storm which has suddenly blown up in the Gulf of Saint Malo, you need to ask a basic question: why are the French threatening to cut off electricity to Jersey but not to Guernsey or the other Channel Islands? 

“The answer is quite simple,” said one senior French regional official. “We have very correct and friendly relations with Guernsey. They play by the friendly rules which have governed relations between Channel Islands and France for centuries. Not on Jersey. There is a new group of leaders there who are fiercely nationalistic and hostile to France.” ...  Continue reading

by John Lichfield
Tuesday, 27
April 2021

France’s generals have disgraced themselves

Threatening a military coup has dangerous ramifications

France is obsessed with dates. Almost every town has a street named after a significant date – frequently the day of liberation from the Nazis.

So when twenty retired French generals published an intemperate open letter warning of “civil war” on 21 April, it was a deliberately provocative move. The date marks 60 years to the day after a group of retired generals and some active officers tried to mount a coup against President Charles de Gaulle to prevent him giving Algeria its independence.

The letter talks of a military coup unless the government did something or other to combat “Islamism” and the “hordes” rampaging in the multi-racial suburbs. Not only is the language provocative, but it is also absurdly extreme: “growing chaos…civil war…final explosion…intervention by our active comrades…cowardly politicians… responsible for thousands of deaths.” No practical suggestions were made of what the government might do.  ...  Continue reading

by John Lichfield
Friday, 16
April 2021

Why does France’s youth support Marine Le Pen?

The Right-wing leader is on course to gain young voters to next year's election

If it was left to youngish French people, Marine Le Pen would probably be elected President of the Republic next May. There has been a radical shift in her favour among French 25-34 year olds, according to a recent Elabe poll (figures confirmed in other surveys by Ipsos and Ifop).

The figures are disturbing if you fear a French lurch to the far-Right next year. They need to be read with caution. Younger and older age groups are more favourable to President Emmanuel Macron.

All the same, the poll says a great deal about the mood of France before next year’s election — and the possible direction of French politics in the 2020s and beyond. ...  Continue reading