July 24th, 2024


Always the 'Far Right' Bridesmaid...

Mark Steyn

By Mark Steyn

Published July 8, 2024

Always the 'Far Right' Bridesmaid...


>Exactly a week ago, after the first round of the French election, I wrote:

A more cautious person might bet on Mme Le Pen coming up just a wee bit short [of a parliamentary majority] - if only because all the forces of the French elites are determined to stop her.

That was my worst-case scenario, after the Rassemblement National's victories in both the European election and the preliminary round of the French one. Instead, what Mme Le Pen's comrade Jordan Bardella calls "an alliance of dishonour" between Emmanuel Macron's "centrist" technocrats and Jean-Luc Mélenchon's hardcore leftists drove the so-called "far right" down into third place.

So Macron's guys won? Er, no: the lefties did. They will be the largest group in a National Assembly where no party has a majority. M Mélenchon, a Corbynesque "magic grandpa" [top right], says he wants to be prime minister to implement the central planks of his platform - increasing the minimum wage and lowering the retirement age from sixty-four to sixty (in a land where life expectancy is closing in on eighty-three).

The BBC dispatched their man to report the jubilations on the street:

"I'm so relieved," grinned university student Sarah Bennani, 19, moments after the results were broadcast.

"When I go home tonight, I won't be afraid that someone grabs my hijab," she continued, accusing the far-right National Rally – which could only manage third place in these elections - of fuelling racism, and racist attacks across France.

Is hijab-grabbing really a problem in France? The gang-rape of Jewesses is, and attacks on school teachers are, as are random stabbings of children, the execution in cold blood of prisoner escorts, the murder of rural youth at country dances... Yet, had Marine Le Pen's party triumphed, no BBC wallah would have reported the result as a setback for any of the preceding, no matter what the vox populi told him. To assert a political dimension or a public-policy component to France's cultural transformation is to "fuel racism" and render oneself beyond the pale.

So, in a sense, M Macron sorta kinda won. He successfully demonstrated that, if you narrow the choice to the "far right" and a single alternative candidate, enough purportedly rational people can be persuaded to plump for Mr A N Other - or Monsieur U N Autre - even if he happens to be a Communist Hamas groupie in favour of open borders. In an effort to "de-toxify" her brand, Mme Le Pen has discarded almost all her party's previous positions except for its opposition to mass migration. That lone hold-out is enough to get her damned now and forever as "far right". But maybe that too can be finessed away before the next election.

As I mentioned last week, in the commune I know best (where I spent my post-cardiac convalescence) the RN got 47 per cent in the first round. Yesterday, in a straight run-off with the amiable socialist chick, they increased their share to 58 per cent. That's not that unusual a result: the RN also won, by similar margins, virtually the entire south coast except Marseille - ie, all the places vacationing foreigners go for the planet's best food and wine and topless beaches. Nice, for example, votes Le Pen, as does St Tropez and all its neighbouring resorts. The rationalisation advanced in a particularly dim Spectator piece that the RN's appeal is strictly to the geriatrics and drug-addled in loser towns where the only employment is at the local tattoo parlour is bollocks even by the standards of the magazine's recent UK election coverage. Truly, the Speccie can't get nothin' right these days: the decaying commune Sean Thomas selected for what he called "my day in Le Pen Land" in fact voted 59 per cent for Mélenchon. How, even in Fleet Street, can you sell your editor on a colour piece from Le Pen Land and then get off at the wrong stop? Especially when the publisher Andrew Neil lives in the South of France surrounded by RN voters on all sides (64 per cent of the second-round vote). Isn't he embarrassed by this rubbish?

Ah, but I see I'm lapsing into that special-pleading voice that has become all but traditional across Europe on the morning after the "far right"'s non-landslides. M Bardella points out that his party has made "historic gains", which is correct. But the problem, in France as in the Netherlands and elsewhere, is that the gains, while impressive historically, are insufficient to the moment.

Just shy of two decades ago, I spoke at a New Criterion symposium in New York. Roger Scruton was there and set the cat among the pigeons when, after reference to our increasing corpulence, he said the real problem was the west's "moral obesity". When it came to my turn, I laid out what would become the demographic thesis of America Alone. My fellow panelist Douglas Murray demurred slightly, and said the Muslim numbers in Britain and Europe were still very small and the trend-line need not prove dispositive. It was all a long time ago. The ruddy glow of late middle-age has since faded from my cheeks, and the twinkling vigour of gilded youth has fled even Douglas's.

And nobody has arrested that trend-line. As I pointed out on Friday, the new bloc of "independent Muslim" MPs at Westminster is one less than Farage's Reform Party. And, another five years down the line with a couple million more "migrants", whose side does Britain's demographics favour?

It is the same conundrum for Mme Le Pen and Geert Wilders: as unwinnable as French and Dutch cities are now, they will be even more unwinnable half-a-decade hence - when there will be even more "university students" like Mlle Bennani, and the establishment will still be urging us to unite even more unitedly against the scourge of hijab-grabbing.

So the "far right" will continue to make "historic gains" that are never quite historic enough. Because as I wrote on Friday our rulers have decided that no changes to anything that matters can be permitted.

Many years ago, the late Martin Amis put my demographic thesis to the then British prime minister:

When I interviewed Tony Blair earlier this year I asked him if continental demographics had yet become 'a European conversation'. He said: 'It's a subterranean conversation.' And we know what that means. The ethos of relativism finds the demographic question so saturated in revulsions that it is rendered undiscussable.

And, like that BBC reporter on the streets of Saint-Denis, that's how they intend to keep it.

Mark's international bestseller America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. If you haven't read the book during its first seventeen years, well, you're missing a treat. It's still in print in hardback and paperback. (Buy it at a 77% discount by clicking here or order in KINDLE edition at a 47% discount by clicking here. Sales help fund JWR)


Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human rights activist. Among his books is "The Undocumented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned". (Buy it at a 49% discount by clicking here or order in KINDLE edition at a 67% discount by clicking here. Sales help fund JWR)