I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, to find out what the French Front National’s policy on smoking and smoking bans might be. Because they’re doing rather well.
We have a minor earthquake in France. A party committed to withdrawal from the euro, the restoration of French franc, and the complete destruction of monetary union has just defeated the establishment in the Brignoles run-off election.
It is threatening Frexit [French exit from EU] as well, which rather alters the political chemistry of Britain’s EU referendum.
Marine Le Pen’s Front National won 54pc of the vote. It was a bad defeat for the Gaulliste UMP, a party at risk of disintegration unless it can find a leader in short order.
President Hollande’s Socialists were knocked out in the first round, due to mass defection to the Front National by the working-class Socialist base. The Socialists thought the Front worked to their advantage by splitting the Right. They have at last woken up to the enormous political danger.
What might have attracted the working-class socialist base? It seems that Marine Le Pen has re-invented the Front National:
Indeed more broadly, Marine Le Pen has given the FN the face for a new generation.
It is not just that she has broken with the sinister relics of the old guard, with its roots in anti-Semitic Vichy. She is also very identifiably a modern French woman.
Or is it that they can see that she’s just like them?
With her two divorces, steely femininity, and cigarette-roughened voice, she comes across as far more “normal” than most of her political rivals.
She’s a hard-drinking, chain-smoking woman:
In her office in Lille, she’s all brash confidence, chain-smoking Philip Morris Super Lights, which, no doubt, contribute to the trademark rasp in her voice.
Well, it doesn’t sound like she’d be in favour of the French smoking ban, does it?
And, regardless of the FN’s tobacco policy, who would you vote for? A hard-drinking, chain-smoking woman, or some antismoking milquetoast?
Not hard, is it?
She’s doing in France, to some extent, what Nigel Farage is doing in Britain with his beer and cigarettes: she’s showing that she’s ‘normal’, despite every attempt to denormalise her and people like her.