James Delingpole, Telegraph (London), January 10, 2014
Ukip and France’s Front National are closer than the former will admit, says Marine Le Pen.
Is this true?
Both are led by funny, attractive, charismatic leaders who have had quite enough of the usual politicking by the usual self-interested politicians; both want to restore their nation’s sense of pride and its sovereignty over Brussels. And for further details on what Le Front National believes or doesn’t believe I commend this article in Standpoint.
So what are the Front National’s policies? These were clearly set out before 4,500 rapturous party members in a recent speech by Marine Le Pen in Marseilles. The predominant theme was the restoration of national sovereignty. In terms of specifics, this was taken to mean withdrawal from the EU and the euro, the protection of the French economy from “unfair” competition and the forces of globalisation, priority for French citizens in jobs and housing, an end to mass immigration, a tough stance on law and order issues and a reassertion of French cultural identity. It also means a strong and independent France in defence and foreign affairs.
There are major differences too, though. Ukip’s impulses are far more libertarian and small government than the essentially statist Front National’s. Also, the traditions from which it springs are much more British. The French revere the state in a way that few Britons ever really could: they had Louis XIV and Napoleon; they like that kind of thing; we don’t.
Let me pose a different question, though, and one which I think addresses the far more important underlying issue: why does Nigel Farage have to tread on eggshells when the subject is raised?
Nigel Farage, the head of Ukip, ruled out joining forces, stating on Thursday: “We keep getting this every fortnight or so don’t we? Look, we’ve made it clear that we don’t intend to do a political deal at any point with French National Front.”
The answer, of course, that he operates in a world where for years the terms of the debate have been defined almost exclusively by the liberal-left. For example, I have a suspicion that a Britain run by the Green party would be a country subject to no less toxic and destructive a form of extremism than were it run by the BNP; that President Hollande’s sclerotic socialism is but a cigarette paper away from Marine Le Pen’s commitment to nationalisation and protectionism; that–with notable exceptions like Greece’s vile and genuinely fascistic Golden Dawn–the anti-EU parties springing up across the Continent are truer to the principles of democracy than the European Union. Yet our lazy and parti-pris media–even many newspapers notionally on the right-wing side of the debate–continue to do the liberal-left’s dirty work for it by labelling any party with instincts which are nationalistic, anti-immigration, or anti-EU as belonging to the “far-right”–and therefore automatically beyond the pale of reasoned political discourse. The loons of the green-left, on the other hand, get a more or less free pass to spout their anti-democratic drivel at will.
This sly trick was eloquently exposed by Dan Hannan in a recent Spectator article.
To lump together fascist parties (Golden Dawn in Greece, Ataka in Bulgaria, Jobbik in Hungary, the BNP) with bellicose but essentially constitutional anti-immigration movements (FN in France, PVV in the Netherlands, Freedom Party in Austria) is clumsy. To add in eurosceptic parties of the democratic right (AfD in Germany, Mouvement pour la France, Danish People’s Party, Ukip) is deliberately tendentious.
When someone groups all these parties together under the label ‘extreme right’, he is telling you more about himself than about them. Parties like Golden Dawn are not right-wing in any recognisable sense. They favour workers’ councils, higher spending, state-controlled industries; they march on May Day under red flags. They could just as easily sit at either end of the European Parliament’s hemicycle (our closest equivalent, in its combination of mystical nationalism and loathing for capitalism, is Sinn Féin). Calling such parties right-wing isn’t intended to make anyone think less of them; it’s intended to damage mainstream conservatives by implying that the difference between them and the Nazis is one of degree.
Something similar has been going on for years–since 1968 to be precise–with the debate about immigration. It has been effectively closed down thanks to a speech given by a great classicist, poet and distinguished war veteran (one of only two men to have risen from private to brigadier) warning of the break-down of social cohesion which might occur as a result of unchecked immigration.
This is the subject of another excellent article in the Spectator, this time by Rod Liddle.
Dermot Murnaghan tripped up Mr Farage by the devilishly clever tactic of reading him some anodyne quotes from Powell’s exciting and controversial ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech and asking Farage if he agreed with them. But only later did he reveal that they were the words of the sulphurous Antichrist Powell! Brilliant. The quote Murnaghan used was about how mass immigration had led people to consider themselves strangers in their own neighbourhoods and placed a bit of a strain on local infrastructure. Farage, like I suspect a good 60 per cent of the population, nodded along in agreement, and the trap was sprung. Ha! You love Enoch, you do. You probably want to marry him.
A terrific ploy. They must take it further. When David Cameron is a guest on the Murnaghan Show, Dermot should ask him if he agrees with the following: ‘As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have a duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.’ And when the Prime Minister says yep, that’s me, down to the bone, Dermot can pounce: ‘Hitler said that! You’re Hitler, you are.’ And for Nick Clegg: ‘I’m quite modest. I don’t want to tell people I’m a leader.’ That’s Pol Pot! Nick’s Pol Pot! Maybe if they have Archbishop Welby on one day they can ask him if he agrees with this: ‘Man is subject to certain desires and needs which are as natural to his being as they are to that of any other animal.’ And then reveal that it comes from the head of Stalin’s NKVD, Laventiy Beria, you evil episcopal bastard, who do you think you’re fooling with this love and peace rubbish? You want to eliminate enemies of the state in a dark basement.
So, no, I don’t remotely blame Nigel Farage for his awkwardness on the Marine Le Pen front. I do very much blame the utterly dishonest, intellectually and morally bankrupt, bien-pensant culture which has made such awkwardness necessary.