Posted by / Category Cultural Differences, Politics /

In case you have been hibernating for at least a month (Lucky you. How did you do it ? And could you please give me a call, I’d like to join you), British Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered one of the most dramatic fortune reversals in recent British political history. To cut a long story short, it took her only two years to lose an overall majority in Parliament that the Tories had been building up over the last fifteen years.

In the meantime, in my home country, the newly elected President Macron is quietly getting an overwhelming majority in Parliament with a brand new (may I say inexperienced?) team. He should win between 400 and 450 seats out of 577, a sweeping success for a movement that barely existed a year ago. Needless to say, the traditional parties are in complete disarray, and even the extreme right vote seems to plummet.

So here is my question today: what went wrong in my adoptive country (Great Britain, in case you were wondering)? And how could things go so well (for now at least) in my home country?

 

Did we need yet another election?

I am not going to lie: I didn’t see the point of yet another election in the UK. As my late grandmother used to say, better the devil you know and all that. This was compounded by the fact that it feels like I have spent the two months going to poll stations (As you know, I have dual citizenship -French and British). And frankly, my vote didn’t make much difference in both elections. It makes me wonder why I still bother.

In a BBC video hugely shared on social media, a woman called Brenda seemed to speak for a lot of us British citizen after the election was announced. Asked by a journalistl about her reaction, she wailed: “Not another one! Oh for God’s sake! I can’t stand this!” Have a look at the video here if you don’t believe me:

In my home country, the turnout for the Presidential election was incredibly high. People badly wanted things to change, and were passionate about it. Rightly or wrongly, they had had enough of old-school politicians, and ended up voting en masse to oust them. Despite being a pure product of the French system, Emmanuel Macron had managed to present himself as a new alternative. Theresa May hadn’t even tried.

The Tory manifesto was a complete joke

Can someone save the Tories from themselves? Seriously, how out of touch can you be? The Tory manifesto was a half baked list of measures that tried at the same time to please the majority  (NHS funding, executive pay packages to be approved by the shareholders…) and protect the happy few (Does anyone seriously care about fox hunting ? Don’t we have more pressing issues to deal with?). She should have added the protection of primogeniture rights to be even more popular (I am being sarcastic here, in case you’re wondering).

Theresa May needs to learn a thing or two from Emmanuel Macron. Now repeat after me: no programme is better than a half-baked programme. Look at President Macron: nobody knows what he is going to do, but he was elected, right? It’s all about presenting yourself in the best light possible, engaging with people, and looking, well, warm and human.

To add insult to injury, the Tory thought it was the right time to make elderly people pay virtually unlimited amounts for care in their home. Surely the dementia tax debate could wait a bit -because you know, we need to negotiate Brexit, deal with terror attacks, the NHS,…Seriously, has someone told Theresa May about the importance of timing? And how can you be so cold and insensitive?

But the row also shone a light on the PM’s managerial style of surrounding herself with a couple of trusted advisors (who ended up taking the blame, which frankly I find a bit unfair). Let’s just say that the whole process didn’t seem very collegial (can you spot the British understatement here?). Needless to say, things were quite different in my home country: you might not know it, but La Republique En Marche (Emmanuel Macron’s movement), has asked the whole world and his sister (using social media, emails, newspapers, etc…) what people’s suggestions to improve the situation were. I am not sure of what happened to all the suggestions, but at least people felt consulted, which clearly wasn’t the case over here.

 

Refusal to debate

This is pretty much self-explanatory: how can you refuse to debate? Don’t you find it arrogant? She called for an election but refused to debate it. Wow.

As you may have noticed, I am not a huge fan of Emmanuel Macron. Don’t get me wrong: I hope that he will succeed, but as far as I am concerned he is an unknown quantity, and managed to make people believe he was a credible alternative when he belonged to the very French establishment that put France in the state it currently is in. I don’t know what his programme is, and I don’t know whether he is right-wing or left-wing. But at least he debated with Marine le Pen, and wasn’t scared to tell workers of a factory that he was ‘no Father Christmas’. In short, he put himself out there. She didn’t. Enough said.

Charisma

“Theresa May has the personal warmth, wit, oratorical ability and attractiveness of an Indesit fridge-freezer which has been faultily connected by a man called Trevor for five quid, cash in hand, and which is now full of decomposing Findus Crispy Pancakes,” satirical writer Rod Liddle wrote in the conservative political weekly The Spectator. This is obviously quite a nasty comment.

That said, it is true that Emmanuel Macron used his glamorous wife, and always managed to present himself in a good light. I am puzzled by the fact that it looks like that Theresa may didn’t even tried. Maybe I am being unfair. What do you think?

As for me, I wish I could run away far from the actual instability climate.

 

 

  • James Casserly

    I suspect France will get a rude awakening from Emanuel Macron, he strikes me as being the French Tony Blair. However Theresa May managed to do everything wrong. She called an unnecessary election, which most people probably weren’t happy about, and the results are more a reflection of Brexit Ref 2.0 Also she really doesn’t seem to have a plan or a strategy. I think she blundered into the job and is out of her depth. Having said that, Corbyn would be even worse. We need a strong leader with vision and plans, not Theresa’s constant U-turns. Say what you like about Thatcher, but she had a plan and she generally stuck to it. Theresa has now come across as weak and that doesn’t inspire confidence for Brexit negotiations. And living in N. Ireland, I know what the DUP are like, and trust me, this “alliance”/coalition will be unstable and disastrous in the long term. I fully expect another election within two years at most. Sooner possibly.