This is interesting. The French are finding out what Labour is about to find out:
“The economic crisis, unemployment, social problems, globalisation make people afraid, but if it was just about economics we would see these people voting for the radical left, which they are not,” Bouvet told the Observer.
Bouvet is a political science professor and member of the leftwing thinktank the Jean Jaurès Foundation, which advises the Socialist party (PS) and aims to “promote the study of workers’ movements and international socialism and promote democratic and humanist ideas”. He says his latest, decidedly politically incorrect, message is one the left does not want to hear.
Bouvet says PC blinkers have prevented the Socialists from addressing working-class anxieties about immigration and the rise of Islam – even in its moderate form – in areas where the so-called Français de souche (born-and-bred French) find themselves outnumbered by those with a different religion and cultural habits. Branded les petits blancs (white trash), and accused of racism or patronised if they express their fears, they have turned en masse to the FN, he says.
“With no political offer from the left, working-class French people feel they have been abandoned economically, socially and culturally. The FN has stepped into the breach: it says to these people: ‘you are the most important and we will fight for you’.
This is not to say that I support FN of course. Rather, the point is that the working classes (in both countries) are really quite conservative. Much, much, more so than the urban intelligentsia that runs the nominally left wing parties in each country. And sometimes this doesn’t matter: as long as that intelligentsia pushes the economic policies that those workers think good then they’ll not worry too much about all the PC stuff. But that’s a licence that only extends so far. If the intelligentsia seems (to take an entirely absurd possible example) to be spending all its efforts on deciding whether a trannie should piss standing up or sitting down, in the Gents or the Ladies, then that licence isn’t going to be extended.
The heart of this is that I think Bouvet is at least partially correct. That urban intelligentsia has lost contact with what its voting base actually thinks and cares about. It takes time to overcome the inertia but it does eventually happen.