As French far-left presidential candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon surges in the polls, many on the left in this country have been quick to hail his rise as proof of the appeal of ‘left-wing populism’
Owen Jones last week wrote in The Guardian, in almost celebratory tone, that the rise of Mr Melenchon as a fourth contender in the French presidential election is proof that “the old order is broken.”
Of course, Jones is a man of the left, and this is unsurprising to an extent, but it is still striking, the lengths some on the left will go to, to defend a candidate who shares much of Marine Le Pen’s agenda.
Melenchon wants to withdraw France from NATO, and the Euro, whilst renegotiating France’s entire relationship with the EU, and imposing a protectionist trade agenda. He is anti-globalist, inward-looking, and has even borrowed some of Le Pen’s rhetoric on Islam, declaring that “there is no such thing as Islamophobia.”
Yet the British left are still proud to hold him up as a champion of their cause. Where do these people draw the line? Indeed in reality, if Jeremy Corbyn’s support for authoritarianism in Cuba, and Venezuela is anything to go by, maybe there is no line to draw.
It strikes me as somewhat contradictory to, on the one hand, argue for openness and support for the EU, while at the same time cheerleading for a candidate who would destroy the EU, and the Eurozone, ushering a period of French introspection and economic nationalism. That’s not to mention the potential for a run on French banks which would leave millions of working people in dire straits.
Jones’ stance simply reinforces the fact that sections of the left, although masquerading as pro-EU, progressives, are in fact singing from the same hymn sheet as Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump (circa November 2016), on many issues.
That is something I am perfectly willing to accept, so as long as they just admit it, instead of pretending to be the protectors of openness, free trade, and international institutions. If you are happy supporting an anti-globalist, economic nationalist agenda, then fine – but be honest about it.
Melenchon is not a progressive. He would take France back to the 1950s. If the hard left really want to embrace the Le Pen/Melenchon world view then so be it. They should stop pretending otherwise.