Thursday, 25 June 2009

Learning lessons from the French

There is a thought-provoking and constructive article on the Prospect Magazine blog, written by the BBC World Service's Jonathan Marcus. He has written a book on the French Front National, and he thinks there are lessons to be learnt in the way that the mainstream French parties managed to stem the flow of support for the far-right.

Do have a read of the whole article, but here are some of the highlights:

" a time when electoral reform is again on the agenda; when the allegiance of many traditional Labour voters seems to be waning and economic uncertainty is knocking on the door, the French experience should very much be borne in mind. It was the inability of French mainstream parties to tackle issues like insecurity and immigration without sounding like a pale reflection of the National Front that helped to legitimise its message. And institutional reform gave it a brief parliamentary breakthrough."

He sums up thus:

"The message of 2009 from France and Britain is that the ball is very much in the mainstream parties’ court. With the right policies, that take into account both widespread concerns and the need for social cohesion, there is no reason that the rise of Nick Griffin should be any less resistible than that of Jean-Marie Le Pen."

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