President Macron’s half-term report: Epic fail or a curate’s egg?

He’s the president the neoliberal globalists love, but who the man (and woman) in the street seem less keen on. Gilet Jaunes street protests have taken place in France every weekend for the past eleven months, but you’d never know about them if you only read/watched Establishment-friendly media. While images of pro-democracy Hong Kong protests – taking place thousands of miles away – make the headlines in western Europe, pro-democracy protests down the road, or across the Channel, in Macron’s France are ignored. Or at least they have been up to now.

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The task of Macron – a former investment banker – was to complete the transfer of the French economy over to global capital. To do to France what Margaret Thatcher did to Britain 30 years ago. He’s pushed privatisation both as a way of cutting the budget deficit but also to raise money for a new 10 billion euro touchy-feely Innovation Fund.

The trouble is the numbers just don’t add up. Despite fierce public opposition, he seems hell-bent on selling off the French state’s majority stake in airport operator Groupe ADP. But ADP is profitable: it owns airports outside of France too and is in fact the world’s number 1 in airport management.

It returns a good income to the state, which helps reduce the deficit.

So why on earth sell? It makes no sense unless you realise what the agenda is. To prove the point, one of Macron’s first targets was France’s excellent state-owned railway SNCF. While he said he didn’t want to privatise it, SNCF will be transformed into a joint-stock company and will lose its monopoly on domestic routes next year. Next month, France’s national lottery is set to be privatised and Macron also wants to sell public stakes in a number of firms.

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His international policy has generally mirrored his domestic agenda. He railed this week against the Turkish offensive in northern Syria, but Macron has been bombing Syria, too. In April 2018, lest we forget, France took part in missile strikes in Syria before an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma could be independently verified. He recently attacked Turkey for a “decline in the rule of law” in the country. Yet in France, Gilets Jaunes demonstrators have regularly been subject to sometimes quite appalling treatment by the authorities, some protests have been banned, and there have been scores of arrests.

Shouldn’t Macron be concerned about the ‘decline in the rule of law’ in his own country before castigating others?

READ MORE: French ophthalmologists demand Macron ban rubber bullets as eye injuries spread like ‘EPIDEMIC’

Ironically, and quite tellingly, the one good thing Macron has done in international affairs is the one thing that’s brought him the most criticism from those who have supported him in other areas. Namely, his attempts to improve European relations with Russia.

On August 27, Macron statedthe European continent will never be stable, will never be in security, never be in security, if we don’t pacify and clarify our relations with Russia.”

The French president has been the prime mover in new moves towards détente with Moscow, and for that he deserves credit, even if some (quite legitimately) would question his motives.

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But his rapprochement with the Kremlin has alarmed all the usual suspects. “On Russia, Macron is mistaken,” declared an op-ed on the British Chatham House website. “Macron’s pivot to Russia sparks EU unease,” the Financial Times wrote. A VOA report entitled “Macron’s courtship of Putin alarming Russia’s near neighbours” said British officials thought Macron’s efforts to rebuild bridges with Moscow were “premature.

Forget the Gilets Jaunes, the civil unrest, the rubber bullets, the tear gas, the tax cuts to big business and the very rich, the privatisations, the confrontation with the trade unions, the erosion of workers’ rights. The first serious criticism Macron has received internationally in the first two-and-a-half years of his presidency came when he simply pointed out that Europe needs better relations with Russia.

Doesn’t that tell us everything?

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66

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