En Marche! Tomorrow is the day that French voters head to the polls again in the second round of the Presidential election, and it’s extremely likely that once the votes are counted, Emmanuel Macron will comfortably win. Not only would it be a great result for centrist politics, echoing that of New Labour, Trudeau, Obama; but once again a fascist right wing leader with the surname Le Pen, would be defeated.
Realistically, this should be a formality. But why are many still holding off from the celebrations? Primarily, because we’ve seen this before. Many are comparing this election to that of Trumps, as well as the EU referendum, and whilst there are similarities, this would be a far greater upset. Remain led Leave by 2-3 points on the day, and Clinton by 4-5 (she still won by 3 on popular vote); but these dwarf the gap between Macron and Le Pen, which is 20+ points.
However, there is one underlying factor across all 3 scenarios, a factor that is currently sweeping across politics. The self-righteous attitude of the hard left.
Today, a big factor in the margin of Macron’s victory will be the turnout of Melenchon supporters. Francois Fillon’s voters will be evenly split between the two candidates, but a poll by Elabe suggests that 53% of Mélenchon’s voters will go to Macron and 16% to Le Pen. However, it’s expected that a large proportion of his voters will opt to abstain rather than make sure the fascist isn’t elected. Of 243,000 Mélenchon supporters questioned, 36% intend to spoil their vote, just 34% planned to support Macron, and 29% would abstain entirely.
One reason for this, is Melenchon’s inability to endorse Macron. Imagine that! A leader on the left can’t even tell his voters to vote for a centrist over a fascist! Even Fillon on the centre-right has endorsed Macron over Le Pen. Even without an endorsement from Melenchon, it’s despicable that his supporters aren’t throwing their support over to Macron anyway. Le Pen is a far-right Holocaust revisionist, Macron isn’t. Le Pen’s party and beliefs is built on antisemitism, racism; Macron’s isn’t. The choice is as simple as it could be.
The thing is, we’ve seen this before, only last November. Once Bernie Sanders, the hard-left candidate, was beaten in the Democrat Primaries, many of his supporters treated Clinton and Trump with the same disdain. Although Bernie Sanders did endorse Clinton for the Presidency, his supports weren’t as keen, and many abstained, or worse, voted for Trump. Remember Susan Sarandon’s highly publicised comment “Clinton is more dangerous than Trump”, how’s that working out for you? Many said Clinton and Trump “were the same”, “both evil”; and the worse thing is these Bernie supporters probably still can’t see how wrong they were.
Even in the EU referendum, where the choice was remaining in the EU, or having a Tory Brexit, many on the far left chose to vote Leave in the hope of some magical Lexit, full of socialism. This was utter hokum! We had a Tory government, and an ineffective leader of the opposition – there was only going to be a Tory hard Brexit.
So, what’s the underlying reason for this warped attitude towards candidates and elections on the hard left? The main one, is the idea of ideology purity, and the inability to compromise. These people care more about their own ideological purity, rather than the genuine threat of actual fascism, because they know they will not suffer the real effects themselves. Imagine being so self righteous that you put neoliberalism and capitalism on the same scale as actual fascism.
The same is currently being seen in UK politics, as the hard left in Labour make it clear they would rather lose and keep their ideology, rather than compromise to win over the Tory voters. Since Corbyn became leader of the party, the party has lurched further to the left, and as expected is now being trounced in the polls, and experienced wipeout in this week’s local elections. Labour cannot govern unless it reclaims swing voters from the Tories; and the left are unwilling to win these over.
You see the T-shirts proudly on sale at Labour Party conference, splashed across with the words: “Never kissed a Tory”. Hating Tory voters now seems to be a badge of honour among some Labour members, and this makes it impossible to reach out to them. It was apparent once more after the local elections. Labour was wiped out in many areas, and the hard left’s answer is to blame the electorate, and even go as far as to call them idiots, and even racist.
It’s why so many on the hard left also call for a progressive alliance. These members feel if they can unite with the left-wing Greens, and the Lib Dems (who love neo-liberalism), they won’t need those Tory voters. But this is false once again. These are simply dreams of members who don’t want to ever engage with Tory voters, or ‘vermin’ as they like to call them.
What the hard left seem incapable of understanding is, you can still be critical of centrists and concepts of neo-liberalism without surrendering rule to the right and to fascism. As Yanis Varoufakis brilliantly put this week, voters in France should vote for Macron with the same energy and enthusiasm as when they oppose him in government. This should have been the same for Clinton, and for Remain, and should also be extrapolated within Labour. Win those Tory centrist voters needed to win the election, and then implement policies on the left of the spectrum.
Until the left learns to look outside their ideological bubble, and towards the centre, they will not experience any form of success in elections, and we will only continue to see a rise in far right politicians, and far right ideology across the globe.