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Le Pen – the female champion of the excluded – trumps Europe’s shouty men

7 May 2017

10:00 AM

7 May 2017

10:00 AM

Pierre Poujade was a French shopkeeper who, in the mid-1950s, led quite a powerful right-wing revolt in favour of the little man against the elites. The leader of his party’s youth branch was Jean-Marie Le Pen. The word ‘Poujadiste’ is not usually intended as a compliment in France or here, and the late Christopher Soames did not intend it as such — though he served in her cabinet — when he privately described Mrs Thatcher as ‘Poujade with tits’. But if, as seems quite likely, Marine Le Pen wins 40 per cent of the votes in the French presidential election on Sunday (let alone if she wins a majority), something like Poujadism will have gained a strength way beyond that of its founder. I wonder if this change is to do with the characteristic to which Soames indelicately referred. A female champion of the excluded has wider appeal in modern Europe than shouty men.

This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Notes, which appears in this week’s Spectator


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