A lesson for Labour in Emmanuel Macron’s first-round success | Letters

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‘When facing nationalism from Marine Le Pen, [Emmanuel Macron] has not, as some have done in Britain, shied away from patriotism but actively taken up his role as the representative of ­patriots against nationalists,’ writes Gabriel Osborne. Photograph: Thibault Camus/AP

Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the first round of the French presidential election, and his likely triumph in the second, is good news for progressive politics across the globe. The cradle of the enlightenment has defended the values under threat on both sides of the Atlantic. Not only this, Macron has proved that positivity and openness can defeat vitriol.

Yet an equally important message that British progressives, especially in the Labour party, should take from Sunday’s result is that we should be appealing to a wide variety of voters, those who sit in the centre of the spectrum who are neither traditional socialists nor neoliberals, those of us who neither believe that when something goes badly you should buy it but nor when something goes well you should sell it.

Though originally of the left, Macron has run a centrist campaign, not allowing the far-right’s Euroscepticism to affect his support for the EU. He calls for reform but is open about his preference for a strong European Union. When facing nationalism from Marine Le Pen he has not, as some have done in Britain, shied away from patriotism but actively taken up his role as the representative of patriots against nationalists. His discourse has not been debased by his opponents.

If Labour is to survive in June it needs to be more open about its vision for Britain’s future in Europe and not let a nationalistic-leaning Conservative party dictate the boundaries of patriotism. A charismatic spearhead like Macron might also be a good idea.
Gabriel Osborne
Bristol

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