OPINION - Evening Standard Comment: Macron’s remarkable central achievement
By any measure, President Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the second round of voting in the French presidential election was a resounding one. In securing 58 per cent of the vote, he became the first president in two decades to be reelected. Yet many will inevitably turn to the 42 per cent won by the far-Right candidate, Marine Le Pen. She may have softened her language and benefited from France’s own rising cost of living, but she remains a figure of the hard-Right, who maintained close ties with Vladimir Putin for years.
Macron’s win, therefore, is a boost to Nato and the EU — in 2017, Le Pen supported France leaving the euro — as well as to London’s large French community, 93 per cent of whom voted for Macron. There are multifold challenges for the president as he begins a second term. His margin of victory is narrower than in 2017 — signs of the disillusionment in the centre held by Left and Right — and he must now gear up for parliamentary elections that will prove crucial for his ability to govern.
But yesterday, he received an endorsement not only for who he is not but for what he has accomplished. And in doing so, he has swept aside the traditional parties of the centre-Left and Right while vanquishing the extremes on both sides. Macron’s rise and stay remain a remarkable political achievement.
At the nexus of misogyny and snobbery lies an unnamed Conservative MP, who suggested that Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, crosses and uncrosses her legs to distract the Prime Minister in the House of Commons because she cannot compete with his “Oxford Union debating training”. Boris Johnson has distanced himself from the attack, albeit in an identikit tweet to that of the Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries. He must go further, making it clear that such briefings will not be tolerated.
Claims like these debase our public life and put off many people from all sorts of backgrounds from getting involved in politics. That a Tory MP deemed this sort of ill-judged briefing would be a boon to an already under-fire Johnson should worry the Prime Minister.
Fix HRT crisis now
Millions of women in Britain suffer from menopause symptoms ranging from hot flushes to difficulty sleeping. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a vital drug that can help relieve these, yet widespread shortages are causing havoc across the country.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced his intention to appoint an HRT czar to sort the supply problems, which have left some women borrowing each other’s medication. Having one person in charge of sorting the issues to bang heads is welcome, but the reality is this is not the first time such issues have occurred.
It is hard to prove a negative, but it is not impossible to imagine that if this issue were afflicting only men rather than women, it may have been addressed sooner. The stigma surrounding menopause and its sometimes debilitating symptoms is lifting. Women are raising their voices to be heard, and will not again be silent. The Government must sort this out, now.