Thomas Ferenczi, an editor at Le Monde, contributes a piece today on the French Socialist Party's stance on the European Union:
"La nouvelle déclaration de principes du Parti socialiste, qui sera la cinquième de son histoire, confirme et accentue l'engagement européen des socialistes français. Pour la première fois, le PS se présente explicitement comme "un parti européen". Pour la première fois, il souligne qu'il agit "dans l'Union européenne". Pour la première fois, il affirme que celle-ci a été non seulement "voulue", mais aussi en partie "conçue et fondée" par lui."
There is an interesting parallel here with shifts in opinion in the British Labour Party in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Labour became very much more pro-European as the party's failures in domestic politics persisted. I am a left-wing integrationist myself, but the variant of this position that you could hear among British social democrats in the 1980s was barely coherent. There was little sense of the disicplines in economic management that membership of the European Monetary System would have required. (The French Socialists had acquired painful experience of that dilemma in government between 1981 and 1983. A massive reflationary programme sucked in imports, which necessitated successive - in the then current euphemism - "realignments" of the franc within the EMS. President Mitterrand prudently reversed course and tightened monetary policy sooner than see further devaluations.) The French Socialists' increasing consensus on "l'entreprise communautaire" as the proper arena for policy is, as much as anything, a testament to the party's weakness in domestic politics. Recalling the party's feeble and bizarre campaign for the presidency last year, I'm neither surprised nor sympathetic.
Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post writes on the tergiversations of the Clintons' undignified and plainly unsuccessful campaign. Hillary's tack to the populist wing of the Democratic Party availed her naught:
"[G]oing left proved disastrous for Clinton. It abolished all significant policy differences between her and Obama, the National Journal's 2007 most liberal senator. On health care, for example, her attempts to turn a minor difference in the definition of universality into a major assault on Obama fell flat. With no important policy differences separating them, the contest became one of character and personality. Matched against this elegant, intellectually nimble, hugely talented newcomer, she had no chance of winning that contest."
On the same subject, Christopher Hitchens in The Mirror notes a peculiar and predictable liability to Hillary's campaign:
"It’s this amazing love of combat for its own sake that has won her so much grudging respect even from many Republicans. However, just take a look at the speech and notice the lugubrious, white-haired, red-faced, scowling and bored figure standing so listlessly just behind her. How can a campaign once renowned for slickness and spin have permitted such a horrid spectre at the feast? And this dreary, resentful and shambolic person was once himself described as the country’s first black president. If his wife loses we shall know why."
Meanwhile, at home, this is a prime minister lacking even the vestiges of authority and respect, with inevitable catastrophic consequences for Labour's support. I'm sorry to bang on about this, but the man was never suited to the highest office. It should not be surprising that he has brought the party to a position where he might reasonably envy the electoral standing of Michael Foot. Labour won't recover from this till Gordon Brown's titular leadership is over.