Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller

Jonathan Miller, who lives near Montpellier, is the author of ‘France, a Nation on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’ (Gibson Square). His Twitter handle is: @lefoudubaron

Macron’s game: can he still outplay Le Pen?

45 min listen

This week: Macron’s game. Our cover piece looks at the big news following the European elections at the weekend, President Macron’s decision to call early parliamentary elections in France. Madness or genius, either way the decision comes with huge risk. And can he still outplay Le Pen, asks writer Jonathan Miller. Jonathan joins the podcast

Jonathan Miller

Can Macron still outplay Le Pen?

Petulance, panic and performance. President Macron’s broadcast following the evisceration of his party in last weekend’s elections for the European parliament had elements of all three. Wearing a black tie as if in mourning, he looked shocked, exhausted and angry. ‘The rise of the nationalists and demagogues,’ he said, ‘is a threat not only to

French healthcare shows there’s another way for the NHS

Nigel Farage says the NHS ‘isn’t working’ and has suggested the UK adopt a French-style heathcare system. He’s evidently been reading my articles here and here. French healthcare isn’t perfect but compared to the bedlam of what most British politicians refer to as ‘our’ NHS, it’s fabulous. I speak from knowledge. I have experience as a

The EU wants to make travelling to France a misery

Exciting developments may be in store for everyone travelling to Europe from this autumn onwards. That’s to say riots, gnashing of teeth and screaming infants at border control, as stressed travellers and immigration officers go mad trying to navigate a new and apparently dysfunctional European frontier system. This latest gift from our EU overseers looks

Macron’s empire is falling apart

‘Maoré na Farantsa paka tcho!’, Emmanuel Macron declared five years ago campaigning in Mamoudzou, speaking the local language of Shimaoré in the capital city of Mayotte, a French-ruled archipelago-commune in the Indian Ocean. Translation: Mayotte and France, for ever, in life until death. The French president returned to the islands this week to play emperor but

The bizarre sexual politics of the French

‘More sex please, we’re French,’ declared, in effect, France’s president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, demanding that his compatriots counteract a catastrophically collapsing birth rate. France’s fertility is at its lowest level since the end of World War II — perhaps ironically, since the French consider themselves the world’s greatest lovers. Macron has announced a ‘demographic

Will under-13 curfews really make France safer?

Rebecca, a British friend who taught theatre studies at a celebrated English public school before she was brutally sacked during the pandemic, moved to France and looked for a job. After putting out feelers, she got a phone call from the director of a lycée (high school) in a socially challenging neighbourhood of Béziers, a city in the

French bureaucracy cannot be defeated

When Emmanuel Macron launched his campaign to win the French presidency eight years ago, he promised to cut the number of civil servants in France by 50,000 and impose fundamental reforms on the bloated state. So how’s that going? In 2017 when Macron was elected there were 5.6 million fonctionnaires. By 2021 there were 5.7 million.

The real reason French spies aren’t caught in honeytraps

French spies are impossible to blackmail in honeytraps because their wives already know they’re having affairs. And if you believe this, I have a tower in Paris to sell you. The source for this story is wafer thin yet nevertheless it has attracted prurient attention worldwide. It was ‘revealed’ on Tuesday night in a documentary screened

Will the Seine be safe for the summer Olympics?

Emmanuel Macron’s promise to strip off to his Speedos and swim in the Seine to prove it is safe for athletes has yet to be delivered. The Olympic Games commence in July and the river remains essentially a sewer. Although the water quality is supposedly getting better as the rains are relenting, Macron is wise

How Brigitte Macron captured the Elysée

As Emmanuel Macron approaches the end of the second year since his re-election, his presidency seems to have become a cosplay. Out is Macron the policy wonk, mansplaining interminably. In is Macron the action man.  What might be behind this remarkable transformation? Brigitte, say the Elysée-ologists. President Macron’s wife, his high school drama teacher, 24 years

Macron has spied an easy win with his assisted dying Bill

Emmanuel Macron was predictably theatrical when he introduced his Bill on the end of life yesterday. In the proposed legislation, medical staff would be authorised to help their patients to die – which Macron described as a law of ‘fraternity’. He pronounced: ‘With this text, we look death in the face.’ A guaranteed headline in

The invasion of the vineyard robots

‘Autonomous machine operating here,’ says the sign. ‘Stay away.’ And instead of the chatter of the vendangeuses, there’s the hum of a robot. Welcome to southern France, 2024, just down the lane from my house, where, walking the dogs among the vines, I stumble upon Ted, a compact, green and white, battery-powered cultivator, guided by GPS satellites.

Journalists are out to censor the French GB News

Left-wing journalists have won a huge battle in France against CNews, the country’s most popular news channel. France’s Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, has given the media regulator Arcom six months to investigate the channel to determine whether or not it is keeping to strict rules on balanced and independent journalism. CNews is one

French cheese is dying. Good riddance

Every Thursday morning at Washington Dulles Airport, a French government Airbus disgorges a metal freight container under diplomatic seal. Bypassing US customs inspection, it is transported directly to the French Embassy compound in Georgetown. At midday, elite French diplomats gather to watch as the precious content is unsealed. Spain thrashed France at the 2023 World Cheese

Embrace your Franglais, mes amis

Having breakfast at a hotel in the chouette Eighth Arrondisement of Paris last weekend, and employing what I imagine to be my faultless French, I asked for a boiled egg, ‘un oeuf à la coque.’ The waitress asked, did I want glaçons (ice) with that? Err, no, I replied, bemused. The waitress then brought me a bottle of Coca-Cola.

France’s farmers’ revolt isn’t all it seems

The toll station on the A9 motorway near the French-Spanish border is closed with cones and guarded by the local gendarmes. A few dozen trucks are parked on the grass verges, waiting for the farmers’ barricades to open. The farmers themselves have gone, heading north to barricade Montpellier. The autoroute is utterly, weirdly silent. A thundering

What the French get right about healthcare

Senior management was recently walking down the street and took a funny turn. With her habitual stoicism she ignored the swelling in her foot for two weeks until I finally persuaded her to go to the urgences (emergency room) at the local Polyclinique Pasteur, a mini-hospital in Pézenas, the town four miles from our village. 

The endless narcissism of Emmanuel Macron

I watched Emmanuel Macron’s prime time press conference last night but I wish I hadn’t. It was meant to be Macron’s relaunch of his presidency after a tough period of soaring prices, international and civil disorder, Europe in turmoil and awful polls. I should have known better than to stay up past my usual bedtime.

When did flying lose its glamour?

As we celebrate 120 years of aviation with a plug door and several iPhones tumbling from an in-flight spanking-new Boeing 737 Max, and a new Airbus A350 burning to a cinder in Tokyo, it is fair to note that not a single passenger was killed in either incident (although four Japanese coast guards perished on