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Sunday, May 1, 2022

French Elections, Is the Pandemic over, Boris fails again

French Presidential Elections

I was very very worried that France would go the same way as a small but growing number of democracies where the people have of their free will chosen to put extremists into power. In the first round of the French elections, there were 12 candidates to chose from and the results were roughly in line with expectations except for the fact that the two traditional parties, the centre-right Republicans and the Socialists (who have ruled for pretty much of the 5th Republic until Macron came along 5 years ago) were both reduced to almost nothing with less than 5% each.

The three leading candidates (by far) were the centrist Emmanuel Macron (28%), The far right Marine Le Pen (23%) and the far left Jean-Luc Mélenchon (22%). The next candidate got only 7%, so the three favourites were clear.

Worryingly, 2 weeks later and after a live TV debate in which Macron was so clearly outclassing Le Pen on virtually every topic, the second and deciding round was fairly close: Macron 58%, Len Pen 42%. Given that there was a clear bias towards Macron in the over 60s age group, the future is looking ever more worrying!

As a Frenchman living in the UK, I am proud to say the UK based French voted 93% Macron!

 Is the Pandemic over?

As we return to 'normal' in the UK, it would be easy to think it's all over. 

We should be concerned that the 'Zero-Covid' policy pursued in China (and other places) may turn out to be ineffective, resulting in new mass lockdown and deaths. What impact will this policy have on global trade and will it push many countries into recession at a time where even basic food and fuel is becoming unaffordable for millions worldwide?

In Shanghai, residents who have been locked down for weeks are suffering food shortages and inhumane treatment from authorities. The censors have been unable to catch up with the volume of stuff being posted on social media.  This is not good for anyone.

Food shortages in Shanghai shown on a BBC video

In Oxford, the city was open again this morning for the first May Day celebrations for 3 years. From 4am, at the top of Magdalen Tower! About 12,500 people turned up for the first time since 2019.

Boris' Piss-Poor Energy Strategy

Well yes of course there is Partygate and hopefully he will be punished in the forthcoming local elections. But of far more strategic importance is the world's attitude towards fossil fuels and our environment.

I was alarmed and dismayed to see that the focus of the UK's new energy strategy, announced on April 7th, revolves around developing more wind and renewables and re-investigating fracking. Whilst I am very much in favour of more renewables and I believe there is still a medium term role for nuclear, the single quickest and biggest strategy shift that would reduce people's energy bills was not even mentioned: energy reduction through efficiency and insulation. 

Example from Canada (where the weather is often cold!)

We know that homes can be built today that use no energy whatsoever. Homes can also be built that are so well insulated that they use 50% or 75% less energy that today's average. We know that older properties can be retrofitted to make substantial reductions. Surely we should be focusing on reducing our usage as much as on generating power from new sources?

Am I missing something? How can our leaders be so utterly incompetent as to not address this? Please could Emmanuel Macron run the UK as well as France? 

I will write my latest thoughts on the war in Ukraine in my next blog. In the meantime, here is a quote from George Orwell that summarises the approach the Russians are taking to their propaganda:

"The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth" George Orwell, 1984

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