First published: July 1996
Some years ago the Financial Times ran an exceptionally instructive back page interview with Jean Marie Le Pen, the leader of the extreme right wing French National Front. It was instructive, not because of what it told the reader about Le Pen, but for what it reflected about the thinking of the Financial Times.
The article was entitled ‘Militant bourgeois’. The tone of the interview was precisely expressed by its title. It sought to foster toleration among the FT’s readers of Le Pen as a ‘militant’ representative of a ‘bourgeois’ political force – without, of course, endorsing his more obscurantist, racist and anti-semitic views. The approach was to create the kind of attitude to Le Pen among FT readers, that might have been found among militant car workers in the 1970s to a ‘communist’ shop steward – ‘we don’t agree with a lot of their ideas, but they are useful to have on our side in a fight with the class enemy.’