ON THURSDAY evening French president Emmanuel Macron finally made a public address outlining his response to the revolutionary uprising of workers, youth and the rural poor against his plans to impose ‘reforms’ on the French economy.
This address followed a month of ‘consultation’ by Macron across the country allegedly to listen to the concerns of the people but really designed to prove that, instead of being the aloof, arrogant ex-banker determined to smash the rights and conditions of every worker in France, he was in fact a listening, caring president.
It was a desperate attempt to head off the Yellow Vest movement which is growing increasingly insurrectionary and determined to bring Macron down.
His speech made a number of minor concessions – mainly vague promises about reforming parliament and promising tax cuts for the middle classes.
He vowed to lower taxes, raise pensions and give more power to local government saying: ‘There are parts of society that have fallen by the wayside. People who to some degree have been forgotten from our public discourse and our public policies.’
But Macron insisted any cuts in income tax and any increase in public spending would have to be funded by further spending cuts and by forcing French workers to work harder and put in longer hours.
Macron insisted that the policy of inflicting austerity on French workers is absolutely correct and, that far from changing course, he intends to speed up his attacks while categorically refusing to reinstate the wealth tax on the rich.
He said: ‘I asked myself: Should we stop everything that was done over the past two years? Did we take a wrong turn? I believe quite the opposite.’
On the Yellow Vest movement, Macron said: ‘I recognise and I respect the Yellow Vests who came out onto the streets at the beginning of this crisis, and those who sympathised with them. But I will not give in to those who want to destroy institutions, who want the worst and who want to riot.’
French workers and youth are not to be appeased by Macron’s new found ‘humility’ which just masks the arrogant bourgeois determined to make the working class pay for the crisis of French capitalism.
The head of France’s biggest union, the CGT, Philippe Martinez dismissed Macron’s speech saying: ‘Nothing satisfactory came from the president’s mouth about salaries, minimum wage, wealth tax, or fiscal justice’.
Maxime Nicolle, a Yellow Vest leader, said: ‘He started his speech by saying everything he has done over the last two years has been great and the Yellow Vests just don’t understand that. We understand very well; he is incapable of a mea culpa.’
French workers and youth understand only too well that Macron is planning to step up his austerity attacks on the working class and crush the insurgent movement of the Yellow Vests by unleashing upon them even more brutality at the hands of the riot police.
That is what Macron means when he talks of ‘not giving in’ – he is declaring civil war on the Yellow Vests and on the entire French working class.
Although Macron made his speech on Thursday – it had been due to be made on Monday last week but was called off at the last moment because of the Notre Dame fire – details had been widely leaked.
The working class demonstrated their refusal to be bought off by Macron or intimidated by police violence on Saturday when more than 23,000 Yellow Vests marched throughout France, with 9,000 demonstrating in Paris alone carrying placards reading: ‘Millions for Notre Dame, What about the poor?’
The demand now is not for paltry concessions but to bring down Macron and his entire government and this demand will be taken up by millions as Macron steps up his austerity attacks.
In Britain, the working class must support French workers in their fight against Macron and his pro-EU policies of permanent austerity by demanding action to break with the EU now and unite with the workers of France and across Europe to bring down the EU and replace it with the Socialist United States of Europe!