The Borneo Post (Sabah)
Bannon tells French far-right: ‘history is on our side’
LILLE, France: Former top Trump aide Steve Bannon told the French far right that ‘history is on our side’ as he addressed the party conference of a National Front that is seeking to bounce back from crushing electoral setbacks.
“The tide of history is with us and it will compel us to victory after victory, after victory,” Bannon, once a powerful figure in the Trump administration and former head of Breitbart News, told the FN conference in its northern stronghold of Lille.
“Let them call you racists, let them call you xenophobes, let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day we get stronger and they get weaker,” Bannon said in an address which drew strong applause from FN leader Marine Le Pen.
Le Pen, who will wind up the gathering with a speech, suffered a bruising loss to centrist Emmanuel Macron in last year’s presidential poll and the party won only eight seats in the general election that followed.
Her poor showing in a final TV debate against Macron raised questions about her fitness to lead one of the world’s biggest economies and in the months since both party and leader have appeared somewhat deflated.
Le Pen arrived in Lille having vowed to ditch the tainted FN brand, seen as a key hurdle to winning power, in favour of an as yet unannounced new name.
The party canvassed 51,000 members last year about the name change proposal and it emerged that just 52 per cent had voted in favour among the 30,000 who responded. That compared with 90 per cent of respondents wanting a referendum on continued EU membership and 98 per cent wanting to cut immigration to France.
Bannon, who has repeatedly expressed support for Europe’s far-right movements, fired the opening salvo at the gathering – after the head of Macron’s Republic on the Move party, Christophe Castaner, had earlier dubbed him ‘the king of fake news and of white supremacists’.
Bannon said he agreed with Le Pen’s expressed belief that ‘it is not about left versus right,’ while blaming the media for having ‘always kept us out of power’.
Warming to his theme, Bannon added: “You argue for sovereignty and they call you a nativist. You argue for your freedom and they call you a xenophobe. You argue for your country and they call you a racist. But the days of that smear are over.” — AFP