Call the National Front far right and we’ll sue you, warns Le Pen

 

Paris

As she surges to new heights in opinion polls, the National Front leader Marine Le Pen has threatened to sue journalists who describe her party as far right.

“They put us in the same bag as [mass murderer Anders] Breivik and [the Greek neo-Nazi party] Golden Dawn. They shake up the bag and try to give us a filthy image,” Ms Le Pen said.

From now on, she warned, she would sue any journalist who waged “linguistic war” on her party. It is not just her cleaned-up version of the National Front which should never be described as far right, she said. She claimed – against the historical record – that the “nationalist” party founded by her father 41 years ago had never had links with the extremes of fascism or Nazism.

French newspapers and Socialist politicians immediately rose to Ms Le Pen’s challenge yesterday. Thousands of people joined in a Twitter campaign, started by a Socialist MP, to declare: “The National Front and Marine Le Pen are far right”.

In a front page editorial, the centre-left newspaper Le Monde said: “Let’s state it again clearly. By its position on the chess-board of French politics, in its ideas and its policies, the National Front is, today as yesterday, a movement of the extreme right.”

The centrist newspaper Le Parisien traced the origins of the National Front in the early 1970s to a coalition of anti-state populists, Catholic fundamentalists, neo-fascists, former SS members and Nazi collaborators.

Ms Le Pen has objected to the term “far right” ever since she succeeded her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, as the leader of the NF almost three years ago. Her threat to sue the media is a new phase in a highly successful campaign to “de-demonise” the party by expelling outright racists and abandoning the coded, and open, anti-Semitic remarks of her father.

As President François Hollande struggles for credibility and the centre-right opposition engages mostly in internal brawls, Ms Le Pen’s poll ratings have risen sharply in recent months. In a TNS-Sofres poll published by Le Figaro yesterday, 33 per cent of those questioned said they would like to see her play an important role in the years ahead.

This made her third equal with three leading centre-right politicians. As the “future face” of French politics, she was beaten only by the former President Nicolas Sarkozy (35 per cent) and the rising star of the left, the Interior Minister, Manuel Valls (43 per cent). Another recent poll, however, suggested that 70 per cent of French people would never vote for Marine Le Pen. Hence her latest move in the “de-demonisation” campaign.

Whether suing the media is good PR remains open to question, though. Her father brought similar law suits in 1995. The courts refused even to consider his political arguments which distinguished between “nationalism” and “populism”, on the one hand, and a xenophobic far or extreme right on the other. They said any attempt to “censor the vocabulary of journalism” would be an “abuse of the law”.

Since taking charge, Ms Le Pen has moved the party to the left on social questions such as divorce, abortion and gay rights, and she did not campaign against gay marriage. Her new focus – anti-immigrant, anti-Brussels, anti-Islam – has drawn fresh support. But critics insist that the party’s DNA remains largely that of the neo-fascists, anti-Semites, anti-government populists and Vichy sympathisers who founded the party in 1972.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable