Sparks fly between Jean-Marie Le Pen and his 'moderate' daughter Marine after 'oven' comment

 

Paris

France was spellbound on Monday by a spectacular public row between the Front National (FN) leader Marine Le Pen and her father, Jean-Marie, the party’s founder, over apparent anti-Semitism.

In a radio interview, Mr Le Pen, 85, accused his daughter of making a “mistake” by “aligning” the far-right party with “conventional political thinking”. He said that Marine’s wider movement – the Rassemblement Bleu Marine, which includes nationalist but anti-racist FN sympathisers – was “bizarre and incoherent”.

Earlier, Marine Le Pen, who has tried to clean up the party since she became leader three years ago, had taken the unprecedented step of taking her father to task. She described as a “political mistake” an apparently anti-Semitic and Holocaust-mocking jibe made by Mr Le Pen, the party’s honorary president for life, on the FN website.

A fortnight after the European elections, in which Ms Le Pen, 45, took the party to its first victory in a nationwide poll, relations between father and would-be “moderate” daughter appear to have hit the rocks. Asked live on radio whether he had fallen out with the youngest of his three daughters, Mr Le Pen harrumphed: “Mmm… No comment.”

 

In a video diary on the party’s website at the weekend, Mr Le Pen said that he wanted to make a “fournée” – which can refer to a “baker’s oven” or “batch”, but in the context of the remarks suggests an  “oven” or an “ovenful” – of the anti-FN, Jewish pop singer and actor Patrick Bruel.

In his interview with Radio Monte Carlo on Monday, Mr Le Pen insisted that there was nothing “remotely” anti-Semitic in this remark. Critics said that the phrase was clearly intended as a joking reference to the Nazis’ burning of Jewish bodies in death camps during the Second World War. Mr Le Pen has previous convictions for inciting racial hatred.

Two French anti-racist organisations have announced that they intend to bring a new legal case against Mr Le Pen for anti-Semitism and mocking the Holocaust.

Marine Le Pen said that her father’s comments had been “deliberately misinterpreted” but he had committed a “political mistake” in using such a loaded word.

Previously, the deputy head of the FN, Louis Aliot, had described Mr Le Pen’s remarks as “stupid and disturbing”. Mr Le Pen dismissed Mr Aliot – who is his daughter’s romantic partner as well as the party’s No 2 – as an “imbecile”.

Although there have been reports of growing tension between father and daughter, they have never previously attacked each other in public. Mr Le Pen’s diatribe on Monday made him sound like a latter-day King Lear – a man who bequeathed his kingdom to his daughter and then regretted it.

Mr Le Pen said that the “new FN leadership” – in other words, Marine and allies – “want to be just like other political parties. If that’s what they want, they have succeeded. But it’s they who are making a political mistake not me.”

Political commentators in France were divided yesterday about the significance of the row. The respected centre-left newspaper Le Monde said that Mr Le Pen had damaged his daughter’s hopes of seriously challenging for the French presidency in 2017.  He had torn away her cloak of respectability and “exposed the party’s origins” and its “radical far-right core”.

The right-wing newspaper Le Figaro said that Mr Le Pen might unwillingly have done his daughter a political favour. He had given her an opportunity to emerge as the “true boss of the party” and reject her father’s extremist and “backward-looking” legacy.

Other FN-watchers said that the consequences of the bust-up would be more complex. Jean-Marie Le Pen was a sincere extremist who had always preferred to be “pure” rather than compromise in the pursuit of power.

Marine Le Pen had been revealed as a politician like any other, prepared to do what was necessary to win. This might please some voters but would anger many FN diehards.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent