Emmanuel Macron seems to be representing the liberal thinking fight back. He has words for anti-Brexit Brits, and he has words for fighting the rise of nationalism.
The odds that Mr Macron will be the next President of France are good. All he really has to do, if the opinion polls are even vaguely right, is come second in the first round of the French election, which he is expected to do. The polls show that in a straight tussle with Marine Le Pen, he would win hands down.
Okay, opinion polls get it wrong, as we keep being told, but to get this one wrong, they will have to be out by a huge margin.
But don’t confuse Macron for a neo-liberal, that have become so unpopular. He is a socialist independent candidate, was a member of the Hollande cabinet, he is liberal with a small ‘l’, meaning he stands for tolerance and global cooperation.
He has been making headlines for what he said about Brexit Britain.
“I was very happy to see that some academics and researchers in the UK, because of Brexit, are considering coming to France to work," he said yesterday.
He added: “It will be part of my programme to be attractive for these kinds of people. I want banks, talents, researchers, academics and so on. I think that France and the European Union are a very attractive space now, so in my programme I will do everything I can to make it attractive and successful."
Well, that did not go down well with the Brexit camp. But if you make your mark by calling for closed borders, you can’t complain if some people want to move beyond those borders.
He also says that the UK should not have access to the single market unless it respects its four freedoms, which includes movement of labour.
But Macron also talked about how he would adopt a very different strategy to those adopted by Hillary Clinton and David Cameron, in their respective failed referendums/elections.
Both Cameron and Clinton fell into the trap of using the language of their opponents. Brexit will mean this, Trump policies mean that, and in so doing they drew attention to the opposing campaign.
What they did not do, is frame their ideas in positives. Even when Mrs Clinton said she wanted to “build bridges not walls” she was tacitly referring to Donald Trump. During the EU referendum, David Cameron’s case for the EU seemed to boil down to saying: “it isn’t that bad, and does more good than harm.”
The US linguistic George Lakoff is making a lot of noise about this at the moment. Donald Trump is a very clever strategist, he suggests, framing his statements so as to emphasise his core messages, turning his opponents’ messages against them, accusing the media, for example, of peddling fake news.
Mr Macron promises he will talk about the positives of his ideology, not the weaknesses in those advanced by his opponents.
We can only watch his campaign and see if it pans out like that.
Unfortunately for liberal minded Brits, it seems the best hope for their ideology lies with a man, who is, shall we say, unsympathetic to post Brexit Britain.
If the May government is not careful, it will end up putting Britain on a course that is diametrically opposed to the forces that are fighting back against the likes of Trump, Le Pen and Nigel Farage.
For more on George Lakoff see Marketing Is All About Frames, So Put Your Products In the Picture