Jean-Christophe Cambadélis: “Christiane Taubira is a divisive factor”

He is not the black baron of the left, but what has he not seen in fifty years of activism, from his Trotskyist beginnings to the corridors of the Socialist Party! Jean-Christophe Cambadélis publishes the 20 January Yesterday, today and tomorrow: a political life in the novel of the left (VA editions , 157p.), the story of the one who was one of the faces of UNEF over the years 49 but also someone close to Pierre Maurois, Lionel Jospin, Michel Rocard or François Hollande. While the left, and particularly the PS, are on the edge of the abyss, the alchemist of the plural left in 1997 fears that his political family will disappear completely .

L’Express: Anne Hidalgo presented her program on Thursday but she had a bad day, exfiltrated from the teachers’ demonstration under boos and insults. She was also dropped by Benoît Payan, the PS mayor of Marseille. Some socialists say it’s time to signal the end of recess. Do you understand them?

Jean-Christophe Cambadélis: Events must be deconstructed. Being whistled at in a protest happens to everyone. It happened to Jean-Luc Mélenchon a short time ago. I see there the exasperation of a social movement which claims to be better considered by all. As for Benoît Payan, who is a young man full of future, he is just as prisoner of his local majority. It is composite, there are ecologists, socialists, rebels. He cannot be the one who takes him behind an application. This is its strength and its weakness.

“Why do we have to go after her when she is only 5% in the polls and sometimes less”

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Let’s stop overinterpreting events that prevent Anne Hidalgo from install his candidacy. We can have disagreements with her, but this media beating is excessive and incomprehensible in view of the polls. Why do we have to go after her when she is only 5% in the polls and sometimes less? I have the impression that some are trying to kill social democracy…

Are you talking about Yannick Jadot? He multiplies the small attacks, often filled with contempt, with regard to Anne Hidalgo and the Socialist Party.

If the unity has not been achieved, it is only because the ecologists have refused it from the start. Yannick Jadot had tried it a year ago, while saying at the time that he would not submit to a primary because it would be a trap. At the same time, during a unit meeting, Julien Bayou indicated that there would be a primary environmentalists anyway. Basically, Yannick Jadot is a realist but he is weighed down by the radicalism of Sandrine Rousseau who nevertheless made 49% in the environmental primary while the entire political apparatus called to vote for him. He is the prisoner of a radicality that is not his own and is forced to constantly offer him pledges. Jadot’s little phrases are a necessary concession to the radicals of his party. Today, this is what prevents him from being a unifier. The left cannot unite on radicalism.

Christiane Taubira formalizes this Saturday morning his candidacy for the presidential election. Can she change the situation?

On the left, there are those who refuse unity when they know they will be eliminated, and those who use a nice idea of ​​unity to eliminate the first. It’s unreadable. The popular primary is a nice concept but its organization is baroque. We can not say that it will unite because it becomes the vector of an additional candidacy – too much, perhaps – on the left, that of Christiane Taubira. Everyone respects her on the left but she is now a factor of more divisions.

“The left is dated, divided and radicalized”

Why the union of the left seems impossible?

One of the problems of the left today is with the leaders of the political apparatuses: they are suffering from the disease of tacticism. They do not turn to the French, they do not talk about the concerns of France and prefer to play the survival of their formation. The consequence is that the majority of abstention is on the left. Voters do not recognize themselves in these dismal mess. Let’s look at the ecologists: they are fundamentally not interested in the presidential election or in the place of the extreme right. What they want is a new age of the left or the domination of ecology over social democracy. La France insoumise, it seeks only to stay ahead to embody a pole of radicalism around which the left could supposedly rebuild itself. As for Fabien Roussel and the Communists, they fear nothing more than being sucked in by the rebellious or the Socialists. Everyone is playing tactics when they should be playing strategy by asking only one question: what does France need?

The left is dated, divided and radicalized. It is dated because it lives on concepts forged over the years 56 which allowed him to come to power in the years 80 but which have never been revisited. It is radicalized both socially and in political expressions. Unity is a strategic issue. A crumbled left, with all due respect to Jean-Luc Mélenchon, cannot aspire to the conquest of power. Today, it participates in the archipelization of French political life.

“Radicality cannot be the central body of a left when exclusionary nationalism is at the gates of power”

You had succeeded in 1969. Commissioned by Michel Rocard, you were the alchemist of what was then called the plural left…

With Lionel Jospin, we were working at the time at the union of the left. It was a question of a new formula to blow up the divisions by appealing to 375 personalities who represented all shades of the left. With the foundations of social transformation, we created a space for confrontation, exchanges and debates between all the forces of the left and well beyond the political apparatuses. The 4 or 5 meetings created the conditions for the plural left. Unity is a dialectic between an identity and a content. One does not go without the other. The problem of the whole of the left today is also the excessive weakness of the PS. There is no longer any order factor. We want to unite the left on its margins at a time when the country is turning right or even extreme right. Radicality cannot be the central body of a left when exclusionary nationalism is at the gates of power.

Michel Rocard in 1993 with Jean-Christophe Cambadélis (top left), Benoît Hamon (left) and Manuel Valls (right).

Marc Riboud

But there is also a left of exclusion. Look at the communist Fabien Roussel who demanded that the most modest French people have access to “good wine” and “good meat”: he was the target of attacks by environmental activists who accused him of making calls from the foot to the identity right…

I would have liked all leftists to be more virulent with Eric Zemmour or Marine Le Pen rather than with Anne Hidalgo or Fabien Roussel. I remind you that he has the experience and the field of vision of a popular left, he comes from Pas-de-Calais. As long as the left considers that the enemy is its neighbor next door, it will not have the ability to lead. Those who attacked Fabien Roussel, and I am thinking in particular of Sandrine Rousseau, are in an ideological battle which banishes the working classes from society. It is a radicalism of exclusion.

In his Memoirs , Léon Blum already denounces a “class selfishness ” of some on the left…

It is found today in the wokist and cancel culture movements. Wokism is not the future of the left but its tomb. In the years 70, François Mitterrand would not run after us, we the leaders of the extreme left. He preferred to return first and foremost to the social question. It is this which reorders the left. We must build a realistic and responsible political offer in order to refer these movements to university circles and nothing more. No concession is possible without which the left would not be able to offer an exhilarating perspective for the transformation of society, of the country. Today, the left has nothing to offer but a series of excommunications carried out by the supporters of the cancel culture who prefer to attack their allies rather than the far right. It is necessary for the left to defend a culture, a history, a tradition I would even dare; while renewing it.

“The leftists are irresponsible because they don’t have the courage to govern”

Manuel Valls writes that some on the left, by their radicalism, precipitated the arrival of Éric Zemmour…

I disagree with him. It has its own radicalism. There are no slingers without Manuel Valls, there is no Manuel Valls without slingers. They fed, built. Its strategy is elsewhere today. He advocates an alliance between Valérie Pécresse and Emmanuel Macron. We cannot say that it is a “left” response to the emergence of Eric Zemmour. I believe we need to republicanize our discourse on security and immigration issues rather than shun them. But we must not make these two subjects the central problem of France. No, the central problem of France is social! If the left is incapable of carrying this fight loud and clear, then it leaves the ideological terrain to the extreme right.

You publish Yesterday, today and tomorrow: a political life in the novel of the left (VA editions, 119p.), a book telling your fifty years as a militant leftist, from Trotskyism to the Socialist Party. Do you remember such a stampede?

No, not at that level. There was indeed Gaston Defferre and his 5% in 1969 but the communist Jacques Duclos had still harvested 20 % of votes. Today, none of the candidates on the left are certain to exceed the 10%. I can’t bring myself to see the left disappear. What is at stake is dizzying. If none of the candidates is in the second round, we will not retain the one who will have won the small bath championship because he is the first on the left. We will only remember that it is below 21% and she is forced to choose the one she hates the least. It will be an earthquake. The political left is about to disappear because we will have a response to the legislative elections. Without the left, France is no longer France. This current has brought so much to the Republic and to the French in terms of social progress.

However, I do not believe that the lefts are irreconcilable. They are irresponsible in the literal sense: they do not have the courage to govern, they prefer to take refuge in local mandates or in denunciation. But what makes the salt of the left is the concrete transformation of our societies: more justice, more social, more ecology. This book is the novel of my adventures on the left but above all a way to say that France absolutely needs the left.



By François Bazin


Christophe Donner


Christophe Donner


By Sylvain Fort