I went to Paris this weekend for a break and to find out how things stand there.
After mustering three million in the streets, and several weeks of strikes, the French "social movement" has gone rather quiet (by French standards). Nevertheless, I found a small demo on a street corner outside a Metro station (Pernety in the 14e arrondissement); it was a reunion of people who have been involved in the campaign to stop the pension age and contributions requirement being extended.
They made an inventory of all the big dates and important landmarks in the campaign and vowed that although the law has been passed it can still be abrogated. With 71% of people opposing the pensions changes, the French social movement still feels there is a lot to play for.
And how about this? Someone said, I heard them distinctly, "and now things are moving in the UK" (actually: "ça bouge en Angleterre"). Coming from a French socialist, this is really something to hear!
Let's be clear, things need to move an awful lot more in the UK in order to mitigate the horrors that are being prepared for us, but, yes, I do believe that things are moving.
For instance, tomorrow is the second national day of action by students and school pupils. I hope that they have thought of some more creative things to do to show their anger tomorrow than last week; I am not getting at them for jumping up and down on a conveniently placed police van. I'm just telling them to avoid getting "kettled" again: eight hours in temperatures such as are predicted tomorrow is going to be downright dangerous.
And if the police try that again, I hope parents and passers-by will intercede on the young people's behalf. They do have a right to protest against what is happening to them without being frozen half to death.
More details about the campaign at the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.