European Socialists are cowards, former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told a Brussels soirée last week.
Valls, who served under François Hollande and is himself a part-time Socialist of sorts, said the crisis of the Left was attributable to “cowardliness” and a “strategic error”: an unwillingness to stand up for free speech.
“It’s time to say stop!” Valls told his audience at the Café Laïque, just down the road from the European Commission. If no-one was willing to speak “inconvenient truths” out loud, Europe and France would soon be “submerged” by the forces of censorship.
In the French context, he clarified, censorship and Islam were intricately connected. The Left that founded the French Republic was now afraid to stand up for one of its core principles: secularism, or laïcité.
You seldom hear speeches of this type in the EU bubble nowadays; it is unlikely to earn Valls any friends. Other than two dozen francophones who turned up, few are listening. That said, credit where credit is due.