A boost for Marine Le Pen. In electoral terms, the National Front has a record of flattering to deceive. But the scale of Friday’s horror and the threat of more slaughter to come will do nothing to depress its vote. The Charlie Hebdo massacre, however barbarous, was not aimed at the general public. Friday’s slaughter was – and it is hard to see how Le Pen’s support will not grow in consequence.
A blow for Angela Merkel. The German Chancellor’s worldview has been shaped by growing up in a divided Germany, the world war that caused the split, and the naziism that caused the war. Her September declaration that refugees are welcome in Germany must be seen in that context. But this vision of what the country should be looks increasingly out of date, and is clearly at odds with the mood of many of its citizens. Her remarks have unsettled her own party and drawn a rebuke from her Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. No wonder that her government is already rowing back. On the one hand, she declares “Wir schaffen das” (“We can do it”.) On the other, Germany has cut cash payments for refugees and is seeking to repatriate some of them.
More Europe-wide security measures. In the aftermath of the Jewish Museum shootings in Brussels and the Charlie Hebdo killings, there were calls to increase internet surveillance, pass new laws to criminalise foreign fighters, and share more data with police (such as customer details for international flights). France has already introduced new terror offences. Expect further action, and other countries to follow.
No Commons vote on bombing Syria. It may be that public anger at the Paris horror helps to shift the mood in Parliament, that David Cameron decides to hold a Commons vote, and that there are British air strikes against ISIS in Syria in consequence. But this is unlikely, and not simply because Jeremy Corbyn is opposed to them. There was unease among some Conservative MPs at the prospect even before Putin’s recent military intervention in the country. This will have been boosted by the presence of Russian troops and planes there: the Foreign Affairs Select Committee has argued strongly against bombing ISIS in Syria. My hunch is that most voters will conclude that such action can only increase the domestic Islamist terror threat, itself already deadly serious, and that MPs will follow where public opinion leads.
A push to toughen up the Investigatory Powers Bill? With a Government majority of only 12, an activist House of Lords and no recent domestic mass-scale terror attack, the Bill is likely to pass in the watered-down form in which it was recently presented – or something very like it. But it would be surprising were not claims to emerge in the media, during the next few days, that it now needs to be watered back up again.
For the moment, rising opposition to immigration. In the future, an end to free movement? ConservativeHome argued in September, during a wave of Twitter sentiment for admitting more migrants, that policy must not be settled by hashtags. We also pointed out that there is no evidence that most voters want to admit refugees on the scale that the Government now proposes. It is unjust and dangerous to muddle migration into Britain – let alone the entry of refugees – with Islamist extremism, violent or otherwise. None the less, that is what many voters already do, and more will do so after Friday’s events, abroad as well as here. David Cameron and George Osborne may well feel that by 2017 more of our EU partners will be ready for more restrictions on free movement – an argument for playing the renegotiation and referendum long.