I’VE always admired the French way of protesting. No messing about, on to the streets in vast numbers and to hell with the general inconvenience to those not on side.

That it’s usually the government that is the focus of the protesters’ ire only ups the ante in this pull-no-punches approach.

In fact, there’s probably some truth in the old maxim that French politicians almost expect citizens to protest, and French citizens in turn don’t hesitate to express their disappointment or anger in the streets.

Gallic political culture has often been described as “contentious” and, as a young political opposition activist back in the days of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, the very expression “taking to the cobbles” was my own generation’s way of doffing the chapeau to the French way of doing things.

I couldn’t help thinking again of this French style of protest yesterday as half a million workers went on strike across the UK. Such music to my ears, too, that Professor Gregor Gall, writing in this newspaper, made the case for public sector unions to take “French lessons” by mobilising millions on the streets to exert and possibly even topple the Tory government.

For if ever there was a time for taking our politics to the streets, then this is it.

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As a specialist in trade union and labour movement politics, Professor Gall also highlighted how such a strategy is not without its risks.

But few, I’m sure, would disagree that such risks are worth taking when faced with this rapacious Tory government and its continued attacks on workers’ rights. Rarely has there ever been a more pressing time for every single one of us who values our workplace and so many other rights this Tory government rides roughshod over to let them know that enough is enough.

Now, then, is that moment to take to the streets in the largest numbers possible to ram that point home to Rishi Sunak and the predatory cabal that surrounds him. And why stop there? Here in Scotland, that same mass mobilisation needs also to make its presence felt time and again on the streets, sending out a clear message to the UK Government that Scotland will never rest until it has the opportunity to choose its own political destiny.

Yes, I know that there will be those who will say that mass demonstration has been undertaken before and achieved next to nothing. That it takes more than folk on the streets to repeal anti-trade union legislation, improve wages and conditions or indeed achieve Scottish independence.

But we should never underestimate the leverage such protests can bring to bear alongside other solid political groundwork. The French have long since learned this.

They understand that voting is not the only means of popular political expression. They recognise that a demonstration expresses dissatisfaction with government policy and that collective action works.

As a result, France seems like a country that regularly confirms its popular image as a place that has never quite left behind its radical 1789 revolution. A place where strikes and protests are the order of the day, a nation whose angry masses have as much influence over their discredited leaders as social movements.

I’ve heard people ask why it is that when things, generally speaking, are so much better in France than the UK, that its citizens feel the compulsion to take to the boulevards at the drop of a chapeau?

The answer is obvious in that it’s precisely because of this readiness and willingness to take to the cobbles – and on historic moments dig them up for throwing – that things are better in France.

The fact is I just can’t help feeling that if French president Emmanuel Macron were in the shoes of any number of Tory politicians right now, from Sunak to Zahawi, Johnson to Braverman, he’d probably be expecting the present-day political equivalent of la guillotine, tout suite.

Over this past week or so, Macron’s unpopular plan to raise the retirement age by two years to 64 has ignited what was an already simmering debate in this egalitarian-minded country.On Tuesday, just a day before 500,000 workers were on strike in the UK, France saw its own trade unions holding a massive strike which drew hundreds of thousands of people on to the streets across the country.

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Those within their ranks and certainly those of a left-leaning disposition agreed that taxing the super-rich would be a better way to plug deficits in France’s state-run pension system.

“This a moment to fight for the kind of society we want – not one where capital crushes labour and people are just consumers,” said Francois Ruffin, a prominent figure in the left-wing Nupes alliance.

If ever a remark pointed the way as to how we should be responding here in the UK right now, then this is it. For so many French citizens, Macron is perceived as the “president of the rich” in much the same way as Sunak is and those around him.

But for those French taking to the streets over pensions, it’s not simply about this single issue but about what they see as the wider threat to social justice. This is part of a broader battle against an economic platform they perceive as unfair. Also sound familiar?

Already Macron has staked his reformist credentials on passage of his flagship pension overhaul, which polls say around two-thirds of the French now oppose – a figure that has risen steadily in recent weeks.

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Right now, there are certain similarities between France’s ongoing pension grievance and perceived threats to social justice and what is happening in the UK.

But while the issues on both sides of the Channel reflect a likeness in concerns, it will be the response in France and the collective sense of action that will hold the government’s feet to the fire and most likely achieve concessions from the Elysee Palace.

The same will only be achieved here when people take seriously those “French lessons” Professor Gregor Gall highlighted here in The National yesterday and come together to hold this Tory government to account once and for all.