Gilbert Collard is undoubtedly Eric Zemmour’s biggest political war prize, or the best known, after almost fifty years of surveying TV sets. The former lawyer, who will be 73 in a few days, has certainly had his hour of glory: a civil party in the Ranucci case in 1976, he refrains from demanding the death penalty and is “admirable generosity and talent”writes Gilles Perrault in the Red sweater (Ramsey, 1978). And the young lawyer from Marseille, who made his phone calls in a bar, for lack of a firm, soon became in great demand.
He is soon overwhelmed with files that he has neither the time nor the desire to work on, and served by an undeniable oratorical talent, prefers to give peremptory opinions on TV rather than peeling the penal code. He was Pierrette Le Pen’s lawyer against Jean-Marie, Charles Pasqua, Richard Virenque, General Aussaresses, Brigitte Bardot… and claimed to earn nearly 33,000 euros per month in 2012.
Collard slips steadily to the right
His glory was somewhat reversed during the desecration of the Jewish cemetery in Carpentras (Vaucluse) in 1990, when he brandished an envelope (empty) supposed to contain the names of the culprits, the sons of local notables. He already saw himself “Little Zola of Carpentras” : it emerged six years later that those responsible were young neo-Nazis.
A young left-wing lawyer, he has, with age, slid steadily to the right: vaguely Trotskyist, then Rocardian, he left the Socialist Party in 1992, supported a candidate from the Rally for the Republic (RPR) in the Bouches-du- Rhone. A centrist and unfortunate candidate for mayor of Vichy (Allier) in 2001 and 2008, he slowly approached the National Front through Louis Aliot, now National Rally (RN) mayor of Perpignan.
In 2011, the lawyer took the plunge, chaired Marine Le Pen’s support committee and proclaimed himself a “marinist” – without ever joining the party. Member of Parliament for Gard in 2012, then in the European Parliament where he rarely sets foot, he was annoyed at not having an invitation for his daughters to the Perpignan congress in July 2020, and had therefore shunned him. Gilbert Collard no longer did much at the RN, where we followed his whimsical declarations and his friendship with Marion Maréchal with a little concern – and without being really surprised by his slippage to this other polemicist who is Eric Zemmour.