HARRY Potter is a left-winger and the seven books by JK Rowling are a diatribe against Thatcherite Britain, a French philosopher said on the day of the last novel's publication in French.

"It must be said from the start that Harry Potter is deeply political and that the books speak of today's England," Jean-Claude Milner told the left-wing newspaper Liberation today.

"Reading it, one can see that JK Rowling - like many cultured English people - believes there was a real Thatcherite revolution, that it was a disaster, and that culture's only chance is to survive as an occult science."

According to Milner, Harry's world of magic - and especially the elite public school setting of the Hogwarts school of wizardry - offer a means of resistance against a triumphant middle-class represented by the non-magic Muggles.

"Harry's uncle and aunt - Muggles par excellence - live like heroes of Margaret Thatcher's world, in a neat little estate where all the houses are identical," he said.

"One can equally say that modern England is a world where the Muggles have indeed taken power, first with Margaret Thatcher and then with Tony Blair - a world where the omnipotence of the middle class is given free rein," he said.

According to Milner - a professor of linguistics at Paris university - the scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in which Harry's aunt is blown up like a balloon is a satire on Thatcher.

"Here we can see a reference to (the film) The Great Dictator by Chaplin, featuring an all-powerful middle class figure gone mad.

"And one cannot help but note that the aunt is called Marge - a clear allusion to Thatcher."

For Milner, Hogwarts provides a refuge for the minority who wish to preserve civilisation from the dangers of globalisation.

And he says Rowling's use of Latin and Greek words in her magic vocabulary is a kind of antidote against the value-for-money society of modern Britain.

"In the world of Hogwarts there are certainly inequalities. But at the same time, since culture is open to all, Hermione - the child of Muggles - can outperform Malfoy, the child of wizards," he said.

"So what appears as elitist is in fact real equality, as opposed to the false equality of the Muggles.

"In this, Harry Potter is a war-machine against Thatchero-Blairism and the 'American way of life'.

"JK Rowling is a real libertarian motivated by a desire to conserve.

"It is as if she is saying ... the real magicians are not Tony Blair's spin-doctors but people who know Latin and Greek."

As for the evil Voldemort, he is the "super-spin doctor".

A wizard himself, he is proof that culture alone is not enough to save the world, Milner says.

Power-mad, he differs from good wizards because he lacks "nobility of soul".

"So we have on one side the Muggles, where oppression means power over things; and on the other hand Hogwarts, where knowledge enables one to resist the materialism of the Muggles - but also opens the way to power over people.

"This terrible power, which Voldemort seeks and which we call tyranny, is one of the themes of Harry Potter - and indeed one of the themes of English literature since Dickens and Orwell," he said.

Some British critics have in the past accused JK Rowling of conservatism for setting her books in a nostalgic era of boarding-schools and steam trains.

The finale of the series - Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - went on sale in France and Germany today, three months after it came out in the English-speaking world.