Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Anders Breivik is a terrorist, so we should treat him like one (Guardian)

We comb over every word from Oslo, but disregard al-Qaida's rants. The lack of consistency speaks volumes, writes Jonathan Freedland

2. Cameron ‘secretly encouraged’ Tory backbench revolt on Lords reform (Times)

Sam Coates and Roland Watson accuse David Cameron of encouraging Conservative MPs to revolt against House of Lords reform.

3. This is politics not sport. If drivers can't see that, they are the pits (Independent)

"Supposing it was Assad shelling out £40m for a race. Would Ecclestone be happy to give him a soft sporting cover for his repression?", asks Robert Fisk.

4. Amiable apparatchik with eyes on the Elysée (Financial Times)

Hugh Carnegy writes that François Hollande’s transformation from virtual no-hoper to serious contender is partly a story of circumstance, partly a story of diligent preparation – and partly a story of the sheer unpopularity of Mr Sarkozy.

5. We should all be hacktivists now (Guardian)

Heather Brooke writes that in the state-orchestrated grab for cyber-territory we have to work together to ensure our online freedom is protected by law

6. The Tories' clustershambles is all very entertaining, but Cameron needs to get a grip (Independent)

Some leaders find immense extra physical and emotional resources in a crisis. They become more attentive to detail. But with Cameron, things seem to be going in the opposite direction, writes Chris Bryant

7. Battle is joined on bonuses – at long last (Financial Times)

John Plender writes that the amazing thing about the Barclays and Citi bonus fights is that it has taken so long for the worms of the institutional investment world to turn.

8. We can’t reform the European Court of Human Rights, so let’s end this nonsense (Daily Telegraph)

The interminable Abu Qatada affair proves Britain needs to bring home the rule of law, writes Charles Moore

9. At last Bahrain has found the friends it deserves (Guardian)

Marina Hyde writes that in John Yates and Bernie Ecclestone the charming al-Khalifas have met their match

10. Make the mayoral elections independents’ day (Independent)

As more cities opt for directly elected leaders we must make sure candidates of real character are heard above the din, writes Janice Turner

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Why is Marine Le Pen getting more popular?

The latest French polls have people panicked. Here's what's going on. 

In my morning memo today, I wrote that Emmanuel Macron, who is campaigning in London today – the French émigré population makes it an electoral prize in of itself – was in a good position, but was vulnerable, as many of his voters were “on holiday” from the centre-left Socialist Party and the centre-right Republican Party, and he is a relatively new politician, meaning that his potential for dangerous gaffes should not be ruled out.

Now two polls show him slipping. Elabe puts him third, as does Opinionway. More worryingly, Marine Le Pen, the fascist Presidential candidate, is extending her first round lead with Elabe, by two points. Elabe has Le Pen top of the heap with 28 per cent, Republican candidate François Fillon second with 21 per cent, and Macron third with 18.5 per cent. Opinionway has Le Pen down one point to 26 per cent, and Macron and Fillon tied on 21 per cent.
(Under the rules of France’s electoral system, unless one candidate reaches more than half of the vote in the first round, the top two go through to a run-off. All the polls show that Marine Le Pen will top the first round, and have since 2013, before losing heavily in the second. That’s also been the pattern, for the most part, in regional and parliamentary elections.)

What’s going on? Two forces are at play. The first is the specific slippage in Macron’s numbers. Macron ended up in a row last week after becoming the first presidential candidate to describe France’s colonisation of Algeria as a “crime against humanity”, which has hurt him, resulting in a migration of voters back to the main centre-right candidate, François Fillon, which is why he is back in third place, behind Le Pen and Fillon.

Le Pen has been boosted by a bout of rioting following the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man who was sodomised with a police baton.

As I’ve written before, Le Pen’s best hope is that she faces a second round against the scandal-ridden Fillon, who is under fire for employing his wife and children in his parliamentary office, despite the fact there is no evidence of them doing any work at all. She would likely still lose – but an eruption of disorder on the streets or a terrorist attack could help her edge it, just about. (That’s also true if she faced Macron, so far the only other candidate who has come close to making it into the second round in the polling.)

For those hoping that Macron can make it in and prevent the French presidency swinging to the right, there is some good news: tomorrow is Wednesday. Why does that matter? Because Le Canard Enchaîné, the French equivalent of Private Eye which has been leading the investigation into Fillon is out. We’ve known throughout the election that what is good for Fillon is bad for Macron, and vice versa. Macron’s Algeria gaffe has helped Fillon – now Macron must hope that Fillon’s scandal-ridden past has more gifts to give him. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.