Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. Gordon Brown has voters in a trance . . . (Daily Telegraph)

The Tories must show the kind of ruthless killer instinct that comes naturally to Labour, says Benedict Brogan. For now, Brown's act of hypnosis appears to be working.

2. Prepare for the fourth transport revolution (Times)

The Transport Secretary, Andrew Adonis, argues that now is the right time to push ahead with his high-speed rail plan. British exceptionalism must be put to bed.

3. Step forward, the minister with a scheme to make a difference (Independent)

Elsewhere, in the Independent, Steve Richards praises Adonis's creativity and ambition and says he is a role model for future cabinet ministers.

4. The City is not in love with Osborne (City AM)

A poll of London's finance and business professionals shows that they would prefer Kenneth Clarke, not George Osborne, to become chancellor, reports Allister Heath.

5. Voters are far ahead of the elite -- so they'll get no say (Guardian)

The increasingly unpopular war in Afghanistan should be at the heart of the election campaign, writes Seumas Milne. But the decision of all three main parties to support the surge means public opinion has been ignored.

6. If interest rates rise, our prospects plummet (Times)

We must reject the dogmatic belief that low inflation takes priority over everything else, says Anatole Kaletsky.

7. Mismanaging China's rural exodus (Financial Times)

Chinese urbanisation could be the biggest business opportunity of the coming decades, writes David Pilling. But most of the 200 million migrants who have left the land have no right of permanent residence in the cities.

8. The Janus face of recession politics (Independent)

Almost all the measures designed to combat recession actually serve to prolong the very seductions of easy credit, argues Adrian Hamilton.

9. Remember the Crimea. Look after the army (Times)

The disastrous underequipping of soldiers in Afghanistan has uncomfortable echoes of the Crimean war, says Ben Macintyre.

10. Beyond the voodoo void of finance

The moral gulf between citizens and banks can be overcome with an ethic of responsibility, argues William Brittain-Catlin.

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The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

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