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CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Nick Clegg was the winner in this historic leaders' debate (Guardian)

Martin Kettle discusses last night's leaders' debate, concluding that Cameron disappointed, Brown held the line, and Clegg came out on top. If nothing else, the debate brought the election alive by confirming that our political parties also have something serious to argue about.

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2. Election 2010: Clegg uses first TV debate to best effect (Daily Telegraph)

The Telegraph View agrees that, while the debate didn't live up to its hype, it gave a much-needed lift to a lacklustre campaign. Brown waffled, and although Cameron came across as articulate and energetic, it was made apparent that Clegg could be a barrier to his premiership.

3. We saw the new masters in action... (Times)

...and they turned out to be us, says David Aaronovitch, who argues that the real significance of the debate was that it showed how the power is shifting from rulers to the ruled.

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4. A little desperation? Bring it on (Independent)

Andrew Marr claims that philosophically, the three main parties are breaking apart, ideologically, from the middle ground. The divides are real, and how we vote this time matters hugely.

5. Call it loyalty. Call it tribalism. At the ballot box a magnetic force kicks in (Guardian)

In the end, the policies count for little, argues Julian Glover. Voting for a party is a matter of the heart, much like support for a football team -- loyalty is the underappreciated force shaping this election.

6. The shameful, bloody silence at the heart of the election (Independent)

Johann Hari asks why the Afghanistan war has been left out of the election debate. Hamid Karzai is threatening to defect to the Taliban and still we won't discuss it.

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7. Justice mocked (Times)

The leading article says that the UN tribunal should curb the delaying tactics of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader. He has a right to be defended, but his actions are a bleak and unconscionable farce.

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8. Pope Benedict has turned his back on a church in crisis (Financial Times)

Philip Stephens examines the pope's response to the crisis in the Catholic church. The pontiff is a globaliser -- the pews may gather dust in Europe and the US, but in societies more respectful of authority, business is booming.

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9. Libel laws: a lethal muzzle of medicine (Guardian)

The chiropractors' absurd pursuit of Simon Singh is over, says Ben Goldacre, but libel laws are still a real health hazard. In the medical world, reasonable criticism should never be stifled, because of the enormous potential to do harm regardless of good intentions.

10. Ridicule is a weapon against terrorism (Financial Times)

Jamie Bartlett and Richard Reeves make the case for allowing radical messages to circulate freely. Terrorism has become "cool" and rebellious among young Muslims. We must "toxify" the al-Qaeda brand; not by making it seem dangerous, but by exposing it as dumb.

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