CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. David Cameron must sweep aside the impostor who stole his act (Sunday Telegraph)

'Calamity Clegg' managed to come across as the candidate of change in Thursday's leader's debate, says Matthew d'Ancona, but we mustn't count the Tory leader out just yet.

2. The battle of the public school boys (Sunday Times)

Dominic Lawson points out that Sigmund Freud had a perfect phrase for the rivalry between David Cameron and Nick Clegg: the narcissism of minor differences. Both are public school and Oxbridge educated.

3. Cam losing it big time (Sunday Mirror)

New Statesman editor Jason Cowley asks whether Cameron will come to regret pushing so hard for Britain's first televised debates. Coupled with unrest inside his own party, things are not getting any easier for the Tory leader.

4. David, face facts - no immigrants means no NHS (Observer)

Still on the subject of Thursday's debate, Carole Cadwalladr argues that Cameron's anti-immigration rant showed that the more traditional Tory values are still alive and kicking.

5. Afghanistan must be debated (Independent on Sunday)

The war in Afghanistan has hardly featured in the election campaign so far, says the leading article. Polls show that the public is unconvinced by the arguments in favour of war. These strategic issues must be raised for the health of our democracy.

6. Does optimism have a place in British politics (Sunday Telegraph)

Janet Daley wonders why Cameron did not mention his Big Society idea in the leaders' debate, since it brings a vote-winning positive dimension to the campaign.

7. This is a radical revolt against the statist approach of Big Government (Observer)

He may not have mentioned it during the debate, but here Conservative leader David Cameron elaborates on his vision for the Big Society, in which Britons are freed from the 'stifling clutch of state control' to shape their own destiny.

8. Surrender now - the army's no place for you, single mum (Sunday Times)

It should not be the role of the armed forces to move in as childcare managers or social workers or flexitime consultants, says Minette Marrin. Tilern DeBique's tribunal victory is a cautionary tale.

9. A test of the rule of law in Pakistan (Independent on Sunday)

The leading article looks at the verdict of the UN committee on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, which criticised the deficiencies of the Pakistani state. What happens next will indicate whether the country is now any less lawless.

10. So, how do the parties match up on protecting our freedom? (Observer)

The New Labour manifesto asks you to ignore all the suspicion the government has created during its term in office, says Henry Porter, comparing the three main parties' policies on civil liberties.

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Is the French Left having its Jeremy Corbyn moment?

Benoit Hamon won the first round of the Socialist party's presidential primaries. 

Has the French Left taken a Corbynite turn? That's certainly the verdict of many after the first round of the French Socialist Party's primary.

In first place is Benoit Hamon, who quit Francois Hollande's government over its right turn in 2014, and counts the adoption of a universal basic income, the legalisation of cannabis and the right to die among his policy proposals, with 36 per cent of the vote.

In second place and facing an uphill battle to secure the nomination is Manuel Valls, the minister who more than any other symbolized the rightward lurch of Hollande's presidency, with 31 per cent. That of the five eliminated candidates - under the French system, if no candidate secures more than half of the vote, the top two go through to a run-off round - only one could even arguably be said to be closer to Valls than Hamon shows the struggle he will have to close the gap next weekend. And for a variety of reasons, even supporters of his close ally Sylvia Pinel may struggle to put a tick in his box. 

Still, Valls clearly believes that electability is his best card, and he's compared Hamon to Corbyn, who "chose to remain in opposition". Also making the Hamon-Corbyn comparison is most of the British press and several high-profile activists in the French Republican Party.

Is it merited? The differences are probably more important than the similarities: not least that Hamon served as a minister until 2014, and came up through the backrooms. In terms of the centre of gravity and the traditions of his party, he is much closer in analogue to Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham than he is to Jeremy Corbyn, though Corbynistas and Hamonites bear a closer resemblance to one another than their leaders to.

What will give heart to the leader's office is that Hamon surged in the polls after each debate, when his ideas were given a bigger platform. But what will alarm everyone in Labour is the French Socialists' poll ratings - they are expected to get just 6 per cent in the elections. (And before you scoff at the polls, it's worth noting that they have, so far, performed admirably in the French electoral cycle, picking up on the lightning rise of both Hamon and Francois Fillon.)

That attests to something it's easy to forget in Westminster, where we tend to obsess over the United States and ignore politics on the Continent, despite the greater commonalities: throughout Europe, social democratic parties are in a fight for their lives, no matter if they turn to the left or the right.

The Democrats, in contrast, won the presidential election by close to three million votes and lost due to the electoral college. They have good prospects in the midterm elections and their greatest threat is gerrymandering and electoral malfeasance. But absent foul play, you'd have to be very, very brave to bet on them going extinct.

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