In this week's New Statesman: The rise of the Muslim Brotherhood

Jonathan Sacks interview | Simon Heffer | A "lost" Wendy Cope poem | Hugh Grant and the paparazzi


In this week's New Statesman, ahead of the historic first round of Egypt's parliamentary elections on 28 November, LSE professor Fawaz Gerges profiles the Muslim Brotherhood -- the Islamist group feared and reviled by the west that aims to win 40 per cent of seats and reshape post-Mubarak Egypt.

Elsewhere in the magazine, Jon Bernstein speaks to Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks about anti-Zionism, the dangers of the internet and wealth inequality. In the NS Diary, Mail columnist Simon Heffer defends his use of the phrase Fourth Reich ("Thanks to Germany, we have just witnessed coups d'état in two European countries"), and following Hugh Grant's testimony to the Leveson inquiry, Helen Lewis-Hasteley wonders how much lower the paparazzi can go.

Also this week, economics editor David Blanchflower charts the growing crisis of youth joblessness, Rafael Behr argues that Osborne's excuses are wearing thin, and in the Letter from Washington, Ben Smith considers the two basic views of Mitt Romney: that he can't win and that he can't lose the GOP bid to take on Obama.

All this plus a love letter to Björk penned by Toby Litt, Stefan Collini pays tribute to the virtues of Lionel Trilling, Nina Caplan on our enduring fascination with coffee and the NS publishes for the first time a "lost" poem of Wendy Cope's from 1978.

Alice Gribbin is a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She was formerly the editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

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Emmanuel Macron can win - but so can Marine Le Pen

Macron is the frontrunner, but he remains vulnerable to an upset. 

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is campaigning in the sixth largest French city aka London today. He’s feeling buoyed by polls showing not only that he is consolidating his second place but that the voters who have put him there are increasingly comfortable in their choice

But he’ll also be getting nervous that those same polls show Marine Le Pen increasing her second round performance a little against both him and François Fillon, the troubled centre-right candidate. Her slight increase, coming off the back of riots after the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man and Macron’s critical comments about the French empire in Algeria is a reminder of two things: firstly the potential for domestic crisis or terror attack to hand Le Pen a late and decisive advantage.  Secondly that Macron has not been doing politics all that long and the chance of a late implosion on his part cannot be ruled out either.

That many of his voters are former supporters of either Fillon or the Socialist Party “on holiday” means that he is vulnerable should Fillon discover a sense of shame – highly unlikely but not impossible either – and quit in favour of a centre-right candidate not mired in scandal. And if Benoît Hamon does a deal with Jean-Luc Mélenchon – slightly more likely that Fillon developing a sense of shame but still unlikely – then he could be shut out of the second round entirely.

What does that all mean? As far as Britain is concerned, a Macron or Fillon presidency means the same thing: a French government that will not be keen on an easy exit for the UK and one that is considerably less anti-Russian than François Hollande’s. But the real disruption may be in the PR battle as far as who gets the blame if Theresa May muffs Brexit is concerned.

As I’ve written before, the PM doesn’t like to feed the beast as far as the British news cycle and the press is concerned. She hasn’t cultivated many friends in the press and much of the traditional rightwing echo chamber, from the press to big business, is hostile to her. While Labour is led from its leftmost flank, that doesn’t much matter. But if in the blame game for Brexit, May is facing against an attractive, international centrist who shares much of the prejudices of May’s British critics, the hope that the blame for a bad deal will be placed solely on the shoulders of the EU27 may turn out to be a thin hope indeed.

Implausible? Don’t forget that people already think that Germany is led by a tough operator who gets what she wants, and think less of David Cameron for being regularly outmanoeuvered by her – at least, that’s how they see it. Don’t rule out difficulties for May if she is seen to be victim to the same thing from a resurgent France.

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