Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. How Ed Miliband can harness the right's tactics to bring in a wave of left-wing populism in 2014 (Independent)

Simple messages must be repeated ad infinitum, hammered into the electorate’s skulls, says Owen Jones. 

2. What viral content does to news (Financial Times)

The fastest-growing forms of online ‘content’ are click-bait headlines and videos, writes John Gapper.

3. The prospect of the 2015 general election will reveal our parties' true colours (Guardian)

Labour's challenge is to build a spirit of optimism, while the Lib Dems will need to recast their collusion as restraint, says Zoe Williams. 

4. Miliband is a far worse leader than Kinnock (Times)

In 1992 Labour failed the voters’ trust test, writes Tim Montgomerie. Now it refuses to face the truth about its economic errors.

5. Scapegoating migrants for Britain's crisis will damage us all (Guardian)

The Tories and Ukip are vying to terrify the public about Romanians and Bulgarians, writes Seumas Milne. What's needed is protection at work and a crash housing programme.

6. Europe is slowly strangling the life out of national democracy (Daily Telegraph)

Decisions affecting the lives of voters are being taken by bureaucrats and unelected 'experts', says Peter Oborne. 

7. You’re wrong. But do you want to be told? (Times)

The wide gap between perception and reality is a challenge for those unwilling to pander to populism, says David Aaronovitch.  

8. It is Unionist cowardice that is largely to blame for the failure to reach an agreement in Northern Ireland (Independent)

If Unionists imagine that a show of obstinacy now will gain them a better deal on flags and parades in the long run, they are mistaken, says an Independent editorial. 

9. FTSE 100 at 30: A big hand for the Footsie (Daily Telegraph)

The launch of the FTSE 100 index 30 years ago signalled a new era for investors – creating great wealth as well as causing mayhem, writes Martin Vander Weyer. 

10. Abe could say sorry by shunning Yasukuni (Financial Times)

The sincerity of several leaders’ remorse for Japan’s past aggression is questioned, writes David Pilling. 

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Northern Ireland's political crisis ups the stakes for Theresa May

Unionism may be in greater immediate danger in Belfast than Edinburgh.

 Sinn Féin have announced that they will not put forward a candidate for deputy first minister, and barring a miracle, that means today's 4pm deadline for a new power-sharing executive will come and go. What next for Northern Ireland?

While another election is possible, it's not particularly likely. Although another contest might change the political composition at Stormont a little, when the dust settles, once again, the problem will be that the DUP and Sinn Féin are unable to agree terms to resume power-sharing.

That means a decade of devolved rule is ending and direct rule from Westminster is once again upon us. Who benefits? As Patrick explains in greater detail, a period of direct rule might be good news for Sinn Féin, who can go into the next set of elections in  the Republic of Ireland on an anti-austerity platform without the distracting matter of the austerity they are signing off in the North. The change at the top also allows that party to accelerate its move away from the hard men of the north and towards a leadership that is more palatable in the south..

Despite that, the DUP aren't as worried as you might expect. For one thing, a period of devolved rule, when the government at Westminster has a small majority isn't without upside for the DUP, who will continue to exert considerable leverage over May.

But the second factor is a belief that in the last election, Arlene Foster, their leader, flopped on the campaign trail with what was widely derided as a "fear" message about the consequences of the snap election instead of taking responsibility for involvement in the "cash for ash" scandal. That when the votes were cast, the Unionist majority at Stormont was wiped out means that message will have greater resonance next time than it did last time, or at least, that's how the theory runs.

Who's right? Who knows. But for Theresa May, it further ups the stakes for a good Brexit deal, particularly as far as the Irish border is concerned. A lot of the focus - including the PM's - is on her trip to Scotland and the stresses on that part of the Union. It may be that Unionism is in greater immediate danger in Belfast than Edinburgh.

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