While the Irish threat recedes, the war rages on against Al Qaida, justifying arms production and the modern military state. However, despite this cynicism, and the fear-mongering and exaggeration, there is a palpable risk: without a defence policy, we would be open to attack.

Is it possible to dialogue with the [political representatives of] terrorists, breaking with Thatcher and Blair's legacy of not even talking? Do we know what they want? Is it the destruction of the American empire? And in any case, is it reasonable to talk to people unless they have reasonable claims?

Marine Le Pen will home in on this fear and make huge political capital out of it. Except unlike her father's generation, she will be subtler, adding economics, social hardship and unemployment to the anti-immigration and anti-everyone-else debate that is no longer openly called xenophobia or racism.

Are the personalities of the French left sufficiently charismatic to win over the Sarkosists and right-wing populist arguments that will carry weight in these times of bankers bonuses?

Despite soi-disant openness and balanced opinion, coverage remains relatively middle class. Even if only a minority would be openly racist, many will look up to the defender of the nationalist faith, although she is a woman. That might help them say how mainstream they are.

For those of us observing this election from behind our administrative you-cant-vote-unless-you've-got-nationality barriers despite more than a decade’s residency, we hope that the sensible French might remember a world before competition, cuts and home-spun macro-economic propaganda.

A world of work and community and proud exchange of quality services for a respectable sum rather than marketing and hype. Vote Hollande if you can or suffer five more years of the Nain and the sad advance of the far right's new wicked witch.