When Jean-Marie Le Pen confirmed this morning that he was withdrawing his candidacy for December's regional elections, he gave the most concrete sign yet of his waning influence in the party he founded. Since she took over four years ago, his daughter Marine Le Pen has tried to move the National Front party away from the image it had under its founder - shedding its racist undertones and broadening its appeal. There are many who say these new political garments are skin-deep, but nevertheless Marine has managed to win control of a dozen towns and put two MPs in parliament. Her calculation last week in blocking her father's candidacy was clear - accusations of anti-Semitism are not good for the party's prospects at the regional elections in December nor the presidential race in two-and-a-half years' time. Mr Le Pen's comments about the Holocaust, his daughter said, were "political suicide".