I'm a quitter not a fighter

Carol Thatcher, Mormons and other stories...

Week in, week out since we relaunched newstatesman.com a couple of guys from the brilliant journalism school at Cardiff (where I went) have been doing a round-up of political blogs and it’s more than time I mentioned them in despatches. Owen Walker and Adam Haigh write on alternate weeks and are doing a first class job.

Anyway have a read of their entertaining, pithy summaries. If nothing else it’ll save you having to browse some of the more irritating offers out there in the blogosphere.

I know I keep banging on about our Faith Column but it really is a great feature of the website. This past week the fascinating insights of druid Damh. Next week Kathy Van Buskirk, from the Cherokee Nation talks about her religion. Coming up we’ve got another atheist, a Catholic and a Navajo.

Interestingly we’ve tried quite hard to get Mormons to blog but they don’t do it. A spokeswoman from the Mormon Church said all the information you could possibly want is on the Latter Day Saints (LDS) official website (notice I didn’t link). They don’t like people commenting, which is why they don’t like blogging…

Inspite of that we did find a young American woman to write about her conversion to the LDS from being a Southern Baptist but she mentioned it to her Mormon flatmates, they told her church and she got instructed not to proceed! Scary stuff. Almost Mandelsonian in its creepiness! Personally I couldn’t belong to an organisation that controlling. I’m a quitter not a fighter.

I was watching some TV the other night and had the appalling misfortune to come across Carol Thatcher. Now there’s no secret that nepotism is alive and well in world of the media – but ‘Mummy’s War’? Notice the date stamp on this blog entry in case you think I’m making it up! Yes that’s the daughter of Margaret ‘two million unemployed’s a nice number’ Thatcher if there was any question in your mind…

Now I’ve no idea what you think about the sinking of the General Belgrano, but seeing Miss Thatcher in a room with some of the mothers of the men that died on that ship was not a TV highpoint. “It was a war, we shot at you, you shot at us,” she said with the tone of someone who can’t understand the dreadful fuss.

The mothers had apparently misinterpreted the point of the meeting, erroneously thinking they might get some message from Mrs Thatcher – whom they claimed was a war criminal. Why set up a conversation like that? Well I suppose it gives the former prime minister’s daughter something to do. I wonder what Channel 4 will follow it up with - Mark Thatcher goes on safari in Africa?

If you go to Argentina and you’re British, the Falklands War does come up from time to time in conversation. But people weren’t hostile, in my experience, they were just curious to find out your point of view. In fact quite a few people I met believed passionately in Argentina’s sovereignty over the islands but also conceded the point that if they hadn’t lost the war their rotten, murderous dictatorship might not have crumbled quite as fast.

Whatever you think about the war, commissioning Carol Thatcher to front that programme was in excreable taste.

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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