Cameron will have more to worry about than just his tan lines

A round-up of the week shows Brown gaining an edge over Cameron

As MPs parted discussing plans for summer freebies and parliament broke up for the summer recess, the Tories were still suffering the Brown bounce.

A beleaguered David Cameron, freshly-returned from Rwanada, took a beating from Gordon Brown in the last PMQs and the Tories were further behind Labour in the opinion polls. Iain Dale, who had accompanied Cameron on his African adventure, felt compelled to speak up for his travel buddy. The root of recent Conservative poor performance was not Cameron but his Shadow Cabinet.

He said: “Andy Coulson’s challenge is to educate Shadow Ministers and CCHQ on ways to get press coverage over and above the normal press release. Some Shadow Ministers will find this an easier process than others to adapt to. If you’ve been doing it in the same way for ten years change is not an easy process.”

It was part of a wave of comment to the effect that the Conservative frontbenchers are lazy and unenlightening, from The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh to Matthew
d’Ancona
. Benedict Brogan lists the Shadow Cabinet’s outside interests and concludes 13 out of 29 are part-timers.

However, An Englishman’s Castle believes it is not the fact the shadow ministers spend too much time outside parliament, it’s that they spend too much time in: “The curse of modern politics are professional politicians who know nothing outside the Westminster bubble. We were far better governed when it was done by amateurs.”

One of the most salient points in Obsolete’s lengthy and interesting dissection of the proposed increased terrorism legislation is as follows: “Huge amount of data to shift through, links across the globe, 200 mobile phones, 400 computers, blah blah etc. As before, this isn’t in any way a good enough excuse or justification for those being held to be held longer, it's an argument for the police to be given more resources, or to actually use those they already have, such as to demand encryption keys.”

While, Tim Worstall points out: “Given that as yet no such suspect has had to be released after 28 days of questioning, it’s a little hard for them to come up with a justification.”

As a Liberal Democrat, the Norfolk Blogger, aka Nich Starling, fully expects to be criticised for his support of the case 56 day imprisonment: “Across Europe, in societies that we are supposed to marvel at for their liberal sensitivities, the police have powers that far outstrip our own police when it comes to questions suspects in terrorism cases. If these societies can be liberal and have such policies, why can't we?”

Owen Walker is a journalist for a number of titles within Financial Times Business, primarily focussing on pensions. He recently graduated from Cardiff University’s newspaper journalism post-graduate course and is cursed by a passion for Crystal Palace FC.
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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