Adam Smith, Frederic Michel at Leveson: 5 things we learned

Including 1000 texts between DCMS and News Corp.

  1. David Cameron knew Jeremy Hunt was pro-BSkyB before he gave the Department of Culture, Media and Sport control of the bid, after taking it off Vince Cable because he was too biased.
  2. Jeremy Hunt isn't a fan of the Guardian – he said in a memo to the Prime Minister that it would be "totally wrong to cave into the [BBC], Channel 4, Guardian line", who were opposing the BSkyB bid because it would create an enormous media conglomerate with huge amounts of power.
  3. James Murdoch wanted to “repeat what his father did at Wapping”, over the BSkyB bid. In the 1980s, Rupert Murdoch was allowed to buy the Times and the Sunday Times after a secret meeting at Chequers with Margaret Thatcher. He then broke the print unions by moving his newspaper offices to Wapping, where staff crossed picket lines with the help of police.
  4. Frédéric Michel makes very silly jokes in his texts. He apologised for his quip that receiving information from Jeremy Hunt's office was “absolutely illegal >!” saying “I apologise if my texts are too jokey sometimes”
  5. Adam Smith is a keen texter - but only to some people. He sent 257 texts to Frederic Michel - of 1000 texts exchanged between the department of culture, media and sport and News Corporation - and none to competitors.
Adam Smith. Photograph: Getty Images
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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