Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. It may seem painless, but drone war in Afghanistan is destroying the west's reputation (Daily Telegraph)

A new phase of secret, unaccountable and illegal warfare is being deployed by the west, finds Peter Oborne.

2. A diabolical mix of US wages and European austerity (Financial Times)

Pursuing converging economic policies would have dire consequences, writes Robert Reich.

3. Is Mitt Romney's Mormonism a key issue? You bet it is (Guardian)

If, as Mormons believe, the US has divine sanction, then so must its foreign policy, writes Martin Kettle. This could have huge global implications.

4. Remember Bosnia, seedbed of radical Islam (Times) (£)

The people of Syria wonder why the west will not help, says David Aaronovitch. Twenty years ago, jihadis stepped into a similar breach.

5. Prepare for Osborne’s greatest gamble (Financial Times)

An EU renegotiation referendum would help the chancellor defeat his rivals, says Paul Goodman.

6. Charles Taylor now, Bashar al-Assad next (Guardian)

Justice has a momentum, and as Liberia's ex-leader is jailed, he's certain to be followed by other despots, says Geoffrey Robertson.

7. We have a duty to scrutinise the monarchy, not the tittle-tattle (Independent)

I decided that the Independent would not cover the royals unless the story had solid news value, writes Andreas Whittam Smith.

8. Shabby, disreputable and just plain wrong (Daily Mail)

Decent doctors should have nothing to do with the strike, argues a Daily Mail leader.

9. England is a green and pleasant man-made land (Daily Telegraph)

The tension between developers of wind farms and new housing and Nimbys is sure to grow – but something has to give, writes Bruce Anderson.

10. Lagarde isn't a tax dodger or a hypocrite (Independent)

She has dodged nothing, but the Greek economy has long suffered tax evasion, says Nikhil Kumar.

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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