The Henley streaker: a very British way to welcome the Olympic torch

The torch's relay around Britain has been marked by indifference and disruption, as well as cheering crowds.

Yet another gatecrasher has managed to inject an element of ridicule into the progress of the Olympic torch around the country.

A naked man ran down the street as the procession reached Henley-on-Thames, holding his very own torch aloft as he ran:

He's not the first to distrupt the torch's progress around the UK by any means. In fact, it would seem that Britain has welcomed the symbol of the Olympic spirit with our traditional blend of indifference, mischief and civil disobedience.

There was the incident in Coventry, where two children tried (and almost succeeded) in simply taking the torch out of the hand of its bearer:

As my colleague Alex Hern reported over the weekend, there was also a highly questionable incident when police pushed a boy off his bike as he cycled alongside the torch party:

Another man tried to get near it as it came through Cleethorpes.

In Ezdell, a man was astonished to receive a visit from two plain clothes policemen after he handed out leaflets publicising the torch relay's connections with Nazi-era Germany.

The flame went out here, and had to be rapidly relighted:

Well done, Britain. An excellent reception for a very silly tradition. Although, the whole Torch thing was arguably doomed from the start - it did go out during the lighting ceremony in Greece...

An Olympic Torch bearer holds it aloft at the Giants Causeway. Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

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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