Cable and Balls get cosy

Both appear on Andrew Marr show this morning

As journalist Paul Waugh tweeted shortly after the event: "Sight of Cable and Balls getting cosy on Marr sofa will infuriate several Tory MPs". The meeting of the two politicians was timely after the Shadow Chancellor's overtures to the Lib Dems, and Vince Cable in particular. In a column in the Sunday Mirror today, Ed Balls has written:

The country cannot afford to wait until the next election before we get a change of course. Because the longer ministers refuse to act, the more long-term damage will be done to our economy. That's why I want to work with other parties - including sensible people in the Government - on a new economic plan.

In his heart of hearts, Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable must know that Plan A is not working. After all, before the last election, he warned - with Labour - that David Cameron and George Osborne's policies would backfire. And sadly our warnings came true.

As well as confirming that a third runway with Heathrow "isn't going to happen", Cable, in his interview with Marr, chimed with Balls's rhetoric, saying that he was a man of "the centre left" who believes in "fairness and redistribution". Balls's response? "Sounds good to me".  

Business secretary Vince Cable. Photograph: Getty Images
Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

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. 

0800 7318496