Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Barack Obama and David Cameron are now both on the back foot (Guardian)

After Ed Miliband and Mitt Romney's surprise performances, the incumbents are under intense pressure to hit back soon, writes Jonathan Freedland.

2. David Cameron may not like it, but he’s been hit by a hurricane (Daily Telegraph)

The Prime Minister must convince Tories, as Mrs Thatcher did, that the recovery is his personal mission, says Charles Moore.

3. To know the beast you must face it in its lair (Times) (£)

They say party conferences are irrelevant, writes Matthew Parris. But this is where future leaders are forged and reveal their true nature

4. Osborne endures in hope of vindication (Financial Times)

The chancellor is biding his time as an election approaches, writes Janan Ganesh.

5. The Conservatives can be the new workers' party (Guardian)

For the Tories to gain a majority, David Cameron must push for blue-collar modernisation and a war on joblessness, says Neil O'Brien.

6. How Mr Cameron could win the next election (Daily Mail)

An unequivocal pledge to hold an in-out EU referendum would give the Tories a chance of winning a majority, says Simon Heffer.

7. Ed Miliband's One Nation conference speech was political transvestism at its most stylish (Independent)

Anyone half-worth electing has stolen their opponents' clothes, but for transvestism not to collapse into drag, it must be sustained and convincing, says Chris Bryant.

8. Maria Miller, a very modern feminist? Don't make me laugh (Guardian)

The minister for women lacks the courage to be pro-life, but can't understand why less privileged women choose abortion, writes Tanya Gold.

9. The Tories must prove they are willing to fight (Daily Telegraph)

As they gather in Birmingham for this year’s conference, the Tories need to recapture the spirit of 2007, says a Telegraph leader.

10. Impenitent Marxist and free thinker (Financial Times)

Hobsbawm was beloved even of those who do not share his politics, says Christopher Caldwell.

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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