Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from this weekend, on the polls, Peter Watt and Stormont politics

1. Latest ICM poll shows little impact from Hoon-Hewitt

At UK Polling Report, Anthony Wells analyses the latest ICM/Sunday Telegraph poll results, which he says may have come too soon to give an accurate measure of fallout from the Hoon/Hewitt plot.

2. Ulster puritanism caught with its pants down

The recent difficulties faced by Iris Robinson and Gerry Adams have provided a puritanical scandal, says Michael White, blogging at the Guardian.

3. Tennant: I want the cleverest person in the room as PM, not someone who looks good in a suit

The Timelord is not your usual political commentator. Nonetheless, Alex Smith at Labour List tells us, the ex-Doctor Who star David Tennant has expressed his support for Gordon Brown. Will others from the arts follow suit?

4. How will the Tories use the Watt claims?

Mike Smithson at Political Betting speculates on how the media will respond to Peter Watt's revelations -- which diverted attention from fresh criticism of Brown by Geoff Hoon.

5. Revealed: the Lib-Con pact election poster

Stephen Tall posts an election poster from more than 50 years ago on Liberal Democrat Voice.

 

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Paul Nuttall is like his party: sad, desperate and finished

The party hope if they can survive until March 2019, they will grow strong off disillusionment with Brexit. They may not make it until then. 

It’s a measure of how far Ukip have fallen that while Theresa May faced a grilling over her social care U-Turn and Jeremy Corbyn was called to account over his past, the opening sections of Andrew Neill’s interview with Paul Nuttall was about the question of whether or not his party has a future.

The blunt truth is that Ukip faces a battering in this election. They will be blown away in the seats they have put up a candidate in and have pre-emptively retreated from numerous contests across the country.

A party whose leader in Wales once said that climate change was “ridiculous” is now the victim of climate change itself. With Britain heading out of the European Union and Theresa May in Downing Street, it’s difficult to work out what the pressing question in public life to which Ukip is the answer.

Their quest for relevance isn’t helped by Paul Nuttall, who at times tonight cast an unwittingly comic figure. Pressing his case for Ukip’s burka ban, he said earnestly: “For [CCTV] to work, you have to see people’s faces.” It was if he had intended to pick up Nigel Farage’s old dogwhistle and instead put a kazoo to his lips.

Remarks that are, written down, offensive, just carried a stench of desperation. Nuttall’s policy prescriptions – a noun, a verb, and the most rancid comment underneath a Mail article – came across as a cry for attention. Small wonder that senior figures in Ukip expect Nuttall to face a move on his position, though they also expect that he will see off any attempt to remove him from his crown.

But despite his poor performance, Ukip might not be dead yet. There was a gleam of strategy amid the froth from Nuttall in the party’s pledge to oppose any continuing payment to Brussels as part of the Brexit deal, something that May and Corbyn have yet to rule out.

If May does manage to make it back to Downing Street on 8 June, the gap between campaign rhetoric – we’ll have the best Brexit, France will pay for it – and government policy – we’ll pay a one-off bill and continuing contributions if need be – will be fertile territory for Ukip, if they can survive as a going concern politically and financially, until March 2019.

On tonight’s performance, they’ll need a better centre-forward than Paul Nuttall if they are to make it that far. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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