Morning call: pick of the comment

The ten must-read pieces from the Sunday papers.

1. The Tories have the answers, but not the strength to deliver (Observer)

David Cameron and George Osborne are creating a new Tory philosophy, says Will Hutton, without drawing on any great thinker. They are doing some things right, but are ultimately unconvincing.

2. A jittery January -- but the Tories need some perspective (Sunday Telegraph)

Meanwhile, Matthew d'Ancona looks at the problems in the Conservative camp from the right, arguing that although the Cameron team's nerves are easy to explain, they need to take a reality check.

3. U-turn if you want to -- they certainly do (Sunday Times)

Martin Ivens says that both Labour and the Tories are engaging in frequent U-turns. Cameron must show a firm political purpose that can withstand events.

4. Cameron, the Houdini of Westminster (Independent on Sunday)

John Rentoul weighs into the debate, too, saying that it looks like Cameron is shackled by a falling poll lead, policy muddles and photoshopped posters, but in reality he is still poised to glide into power.

5. Parliament is finally cleaning up its act? Don't count on it (Observer)

Optimists in politics hope that public trust can be regained, says Andrew Rawnsley. But it'll take more than a few MPs in the dock and an election.

6. MPs' expenses: Our MPs still aren't getting the message (Sunday Telegraph)

The editorial argues that the Rotten Parliament, as future historians may know it, must be replaced by one whose ethos is different from those of its predecessors.

7. The sisterhood is costing us our jobs (Sunday Times)

Eleanor Mills argues that working mothers want very different things, and it is women who suffer from a law that forbids employers to ask them about their intentions.

8. Sceptics have their uses (Independent on Sunday)

Taking an unexpected stance, the leading article says that climate-change sceptics have done us all a favour -- their challenges have tested the flabbier assumptions of that consensus and forced proponents of the majority view to sharpen their arguments.

9. Libel tourists will love the tales of Lord Hoffmann (Observer)

Nick Cohen bemoans the hypocrisy of England's libel courts, saying that judges are now using slogans coined by the left.

10. Anti-Semitism is at the limits of irony (Independent on Sunday)

Racism against Jews is on the rise, writes Anne Karpf, but some of it masquerades as comedy, and that makes it complex and difficult to address.


Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter.

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