Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from today, on tactical voting, homophobia and the Murdoch web charge.

1. How could you vote for a hung parliament?

Last week's New Statesman essay by Anthony Barnett appeared to offer advice to voters who want a hung parliament. But he was wrong, says Next Left's Sunder Katwala, who gives detailed instructions on tactical voting.

2. Is Brown running scared of a Paxo stuffing?

Paul Waugh reveals that No 10 has not yet given the green light for the hour-long grilling on Newsnight that John Major and Tony Blair both faced.

3. Cameron's gay rights gaffe

At Liberal Conspiracy, Paul Sagar blogs on the mainstream media's response to David Cameron's disastrous interview with the Gay Times, and what this tells us about homophobia in our society.

4. BBC capitulation paves way for Murdoch web charge

Trying to get people to pay for access to information on the internet is not the model we should be following, Joy Johnson writes at Left Foot Forward.

5. That "eye-opening" Geoff Hoon claim in Andrew Rawnsley's book

It's been quite a week for Hoon, says Simon Jeffery, and that has drawn attention to a passage in Rawnsley's book The End of the Party claiming that Hoon has kept explosive details about Dr David Kelly under wraps.

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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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