Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, on gay rights, older voters and Osborne's tax dodge.

1. Cameron fails to say he's for "gay or straight"

Over at Left Foot Forward, Shamik Das notes that despite the Tories briefing that David Cameron would declare that he was for "gay or straight" in his speech today, the line didn't make it in.

2. Will it be older voters that finally do for Mr Brown?

PoliticalBetting's Mike Smithson reports on a new poll that gives the Tories a 22 per cent lead among the over-55s.

3. Has Osborne kept open the "Geoffrey Howe dodge" on VAT?

The Tory shadow chancellor may have said that he has "no plans" to raise VAT but, says Sunder Katwala, history teaches us to be wary of Tory tax pledges.

4. What happens in wash-up -- and what will happen to the Digital Economy Bill?

Liberal Democrat Voice's Mark Pack looks at the bills that are likely to emerge intact from the "wash-up" period.

5. "The worst government in history"

The Public and Commercial Services union leader Mark Serwotka's description of the Labour government as "the worst in history" deserves a prize for "bone-headed madness", writes John Rentoul.

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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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