Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, on cuts, the English Defence League and Turkey.

1. Britain second only to Ireland in size of cuts required

The FT's Alex Barker publishes data from Fitch showing that only Ireland needs to make larger spending cuts than Britain.

2. Johnny Adair to help Paul Ray and Nick Greger take over English Defence League?

Richard Bartholomew blogs on rumours that the EDL could be seeking ties with Northern Irish loyalists.

3. Turkey's Gaza strategy is designed to boost its influence

Channel 4's Lindsey Hilsum says that the Turkish PM's outrage over Gaza isn't an uncontrolled outburst of emotion, but part of a strategy to reposition Turkey as an important power in the Middle East.

4. Balls's EU immigration claims don't stand up

At Left Foot Forward, Sarah Mulley challenges Ed Balls's claim that immigration has depressed domestic wages.

5. The undecided

Labour Uncut provides a helpful list of the 42 MPs yet to declare for or nominate a leadership candidate.

Special subscription offer: Get 12 issues for £12 plus a free copy of Andy Beckett's "When the Lights Went Out".

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

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.

0800 7318496