CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. The coalition's splits are all Tory versus Tory (Times) (£)

The Liam Fox letter reveals just one of the fights between men in blue rosettes, says Fraser Nelson -- and nobody is acting as referee.

2. A tug of war that heralds Britain's farewell to arms (Financial Times)

Philip Stephens suggests that the UK could be looking to abandon world player aspirations -- using the strategic review of defence spending as an excuse.

3. Defence cuts: Foxtrot (Guardian)

£4bn over four years is not an impossible target, says this leading article, but can only be delivered "ruthlessly and without sentiment".

4. David Miliband's defeat isn't tragic (Daily Telegraph)

Peter Oborne argues that calling David Miliband's defeat a tragedy shows how shallow public life has become.

5. Ed, prepare for the fight of your life (Independent)

Ed Miliband is going to face an extremely difficult fight against the vested interests of the super-rich, says Johann Hari.

6. Ed has a theory. Dave just wants to fix the roof (Times) (£)

For Labour, politics is a morality play, says Philip Collins. The Tories just want to solve problems and hard luck if people get hurt.

7. The IMF's foolish praise for austerity (Financial Times)

Martin Wolf contests the IMF's recent announcement on the coalition's Budget -- effective policy would see the UK government increase its deficit.

8. Don't give up on the Celtic Tiger just yet (Independent)

It is possible Ireland will seek support from the EU, but it will probably scramble through, says Hamish McRae.

9. Nigeria: back from the precipice (Guardian)

Fifty years ago, hopes were high for Nigeria's independence, says Ike Okonta. Will they finally be realised?

10. India will cross the line only in its own good time (Financial Times)

Kevan Watts is confident India will overcome its infrastructure woes, despite many challenges to accelerating it's development.

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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