Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Free speech can't exist unchained. US politics needs the tonic of order (Guardian)

Simon Jenkins argues that if America is to speak in a way that heals, as Barack Obama wishes, it needs the curbs and regulations that make freedom of expression real.

2. These UCTs could be a real technical breakthrough (Times) (£)

The right's snobbish elitism and the left's patronising anti-elitism failed generations at school. Now, says Philip Collins, we can put it right.

3. Australia is still the lucky country (Independent)

Amid the floods, says Terence Blacker, neighbours have helped each other out and people remain stoical, even amid the wreckage of their homes.

4. The risks of raising interest rates too quickly (Financial Times)

Should the Bank of England tighten now in response to a possible overshoot of its target two years hence? No, says Martin Wolf.

5. Mervyn King must hold his nerve (Guardian)

The Bank of England was right, says Larry Elliott. Even with inflation, interest-rate rises would be a monumental blunder.

6. The only way to save the euro is the destruction of its members (Daily Telegraph)

Britain beware – European integration has reached a dangerous tipping point, writes Peter Oborne.

7. We've never been better able to feed the world (Times) (£)

Forget scare stories about rising population and record food prices, says Matt Ridley – we can now grow more crops on less land.

8. A stark lesson for ageing Arab autocrats (Financial Times)

Claire Spencer suggests that the region's leaders lack national narratives that they can use to justify repression.

9. Richard Holbrooke's true memorial would be a lasting peace in Afghanistan (Daily Telegraph)

There are worrying reports of the insurgency mutating into global jihadism, writes David Miliband.

10. The Lib Dems will gain strength through weakness (Guardian)

In coalition, small parties are offered concessions, says Martin Kettle. And in the modern world of fairness and volatility, they can thrive.

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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