The Afghan Badlands and Wikipedia

David Miliband on a decade of "asymmetric decay".

Speaking last night, David Miliband outlined the reasons why he believes the last decade has been the most traumatic for the west since the 1930s.

At an event organised by Intelligence Squared, titled Ten Years after 9/11: The World Remade, the former foreign secretary gave a breakdown of what he described as the "degeneration" of old power structures, and stressed the importance of recognising the need for coherent global interdependence.

Miliband argued that over the past decade, three key features of the international stage have been eroded: Firstly, the historic dominance of the United States; secondly, the shift in the balance of power as a result of this, and thirdly, the deterioration of shared sovereignty in the European Union.

He described America as "a reluctant empire" that has had an increasing focus on internal affairs since Bill Clinton ended his second term. No cogent enemies have raised the US ire other than disparate groups inhabiting the Afghan "Badlands", these semi-independent factions being taken on by the American government in an al-Qaeda instigated "detour" of foreign policy. Miliband likened the sum of individual acts of anarchy against the west to the domination of Microsoft's failed online encyclopaedia by the publicly edited Wikipedia, a relationship he termed "asymmetric decay".

He highlighted what he called a "fundamental divide between politicians and academics over how to create an interdependent world". Some prefer to cling to the cosy notion of the nation-state, Miliband said, while progressive groups expound the virtues of shared sovereignty and a recognition of the increasing role of the individual.

"When we talk about the balance of power we have to talk about people not just states," he said. "The west is going to have to rediscover the joys of multilateralism."

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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