Ten things you won’t hear about while everyone discusses Kate Middleton’s pregnancy

News keeps happening, although it might not seem like it at the moment.

  1. Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi has reportedly defected from Assad’s regime. Makdissi, who is part of Syria’s Christian minority, had previously staunchly defended the regime’s crackdown, but is now said to have “left the country”. There are also reports that the UN is pulling its staff out of Syria, meaning that aid missions outside the city of Damascus will be suspended.
     
  2. There’s a pretty important economic event happening in the UK on Wednesday, when George Osborne will deliver his Autumn Statement (yes, it is December, but he doesn’t seem to know that). The FT have a handy outline of what you can expect if you like tax, rather than cooing over the possibility of twins, here.
     
  3. Five EU states have summoned their respective Israeli ambassadors to protest against Israel’s authorisation of 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
     
  4. Spain has requested a €39.5bn bailout from the EU for its struggling banking sector. The Telegraph reports that “€37bn of that will go to the four big banks, while €2.5bn will be dropped into the ‘bad bank’ which is soaking up much of the country's toxic property assets”.
     
  5. Kim Jong-Un is probably going to start testing missiles again quite soon.
     
  6. Paul McCartney will appear in the final print edition of The Dandy, before it goes online-only. Apparently, he’s a big fan.
     
  7. Despite the so-called “shareholder spring” earlier this year, where shareholders voted against remuneration packages for FTSE100 bosses, executive pay is still up 12 per cent in the last 12 months.
     
  8. The DRC government has regained control over Goma, but the M23 rebels are still only a few kilometres away, according to Reuters.
     
  9. It looks like Italy is going to have a centre-left prime minister come the spring – Pier Luigi Bersani has retained control of his party, which is ahead in the polls. The BBC says he’s a a slow-talking cigar-smoking former-communist, in case you were wondering.
     
  10. Some people think the world is going to end on 21 December, so French authorities are going to pre-emptively close a mountain just in case. Apparently, the doomsday cultists “believe the Pic de Bugarach is an ‘alien garage’ and that extraterrestrials are quietly waiting in a massive cavity beneath the rock for the world to end”.
     
Pic de Bugarach, aka Mayan doomsday mountain. Photograph: WikiCommons

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

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. 

0800 7318496