Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. MPs must not decide what goes in the papers (Times) (£)

The public mood is for a press law. But that mood will blow over and we will look foolish if we give into it, says Matthew Parris.

2. You're not a tourist, Obama. Go to Israel with a message (Guardian)

As Netanyahu unveils his new government, the US president should echo Israel's former security chiefs: the occupation must end, says Jonathan Freedland. 

3. Nigel Farage: beware Ukip's smiling assassin (Daily Telegraph)

The Ukip leader Nigel Farage his party of 'cranks and gadflies’ have become a clear and present danger to David Cameron and the Conservative Party, writes Judith Woods.

4. The Leveson dispute could destroy our free press (Independent)

One of the principles that made me want to be a journalist in the first place and to help produce a newspaper such as this one, is at stake, says Chris Blackhurst.

5. Osborne and Cameron must cut further (FT) (£)

The choice is pain now or prolonged agony later, writes Terry Leahy.

6. Royalists make the lives of the royal family a misery (Guardian)

The monarchy locks people in a gilded cage and denies them the most basic freedom of all – the freedom to be themselves, writes Deborah Orr.

7. Charities must clean up their act if they want us to dig deep (Daily Telegraph)

Surveys show that people will donate more when they understand the purpose of the donation, so maybe charities should stop trying to function as political groups, argues Graeme Archer.

8. How to protect individuals and press freedom (Times) (£)

Our Royal Charter-plus will ensure robust self-regulation while winning cross-party support, writes Nick Clegg.

9. David Cameron's court rounds on Theresa May (Daily Express)

Every prime minister has a court, rather in the style of a Tudor monarch, says Patrick O'Flynn.

10. The new Pope promises a new approach in the Catholic Church - but will this extend to Twitter? (Independent)

Perhaps it's time for @pontifex to loosen up and add Piers Morgan, says Simon Kelner.

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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