Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Now the Tories see the reality of public-spending cuts - and they don't like it (Independent)

Public spending can have more benevolent consequences than some ministers dared to realise in 2010, writes Steve Richards. They realise it now.

2. Hugo Chávez: an unfinished revolution (Guardian)

The truth is that there was indeed something of greatness about Chávez, says a Guardian editorial.

3. Hugo Chávez - an era of grand political illusion comes to an end (Independent)

Chávez leaves a Venezuela crippled by poverty, violence and crime, says an Independent editorial.

4. Sir David Nicholson doesn't deserve to be hounded out (Daily Telegraph)

The NHS boss could not have known what was happening on the ground during the Mid Staffs hospital crisis, says Sue Cameron.

5. Let's build more homes - who wouldn't vote for that? (Guardian)

Politicians are trying to dodge it, but the way to heal our warped housing market is to invest for the public benefit again, says Zoe Williams.

6. Welcome signs of life from Chilcot (Independent)

This week provided a rare and fleeting glimpse this week of what the Chilcot report on Iraq might produce, says an Independent editorial.

7. It’s plain what George Osborne needs to do – so just get on and do it (Daily Telegraph)

The politics are tricky, but the Budget must confront some hard economic choices, writes Jeremy Warner.

8. No formula can better a mother’s milk (Financial Times)

Children across Asia are being denied the incalculable benefits of breastfeeding, writes David Pilling. 

9. The US was midwife to Comandante Chávez (Times) (£)

Venezuela’s message is that all people desire liberty, dignity and democracy, writes David Aaronovitch. Treat them as you would be treated.

10. Billionaire’s club has become less exclusive (Financial Times)

Those yearning for recognition of their wealth should consider giving their riches away, writes John Gapper.

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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