Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Prime Minister's speech on the economy asserted the incredible in defense of the indefensible (Independent)

There are many credible alternatives to the current stance of economic policy, which would deal with the deficit while promoting growth, argue David Blanchflower and Adam Posen.

2. Theresa May-nia won’t become contagious (Times) (£)

The Home Secretary has the grit to be an accomplished PM but her lack of warmth will stop her reaching No 10, says Tim Montgomerie.

3. Cameron's days at No 10 may be numbered, but the national agenda is still set by the right (Independent)

The Prime Minister is surrounded by ideological crusaders and they've succeeded in turning the politically impossible into the politically inevitable, says Owen Jones.

4. Britain needs an activist chancellor (Financial Times)

The coalition government should do more to boost growth, says an FT editorial.

5. The Falklands: a vote with no purpose (Guardian)

Britain is alone in the world if it thinks that the Malvinas referendum will decide this dispute, writes Alicia Castro.

6. A good engineer who knows his own limits (Financial Times)

Ben Bernanke’s Fed has been the only serious US economic actor, says Edward Luce.

7. David Cameron may last even as he leads his MPs to their doom (Guardian)

Tory backbenchers fear a repeat of 1997 at the next election. But that doesn't mean any of them have the courage to act on it, writes Gaby Hinsliff.

8. Ed dreams of win... don’t let him in (Sun)

David Cameron has plenty of room for manoeuvre, says Trevor Kavanagh. But he cannot count on the unpopularity of Ed Miliband to hand him victory.

9. Justice is put to the sword by Moscow’s greed and corruption (Daily Telegraph)

The ludicrous 'trial’ of a whistleblower killed for his pains ranks among Russia’s darkest hours, writes Boris Johnson.

10. Liberal Democrats: heartlands (Guardian)

Nick Clegg still feels the sacrifices are worth it, but this is becoming an increasingly difficult line to sustain, says a Guardian editorial.

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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