Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. A race between growth and populism (Financial Times)

The threat to the euro now comes from populists seeking to overturn the liberal order, writes Philip Stephens.

2. Ed Miliband is a blancmange in a hurricane (Daily Telegraph)

Labour’s leader is weak, indecisive, lacks clarity, and has turned his party into a vacuum, says Michael Gove.

3. The murder of April Jones tested the strength of my community (Guardian)

For everyone connected, the experience has been shattering, but with Mark Bridger's conviction, the process of healing can begin, writes George Monbiot.

4. Cameron believes in marriage - so why doesn't he support it? (Daily Telegraph)

The PM has fought a bitter battle over gay marriage, but not on behalf of those who most need it, says Fraser Nelson.

5. Of borders and benefits: social security for EU nationals (Guardian)

The spirit of the EU is supposed to mitigate against individual states passing laws to treat other EU nationals less generously, says a Guardian editorial. 

6. The US war on terror is not yet over (Financial Times)

In some countries drones are the only face of American foreign policy, writes Ahmed Rashid.

7. Russia holds the key to ending Assad’s brutal and bloody reign in Syria (Independent)

Moscow is dropping heavy hints that - without US engagement - the status quo will prevail, writes Peter Popham.

8. George Osborne's botch job has left housing in crisis (Daily Telegraph)

The Help to Buy scheme is pointless without a coherent approach to planning, writes Isabel Hardman.

9. Russia holds the key to ending Assad’s brutal and bloody reign in Syria (Independent)

Moscow is dropping heavy hints that - without US engagement - the status quo will prevail, writes Peter Popham.

10. The Lib Dems should try being real liberals (Times)

To reverse his spectacular decline, Nick Clegg must move away from the centre ground, argues Mark Littlewood.

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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