Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Tory party's gone crazy over Europe, and it's Cameron's fault (Daily Telegraph)

Some may see a clever new strategy, but the simple truth is that No 10 has lost control, writes Benedict Brogan. 

2. The noise on immigration is drowning out real problems (Guardian)

Desperate to sound tough, politicians are in fact making it harder to improve the plight of domestic slaves in Britain, says Polly Toynbee.

3. Britons are lazy? Don’t let Boris get away with that (Independent)

It's not 'sloth' that ruined this country's economy, whatever Boris Johnson may say, but it is another of the Seven Deadly Sins, writes Owen Jones. So let’s aim fire at greed.

4. The Tories have become ungovernable (Financial Times)

Drama is giving way to farce, writes Janan Ganesh. The eurosceptic demands are now plain odd.

5. We need to frack, but we need wind power too (Times)

Environmentalists and climate-change doubters must both get real about our energy needs, says Will Straw.

6. Obama is right to stay out of Syria (Financial Times)

The president is taking a position – and it is not the easy option, says Gideon Rachman.

7. Two parties both riven by the same old splits (Times)

The Tories are being sucked into the whirlpool of Europe, but Labour’s division on the economy runs just as deep, writes Rachel Sylvester.

8. You can’t blame Brussels for Britain’s debts (Daily Telegraph)

Our liabilities are now the highest in Europe - and that's just the start of our problems, says Dominic Raab. 

9. This is one EU crisis that need not exist (Daily Mail)

David Cameron is making unnecessary trouble for himself by appearing to pick fights with his party, where no serious disagreement exists, says a Daily Mail editorial.

10. Oxford University won't take funding from tobacco companies. But Shell's OK (Guardian)

If scholars are prepared to take an ethical stance against money from tobacco companies, why won't they against Big Oil too, asks George Monbiot.

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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