Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The farce of the Hinkley C nuclear reactor will haunt Britain for decades (Guardian)

We need nuclear power, says George Monbiot. But the government has plumped for outdated technology at the worst price imaginable.

2. Watch out for a European Tea Party (Financial Times)

The big danger to the euro is that the political consensus that underpins it could come unstuck, writes Gideon Rachman. 

3. Loneliness is an inevitable result of Britain's economic model (Guardian)

Jeremy Hunt is wrong on who loneliness affects, wrong on what causes it, and wrong on what's happening in Asia, writes Aditya Chakrabortty.

4. Voters don’t want two tribes going to war (Times)

Nick Clegg signed up to the free-schools policy, writes Rachel Sylvester. He should not now rubbish it for electoral gain.

5. Rising energy costs: the bullies at the Big Six must be stood up to (Independent)

It’s the story of modern capitalism: debt is nationalised and profits are privatised, writes Owen Jones.

6. Rachel Reeves needs the thickest skin in the shadow cabinet (Guardian)

Rachel Reeves is Labour's best hope for shifting the national conversation towards how to give the unemployed a future, writes Polly Toynbee.

7. A price worth paying to keep the lights on (Daily Telegraph)

Hinkley Point gives Britain breathing space for proper strategic thinking on energy, says a Telegraph editorial.

8. Cameron must fear narrow election win (Financial Times)

Many Tories regard the prime minister as a ‘Conservative In Name Only’, writes Janan Ganesh.

9. Today’s conference on Syria is an opportunity for progress at last (Independent)

With Syria in military stalemate, there is no alternative but to seek a political solution, says an Independent editorial. 

10. It’s hard not to be cynical about politicians as the election nears (Daily Telegraph)

Once-favoured policies are being shamelessly disowned as the parties jockey for advantage, says Iain Martin.

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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