Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. After this shadow cabinet reshuffle, we know what's in Ed Miliband's mind (Guardian)

The Labour leader has got what he wanted, says Polly Toynbee. No lurch to the left or right, but a team unafraid of the challenges ahead.

2. Getting giddy over shale won’t do much to keep the lights on (Daily Telegraph)

Yes, fracking has vast potential - but Britain's looming energy crunch is rather more pressing, says Benedict Brogan. 

3. America cannot live so carelessly forever (Financial Times)

Playing Russian roulette is never advisable, writes Gideon Rachman. Congress may find a bullet in the chamber this time.

4. The prejudice, fear and ignorance around Alan Sugar’s – and others’ – views on Chinese labour (Independent)

So the Chinese work harder than the rest of us,  right? Wrong, says Ben Chu. 

5. Ignore the press barons: a royal charter is not 'state regulation' (Guardian)

All being well, parliament's royal charter will get the final nod from the privy council this week, writes Hugh Grant. All those who believe in a free - and fair - press should welcome it.

6. A shuffled pack doesn’t make a winning hand (Times)

Cameron can’t rely on promoting token women and northerners to win over wavering voters, writes Rachel Sylvester. 

7. UK eurosceptics are not ready for a fight (Financial Times)

Haggling over process is a good way of not having to think about substance, says Janan Ganesh.

8. At last, Clegg is making the case for Britain in the EU - just the corrective needed to Tory Europhobia (Independent)

But it will be interesting to see where the Deputy PM's speech leaves Labour, says Donald Macintyre.

9. Does Britain need an FBI? (Daily Telegraph)

The launch of the National Crime Agency is more than a rebrand: it has significant new powers over local forces, writes Philip Johnston. 

10. The problem with education? Children aren't feral enough (Guardian)

The 10-year-old Londoners I took to Wales were proof that a week in the countryside is worth three months in a classroom, writes 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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