Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The arts are more than a way to make money, Maria Miller (Observer)

The culture minister tells Hull what a financial boon being City of Culture will be. She's missing the point, writes Catherine Bennett.

2. Thanks to Paul Flowers, expect politics to get ugly again (Sunday Telegraph)

There was tacit agreement that politicians’ past indiscretions were a private matter, says Matthew D'Ancona, but the gloves could be off for the election in 2015.

3. Needed fast: a human face on the invisible crime of modern slavery (Sunday Times) (£)

Slavery is back, in the country that so proudly abolished it 180 years ago, writes Camilla Cavendish.

4. David Cameron demeans his office (Independent on Sunday)

Ed Miliband: The Conservatives’ tactics of fear and smear raise serious questions about type of politics we want.

5. How can banking still be a source of scandal so long after the crash? (Observer)

There are alarming signs that people are behaving as if there were nothing really to learn from the bubble years, says Andrew Rawnsley.

6. Tory smearing of Labour is vilest form of politics - and all because they are in a mess (Mirror)

We’re set for one of the dirtiest election campaigns this country has seen, says Owen Jones, writing as a guest columnist.

7. Yes, we do need to change the age of consent. To 35. (Independent on Sunday)

The first pleasure of bodily love isn’t penetration - it's disobedience, says Howard Jacobson.

8. Pulling off these two deals might just rescue President Knife Edge (Sunday Times) (£)

The Obama presidency — like the Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and Bush presidencies before it — is now in a severe second-term crisis, writes Andrew O'Sullivan.

9. Self-improving strivers need rewarding, too (Sunday Telegraph)

Janet Daley: Bizarrely, only the truly rich and the truly poor have had their income tax cut

10. Universities should be the last place to ban free speech (Observer)

The censorship of an atheist bookstall at freshers' week is just another example of heavy-handed repression in our universities, writes Nick Cohen.

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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