Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Ed Miliband has a cunning plan: win power and then give it away (Daily Telegraph)

With big spending cuts inevitable after the next election, Labour’s new localism makes economic sense, says Mary Riddell. 

2. Aid money can’t work magic here – but it can overseas (Times)

More should be spent on flood management schemes in Britain, but don’t take it from the aid budget, says Tim Montgomerie. 

3. Enslave the robots and free the poor (Financial Times)

The prospect of far better lives depends on how the gains are produced and distributed, writes Martin Wolf. 

4. For devolution to work, we need talent outside London (Independent)

A century ago, civic leaders in cities and towns outside London had a power, influence and prestige comparable to the government in Westminster, writes Oliver Wright. 

5. Floods happen sometimes: the blame game is for show (Guardian)

Cameron may have rushed to the rescue, writes Simon Jenkins. But the truth is the government cannot insulate us from every evil under the sun.

6. Britain shouldn’t copy the xenophobic Swiss (Times)

The EU reaction to the immigration vote may indicate how much UK renegotiation is possible, writes Roger Boyes. 

7. The floods: coping strategy (Guardian)

David Cameron was keen to show he was a Gerhard Schröder and not a George W Bush, says a Guardian editorial. 

8. A fall guy for the floods comes out fighting (Daily Telegraph)

Lord Smith and the Environment Agency have been unfairly hung out to dry, says Geoffrey Lean. 

9. Smoking in cars: the hidden agenda behind the ban (Guardian)

The MPs who can't bear to see children in smoky cars but are unmoved by their poverty are simply demonising poor parents, says Zoe Williams. 

10. Political appointments require honesty (Financial Times)

Without robust safeguards, our institutions could be weakened, writes Patrick Diamond.

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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