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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. We appeased Putin before - why confront him now? (Daily Telegraph)

The deaths in Ukraine are tiny when set against the Russian president’s past crimes, writes Peter Oborne. 

2. Can the rest of Britain compete with London? (Times)

The world economy is changing radically but the British state is largely unreformed, trapped in a different timezone, writes Tim Montgomerie. 

3. Punishing London’s oligarchs is not enough (Financial Times)

The most punitive financial sanction would be to target state-controlled Russian banks, writes John Gapper. 

4. White face, blue collar, grey hair: the 'left behind' voters only Ukip understands (Guardian)

Farage's core voters are not EU-obsessed Tories, but working-class men, write Matthew Goodwin and Robert Ford. Labour cannot afford to ignore their real concerns.

5. The hypocrisy of the great powers is on display again in Ukraine (Independent)

We should look in the mirror before condemning Russian expansionism, says Owen Jones. 

6. What a hypocrite Red Ed will be if he takes cash from the tainted pockets of tyrants' pal Tony (Daily Mail)

Self-interest, as well as principle, demand that Miliband shouldn’t seek a donation from Blair, says Stephen Glover.

7. If you’ve got a bear by the assets, it’s in trouble (Times)

Don’t listen to those trying to justify Russia’s actions, writes David Aaronovitch. mWe should respond to this military intervention with sanctions. 

8. The clash in Crimea is the fruit of western expansion (Guardian)

The external struggle to dominate Ukraine has put fascists in power and brought the country to the brink of conflict, writes Seumas Milne. 

9. Cameron's caught between a Rock and a hard place (Daily Telegraph)

The arrest of Cameron aide Patrick Rock is further proof that an over-reliance on a tight-knit group of old chums is damaging the Prime Minister’s status, says Sue Cameron. 

10. The British economy: rate relief (Guardian)

Given the scale of the calamity that hit the economy in 2008, worklessness has been nothing like as bad as we had any right to expect, notes a Guardian editorial.

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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