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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Pfizer's takeover of AstraZeneca must be blocked (Guardian)

We can't allow an excellent and strategically important British company to be dismembered by American asset-strippers, says David Sainsbury. 

2. Ed will never have the look of a prime minister (Times)

The real Miliband is not a madcap Marxist but an aloof, awkward intellectual incapable of convincing the voters, writes Philip Collins. 

3. Putin could drive an army through the gaps in Britain's defences (Daily Telegraph)

Events in Ukraine show why David Cameron cannot afford to run down our military capability, says Fraser Nelson. 

4. University economics teaching isn't an education: it's a £9,000 lobotomy (Guardian)

Economics took a battering after the financial crisis, but faculties are refusing to teach alternative views, writes Aditya Chakrabortty. It's as if there's only one way to run an economy.

5. Why the Tories dread another five years of Clegg (Daily Telegraph)

Conservatives and Lib Dems are bickering ahead of next year's general election, but what if they have to work together again afterwards, asks Isabel Hardman. 

6. The NHS is on the brink: can it survive till May 2015? (Guardian)

Jeremy Hunt's main task is to keep the health service out of the news until the election, writes Polly Toynbee. Tories are praying he succeeds.

7. AstraZeneca is more than investors’ call (Financial Times)

Shareholders build diversified portfolios to avoid risk, writes Martin Wolf. Employees are far more exposed.

8. Nobody can call Ukip a racist party now (Times)

Attacks from the left and right are unfounded, says Nigel Farage. Ethnic minority voters are flocking to us.

9. The tradition of philanthropy has seemingly died out in the UK (Independent)

The advent of the welfare state was viewed incorrectly as lessening the need for charity, writes Chris Blackhurst. 

10. German angst turns Europe back to Yalta (Financial Times)

Following events in Ukraine, Berlin has to face the sort of choices it has sought to avoid, says Philip Stephens. 

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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