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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. As Labour stalls, it’s time to bring on the new Balls (Daily Telegraph)

Far from blaming the shadow chancellor for "crashing the car", Ed Balls's party is giving him more power, writes Mary Riddell. 

2. Time for Draghi to open the sluice (Financial Times)

Markets are betting on indefinite austerity, writes Martin Wolf. If it comes to an end, the euro crisis could return.

3. The starry-eyed west is walking into Iran’s trap (Times)

Hassan Rouhani is the plausible front man for a regime still bent on building a nuclear bomb, writes Roger Boyes.

4. The Union is in better shape than we think (Daily Telegraph)

A series of faux pas by Scottish nationalists has cheered up the Better Together camp, says Alan Cochrane. 

5. Ed Miliband must give up his love of state intervention (Guardian)

The Labour leader's stance on AstraZeneca is beyond silly, writes Simon Jenkins. He needs a route map to cash in on the coalition's chaos.

6. Pfizer/AstraZeneca: prescription for failure (Guardian)

The case against a takeover by the US company is easy to make – and then there is the bigger industrial picture, says a Guardian editorial. 

7. Pfizer takeover needs a proper investigation (Daily Mail)

The attempted takeover is an issue of profound importance for British jobs, science and industry, says a Daily Mail editorial. 

8. How much you spend on a haircut holds the key to maintaining a stable economy in an era of low inflation (Independent)

Central banks will in future rely less on interest rates to try to stop bubbles, writes Hamish McRae.

9. The man who won a Nobel prize for parking (Times)

From crime to tuition fees, countless aspects of our lives are influenced by the late economist Gary Becker, writes Daniel Finkelstein. 

10. How a proud corporate history can lead to poor governance (Financial Times)

The Co-op and University of Oxford have fallen victim to failed governance structures, writes John Kay. 

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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