Opinionomics | 1 May 2012

Must-read comment and analysis. Featuring Paul v Paul and Ha-Joon Chang.

1. Cutting red tape and taxes will not revive Britain (Guardian)

Without completely rebuilding its economic model, the future of the British economy is bleak, writes Ha-Joon Chang.

2. What makes health-care and education costs similar to each other — and unlike anything else Washington Post | Wonkblog)

Ezra Klein looks at the similarities between health care and higher education. Are costs for both spiralling out of control because of government intervention – or despite it?

3. Lloyds almost off addiction to taxpayer loans (BBC News)

Robert Peston writes about the good news for taxpayers in Lloyds' latest results.

4. Economy Face Off: Ron Paul vs Paul Krugman (Bloomberg)

Twenty minutes of Paul v Paul. It's like a clash of the titans, if one of the titans wasn't actually a titan but just had a lot of people on the internet who thought he was.

5. No alternative to austerity (Financial Times)

Gideon Rachman sticks his head in the sand.

An emergency department in Washington DC. How similar is it to a university? Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
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Grant Shapps resigns over Tory youth wing bullying scandal

The minister, formerly party chairman, has resigned over allegations of bullying and blackmail made against a Tory activist. 

Grant Shapps, who was a key figure in the Tory general election campaign, has resigned following allegations about a bullying scandal among Conservative activists.

Shapps was formerly party chairman, but was demoted to international development minister after May. His formal statement is expected shortly.

The resignation follows lurid claims about bullying and blackmail among Tory activists. One, Mark Clarke, has been accused of putting pressure on a fellow activist who complained about his behaviour to withdraw the allegation. The complainant, Elliot Johnson, later killed himself.

The junior Treasury minister Robert Halfon also revealed that he had an affair with a young activist after being warned that Clarke planned to blackmail him over the relationship. Former Tory chair Sayeedi Warsi says that she was targeted by Clarke on Twitter, where he tried to portray her as an anti-semite. 

Shapps appointed Mark Clarke to run RoadTrip 2015, where young Tory activists toured key marginals on a bus before the general election. 

Today, the Guardian published an emotional interview with the parents of 21-year-old Elliot Johnson, the activist who killed himself, in which they called for Shapps to consider his position. Ray Johnson also spoke to BBC's Newsnight:


The Johnson family claimed that Shapps and co-chair Andrew Feldman had failed to act on complaints made against Clarke. Feldman says he did not hear of the bullying claims until August. 

Asked about the case at a conference in Malta, David Cameron pointedly refused to offer Shapps his full backing, saying a statement would be released. “I think it is important that on the tragic case that took place that the coroner’s inquiry is allowed to proceed properly," he added. “I feel deeply for his parents, It is an appalling loss to suffer and that is why it is so important there is a proper coroner’s inquiry. In terms of what the Conservative party should do, there should be and there is a proper inquiry that asks all the questions as people come forward. That will take place. It is a tragic loss of a talented young life and it is not something any parent should go through and I feel for them deeply.” 

Mark Clarke denies any wrongdoing.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.