Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Tories just aren't patrician enough (Guardian)

Self-conscious and lacking in confidence, the Conservative party has forgotten the redeeming virtues of the old aristocracy, writes Geoffrey Wheatcroft.

2. London has turned its back on the very people it needs most (Daily Telegraph)

A home-buying scheme to aid the 'squeezed middle’ is essential to protect the economy, argues Boris Johnson.

3. My 2020 vision for a Boris Johnson Cabinet (Times) (£)

David Cameron faces a tough party conference, but what does the longer-term future hold for the Conservatives, asks Tim Montgomerie.

4. Americans deserve a better choice than the one they've got (Guardian)

US electoral system funded by the wealthy will never distribute resources equitably, whether Barack Obama is in charge or not, says Gary Younge.

5. We are ending the something for nothing culture (Daily Mail)

It is possible to reduce the welfare budget by a further £10bn, say George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith.

6. Conservatives in Birmingham: a nasty case of the blues (Guardian)

Since a brave speech by Theresa May in 2002, the momentum of the Tory reform project has slipped badly, says a Guardian editorial.

7. Relentless austerity will only deepen Greek woes (Financial Times)

In the absence of a very big change in policy, we should expect Spain to go down the same tube, writes Wolfgang Munchau.

8. We can profit from EU chaos (Sun)

Brussels needs Britain to help save the whole structure, not just the single currency, from collapsing in ruins, writes Trevor Kavanagh.

9. Cameron must modernise, not appease the reactionaries (Independent)

David Cameron needs to remind people who he is – a compassionate and modern conservative, says Ian Birrell.

10. Parallels between apartheid and Argentina (Financial Times)

Argentina is heading, and not for the first time, over an economic cliff, writes Tony Leon.

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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.