Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. The Tories are trying to buy the election (Independent)

Jack Straw says that David Cameron's plan to fight the most expensive election campaign in British political history is at odds with his "age of austerity", and accuses the Tory leader of attempting to buy his way to power.

2. A dying refrain (Times)

A leader attacks China's execution of Akmal Shaikh and says that it has illuminated "the state-blessed barbarism" of that country's penal code.

3. What this execution doesn't say about China and Britain (Independent)

But a leader in the Independent says it is hypocritical to criticise China for using the death penalty while we appear to turn a blind eye to its use elsewhere.

4. David Cameron's campaign suggests a belief in nothing except money (Daily Telegraph)

Like Jack Straw, Simon Heffer argues that an £18m Tory election campaign is likely to trouble a country "in the grip of austerity".

5. Broken Bosnia needs western attention (Financial Times)

William Hague and Paddy Ashdown warn that Bosnia's "cold peace" is under threat and say that Europe must act to prevent the breakdown of the state.

6. A decade of global crimes, but also crucial advances (Guardian)

Seumas Milne argues that the death of the Washington consensus and the emergence of a multipolar world give reason to be cheerful.

7. Amid dark times, meet the most inspiring people of 2009 (Independent)

Johann Hari names the most inspiring figures of 2009, including Peter Tatchell, Amy Goodman and Evo Morales, and says they have followed the advice of the newsman Wes Nisker to "make your own news".

8. The trouble with Twitter (Guardian)

James Harkin says Twitter has done little more than allow us "to stare at our own narcissistic reflection".

9. The challenges of managing our post-crisis world (Financial Times)

Martin Wolf warns of a "perilous complacency" that ignores the continuing fragility of our global economy and civilisation.

10. Inheritance tax penalises aspiration (Daily Telegraph)

A leader praises the Tories for defending their plan to cut inheritance tax and calls on the party to take a similarly robust line on the new 50p income-tax rate.


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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.