Sport relief

Pictures of leaders demonstrating their sporting prowess.

It's important for all of us to stay fit and healthy but it's especially vital when you're tasked with running a country. With all those decisions, discussions and meetings, it's essential that our leaders take time to clear their heads, burn off some calories and occasionally tear a few muscles.

Here are examples of our leaders embarking on really strenuous exercise.

Earlier this month David Cameron was caught showing off his table tennis skills at a London primary school. He clearly didn't do enough to impress the kids in the background.

Perhaps an adviser must have mentioned that being a dab hand at table tennis was a requisite for high office.

Maybe it's Labour protocol never to judge members by their sporting ability, but despite all his training with Kevin Keegan, Tony Blair could really do with some practice.

Similarly, Bush Sr lacked any semblance of technique. But he can be forgiven -- at least he dressed the part.

Like father, like son. Bush Jr was once a managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team. Based on the evidence here, though, he can never have expected to play.

Unlike Hugo Chávez, Bush couldn't display the levels of commitment, enthusiasm and perspiration necessary to succeed in professional baseball.

Have we missed any sporting titans from the political arena? Let us have your suggestions below.

All photographs from AFP/Getty Images.

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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.