Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1.This is no ripping yarn, but a murder to fan more conflict (Guardian)

Seumas Milne attacks the "craven" response of the British government to the Hamas leader's killing in Dubai. The assassination was a scandal that has put British citizens at greater risk by association with Mossad death squads, he writes.

2. Whoever you vote for, painful cuts will come (Times)

Anatole Kaletsky says that the important differences between Labour and the Tories are not over the size or timing of cuts, but over whether voters and the markets believe the new government will have the strength to implement them.

3. The false promise of romantic ideas (Independent)

One of the main divisions within the Labour Party is that between romantic and practical politicians, writes Steve Richards. Romantics such as James Purnell may appear bold, but they avoid the tough task of implementing policy, which demands more courage.

4. Cameron will transform Britain, if the Tories can win the political game (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron should personally avoid negative campaigning, but he ought to find others to do it for him, says Bruce Anderson. A more robust campaign would dispel some of the growing anxiety at Tory HQ.

5. America is in need of a pep talk from its president (Financial Times)

Robert Shiller says Barack Obama should remember the role that Franklin D Roosevelt's personal addresses played in the success of his economic plans. Through moral rhetoric, leaders can boost economic confidence.

6. We need judges to investigate our spies, not spies to berate our judges (Guardian)

Timothy Garton Ash argues that the criticism of judges over the Binyam Mohamed case is entirely unwarranted. And he calls for a judicial inquiry into the past conduct of MI5.

7. The hand extended to Syria is also intended as a blow to Iran (Independent)

The renewed US engagement with Syria is part of a huge diplomatic push to isolate and roll back Iran, says Andrew Tabler.

8. Don't panic about inflation -- that can wait (Daily Telegraph)

Edmund Conway argues that now is not the time to panic about inflation. Far more worrying are the recessionary forces still damaging the economy.

9. Give me Tory dinosaurs any day over rude upstarts who seem to hate their own party (Daily Mail)

Stephen Glover criticises the Tory candidate Joanne Cash for mocking her party's grass roots as "dinosaurs". As Conservatives, Cash and Cameron should cherish the wisdom and experience of the old guard.

10. Reject ad hoc, national financial reforms (Financial Times)

Dominic Strauss-Kahn, head of the IMF, says the world's leading economies must remember that co-ordinated action works better than unilateralism.

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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.