Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. Britain can love hung parliaments (Financial Times)

We should not be afraid of a coalition government, says Martin Wolf. The UK does not face national bankruptcy, and even if we did, we would not need strong single-party government to save our country.

2. Forgiveness for Haiti? We should be begging theirs (Guardian)

Naomi Klein argues that the very idea of Haiti as debtor needs to be abandoned. We in the west should pay arrears for years of violations such as slavery, the US occupation, dictatorship and climate change.

3. Obama's secret prisons in Afghanistan endanger us all (Independent)

Barack Obama was elected in part to end the damaging foreign policy that fosters extremism, writes Johann Hari. But instead, he has escalated the war in Afghanistan, bombed Pakistan, and even expanded secret prisons.

4. Only one force can stop Iran now: its people (Times)

Richard Haass discusses the negotations over Iran's nuclear programme, concluding that control won't be won at the negotiating table, but on the streets. The west must make clear its support for the protesters.

5. Conspiracy theories aid Britain's enemies (Daily Telegraph)

Jonathan Evans, MI5 director general, refutes the allegations about a cover-up of Binyam Mohamed's torture. It is the "opposite of the truth" to accuse MI5 of having tried to conceal torture, he says.

6. The torture memos show how illegal wars turn even the nicest people bad (Guardian)

Meanwhile, in the Guardian, Simon Jenkins condemns the whole affair: the deceit, the slaughter, the atrocity, the abuse of human rights. Today, he says, the philosopher Hannah Arendt's banality of evil is everywhere.

7. A Greek crisis is coming to America (Financial Times)

This is more than just a Mediterranean problem, says Niall Ferguson, looking at the crisis in Greece. It is a fiscal crisis of the western world that will soon spread to Britain, and eventually across the Atlantic to the US.

8. Europe needs to resolve its internal contradictions (Independent)

The Independent's leading article looks, instead, at the problems that will now face the eurozone. It says that help for Greece is necessary, but bigger challenges lie ahead.

9. Orange Cameron (Times)

The Conservatives' alliance with the Ulster Unionist Party is alarming and naive, says the leading article. The peace process is not yet robust enough for historical links to be exhumed.

10. Give prisoners the right to vote, and everybody benefits (Independent)

Robert Chesshyre says that most European countries allow some inmates to visit the polling booth. It will have to happen here one day, so why not now?

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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.