Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today on a "bigoted woman", Tory councils and the right-wing media.

1. Brown was wrong - but politicians need to disagree with voters too

Sunder Katwala says that the lesson from Brown's encounter today is that any disagreement ought to be expressed to the voter, not privately afterwards.

2. Why Brown was right to blame his staff

At Comment Central, Daniel Finkelstein says Gordon Brown was right to be angry with his staff this morning: they forgot to tell him to take the mike off.

3. Options for David Cameron if there's a hung parliament

Gary Gibbon explores whether David Cameron could strike a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party in the event of a hung parliament. He also reveals that the Lib Dems believe Cameron will be able to lead a minority government if he is no more than 20 seats short of a majority.

4. Cameron's Councils show the real face of Tory government

Over at Left Foot Forward, Mary Thorogood argues that we should look at Tory councils to get a picture of what a Conservative Britain would look like -- and it certainly isn't the "supportive funding environment for volunteer-based charities and community groups" that Cameron describes.

5. Exclusive poll: newspaper hostility makes voters more likely to back Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat Voice's Mark Pack publishes the results of a survey which found that press attacks on the Lib Dems make people more likely to vote for the party.


Sign up now to CommentPlus for the pick of the day's opinion, comment and analysis in your inbox at 8am, every weekday.

Grant Shapps on the campaign trail. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

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.