Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read posts from today, on Vote Match, YouGov and mephedrone.

1. Is Vote Match right?

Iain Dale wonders whether the website's questions are incorrectly weighted, after his test results indicate that he should vote Ukip.

2. Why's the Telegraph turning on its former pollster?

PoliticalBetting's Mike Smithson explains YouGov's methodology, in the light of an attack by the Telegraph on the polling group for "overstating" popular support for Labour.

3. David Howarth writes . . . Now is the time to reform our penal policy

Over at Liberal Democrat Voice, the MP David Howarth writes about the desperate need for reform of the prison system, which is near crisis point.

4. Forward to the past! Charlie Leadbeater and Phillip Blond lead the way

At openDemocracy, William Davies discusses Leadbeater's new pamphlet, Digging for the Future, and the yearning for radicalism evident in this and other ideas circulating at the moment.

5. Drugs adviser quits! "Little or no discussion" on drug

Another drugs adviser has quit over the banning of mephedrone. At Liberal Conspiracy, Sunny Hundal publishes the full resignation letter.

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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.