Ed Balls is the least popular Labour politician

Blow for leadership candidate as poll shows that he is significantly less popular than his rivals.

Opinion polls on politicians should always be treated with caution, for the simple reason that many of those surveyed will know little or nothing about the figures in question.

But with Labour immersed in its first leadership contest for 16 years, the latest PoliticsHome poll may make more of an impact. The poll found that Jon Cruddas is Labour's most popular politician, with an approval rating of +3. He is the only Labour figure with a positive rating, although only 27 per cent of the public had an opinion of him.

That Cruddas has never held ministerial office means that he has not been required to take the sort of decisions that can alienate the public. But I'd be surpirsed if his affable, open style didn't also benefit him.

Of the leadership contenders, Andy Burnham fares best, with an approval rating of -2, followed by Ed Miliband on - 5, David Miliband on -7 and Ed Balls on -39. Of the four, more of the public (61 per cent) had an opinion on Balls than any other candidate.

Findings like this should concentrate Labour minds. It would be politically irresponsible to elect a candidate so clearly disliked by the public.

Meanwhile, despite the noble efforts of my colleague Mehdi Hasan, Vince Cable remains Britain's most popular politician, with an approval rating of +24.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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.