Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today on the Alternative Vote, Jon Stewart and the Olympics.

1. Are voters more enthusiastic for AV the more they understand?

At PoliticalBetting, Mike Smithson analyses a new poll suggesting that the more voters learn about the Alternative Vote, the more they like it.

2. Are Clegg and Huhne in trouble?

UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells assesses new polling from Lord Ashcroft suggesting that Nick Clegg and Chris Huhe are in danger of losing their seats at the next election.

3. NPR: Love ya, but you're wrong

Jeff Jarvis attacks NPR's decision not to allow its staff to attend Jon Stewart's Rally for Sanity.

4. Migrationwatch need to go back to school and learn how to count

At Left Foot Forward, Sarah Mulley and Glenn Gottfried call Migrationwatch out on its claim that migrants will impose "additional" costs on the taxpayer.

5. What happened to an 'affordable' Olympics?

So much for the "most inclusive Games ever", writes Paul Waugh. Less than 30 per cent of the tickets will be £20 or less.


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.