Liu Xiaobo wins Nobel Peace Prize

Jailed Chinese pro-democracy activist is honoured in spite of Beijing's criticisms

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been named as this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, despite warnings from Beijing that his selection could damage China-Norway relations.

Liu was jailed in December 2009 for co-authoring a 2008 manifesto which called for, among other things, multi-party elections and free speech. He is currently serving an eleven-year sentence in a prison in Jinzhou, 500km outside of Beijing, for "inciting subversion of state power". Previous reports suggest that he could well be among the last to find out about his prize.

A university academic, Liu has repeatedly been arrested and sentenced for his participation in human rights protests, including the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989.

His win, from prison, will be particular galling for the Chinese government, which has previously been outspoken about his nomination for the prize. Back in February, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said:

"If the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to such a person, it is obvious that it is totally wrong."

The prize comes with an award of 10 million Swedish crowns (around £950,000), usually presented along with the prize itself at a ceremony in Oslo in December. It is not yet known whether anyone will collect Liu's prize on his behalf.

Caroline Crampton is web 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.