In this week's New Statesman: Dads: the answer to the riots?

Exclusive: Mehdi Hasan meets Tariq Jahan | Laurie Penny interviews Johnnie Marbles |Olivier Roy on S


In this week's New Statesman, we invite ten left-wing thinkers to break the family values taboo and asks if dads are the answer to the riots. Inside, Spirit Level authors Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson argue that poverty is the real issue, not fathers, Blue Labour thinker Marc Stears says that blaming everything on inequality is a cop-out, Owen Jones warns that the unrest is being used to push a reactionary agenda, Labour MP Diane Abbott says that single mothers need support, not lectures, and Will Straw explains why encouraging marriage by tax breaks is pointless.

Elsewhere, Mehdi Hasan meets Tariq Jahan, whose quiet dignity over his son's death made him a national hero. Jahan speaks movingly about losing a child, the radical Islamist past he abandoned to become a father, and why society isn't "broken".

Also this week, Laurie Penny talks to Johnnie Marbles, whose pie attack on Rupert Murdoch landed him in prison, John Pilger condemns the system of greed and self-interest behind the riots, Olivier Roy explains why Syria's crisis is a turning point for the region, and Helen Lewis-Hasteley talks to Ranulph Fiennes about conquering Everest.

All this, plus Alice Miles on class segregation in the United States, Noah Richler on the fresh faces transforming Canadian politics, and David Marquand on Europe's struggle for popular sovereignty.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.