Web Only: the best of the blogs

The five must-read blogs from today, including why No. 10 doesn't forecast a Tory majority.

1. Number 10 don't forecast Tory majority

ConservativeHome's Tim Montgomerie explains why Downing Street thinks another coalition remains is very likely and even desirable after the next election.

2. Why won't ministers speak up for David Cameron?

Senior ministers are refusing to take to the airwaves to put the government's case, reveals the Telegraph's Benedict Brogan

3. Unfortunately, more cuts won't help Labour in the polls

It is hopelessly optimistic to believe that Labour will benefit as the full force of Osborne's austerity programme is felt, says Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy.

4. Why thuggery cuts both ways in Egypt

Only when the military step down can Eygpt's problems really be addressed, says Jonathan Rugman at Channel 4.

5. Why women (including me) say 'no' to Question Time

Question Time is dispiriting, exhausting and exasperating, says Janet Daley.

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 chaiman, 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 he was 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. 

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.” 

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.