Opinionomics: must-read analysis and comment

A merry Charles Murray, the mansion tax and David Blanchflower on the Budget.

1. Osborne should invest in jobs to beat depression – not cut the 50p tax rate (Independent)

David Blanchflower calls for the Chancellor to give firms renewed incentive to hire and invest in the UK, rather than spending billions cutting tax for the wealthiest in the nation.

2. How a mansion tax helps the rich (Stumbling and Mumbling)

Supporters of a mansion tax seem to have overlooked something - that such a tax would not be a tax upon the rich so much as upon the older rich, writes Tyler Cowen.

3. Out of sight, out of mind, still on the books (Economist)

The result of less visible public spending is that voters are less able to make informed judgments about their governments' expenditures, argues Free Exchange

4. Free-Trade Blinders (Project Syndicate)

Fetishizing globalization simply because it expands the economic pie is the surest way to delegitimize it in the long run, writes Dani Rodrik, who presents a remarkable example as to why we should assess whether we actually believe our own arguments.

5. Lunch with the FT: Charles Murray (Financial Times)

The social scientist talks to Ed Luce about black-truffle pasta, blue-collar America, and why the Republican party’s candidates for the White House fill him with despair.

Mansion, taxed: Wrest Park, in Sisloe, England. Credit: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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.