Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from today's newspapers.

  1. The numbers that add up to trouble for all political parties (Observer)
    Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems must reinvent themselves as mass-membership organisations, writes Andrew Rawnsley.
  2. Ed Miliband's bid to make us pay for his party (Daily Mail)
    There is undoubtedly a hidden agenda behind Ed Miliband’s decision to try to reform the way the unions help finance Labour, writes Simon Heffer.
  3. On school meals, has Michael Gove gone all socialist? (Observer)
    The minister's faith in a food plan suggests he accepts the state has a role to play, writes Jay Rayner.
  4. Modern voters are very receptive to the Right's old economic values (Sunday Telegraph)
    Many ethnic minority populations are aspirational and hard-working. They should be natural conservative voters, writes Janet Daley.
  5. What's so wrong with marriage? (Independent on Sunday)
    Janet Street-Porter would like to see it rebranded, because children whose parents live together may suffer when relationships break down.
  6. Government reshuffle rumours bode ill for forward-looking Tories (Sunday Telegraph)
    A government that ejects a politician of David Willetts' calibre, intellect and experience to make space for (say) an Etonian with a full head of hair is practising self-harm, writes Matthew d’Ancona.
  7. Ed’s offering to give up £10m. What about you Dave? (Sunday Times)
    The old maxim had it that the Tories got into trouble over sex and Labour over money. No more, writes Adam Boulton.
  8. Bravo, Ed Miliband! But who'll pay for the election now? (Independent on Sunday)
    It takes an unusual form of political principle to say no to £9m a year, writes John Rentoul
  9. The one that didn’t get away: small fishermen net a little justice (Sunday Times)
    Charles Clover praises the High Court's ruling in favour of small-boat fishermen.
  10. Open season on black boys after a verdict like this (Guardian)
    Calls for calm after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin are empty words for black families, writes Gary Younge.

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

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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.