Michael Gove leaves a television studio in Westminster yesterday. Photograph: Getty Images.
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If Gove is the most unpopular politician, why have the Tories made him minister for TV?

The man charged with wooing voters is more likely to repel them. 

If further evidence was needed of why Michael Gove was moved from Education, today's Ipsos MORI poll provides it. It shows that he is the least popular senior politician in the country, with a net likeability rating of -32, compared to -24 for George Osborne, -22 for Ed Miliband, -16 for Nigel Farage, -11 for Nick Clegg, -6 for David Cameron, +5 for Theresa May and +35 for Boris Johnson. As I write in my column in tomorrow's New Statesman, it was subterranean ratings like this that meant the coalition's Robespierre couldn't survive Cameron's Great Terror. 

Had Gove merely been made Chief Whip, a traditionally private role, the move would have been an entirely logical one. But as Cameron said yesterday, the former Education Secretary will also have "an enhanced role in campaigning and doing broadcast media interviews".

There are some in Westminster who are suggesting that this was merely spin designed to dispel the (accurate) impression that he had been demoted. But in his column in today's Evening Standard (which carries the MORI poll), Matthew d'Ancona, the chronicler of the Cameroons, writes that Gove will be "Chief Whip to the nation: the gentle persuader and kindly polemicist who will explain why we should all vote Tory." 

No one doubts Gove's rhetorical and intellectual firepower, but the question remains why the man chosen to detoxify the Conservative brand is one who so badly needs to detoxify his own. In previous election campaigns, unpopular or gaffe-prone Tory politicians have been wisely hidden from the view. Based on his ratings, some will ask why Gove isn't receiving the same treatment. 

George Eaton is political 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.