Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. If we can't afford for people to be disabled, what's the plan? (Guardian)

Those with the greatest needs comprise 2% of the population yet are taking 15% of cuts, writes Zoe Williams. That's more than a loss of dignity.

2. Drinking yourself to death is not a right (Financial Times)

Societies should try to limit alcoholism and obesity, as they have with tobacco use, says John Gapper.

3. Papal conclave: the man from the end of the world (Guardian)

The appointment of Pope Francis is a recognition that the church's future lies not in Europe, or not only in Europe, says a Guardian editorial.

4. Hollande, Cameron and how not to be a leader (Independent)

The French President appears too relaxed, while our PM has the opposite problem, writes Andreas Whittam Smith.

5. The EU’s insidious war on the nation state must be halted (Daily Telegraph)

As a voice of fairness and free trade, Britain can help to remodel the future of Europe, argues Jesse Norman.

6. Germany has one last chance to really save the eurozone (Guardian)

The eurozone's largest economy must try harder, says Timothy Garton Ash. It has far more to lose from a collapse than any other country.

7. A new battle is commencing against the concreting of the English countryside (Daily Mail)

The government’s stance on planning mocks David Cameron’s professed commitment to localism, says Max Hastings. 

8. No 10’s new PR man has Whitehall in a spin (Daily Telegraph)

Alex Aiken has ruffled feathers with a full-on critique of the civil service’s performance, writes Sue Cameron.

9. This pandering to religion can only harm us (Times) (£)

Gender segregation at a small meeting at a British university tells a larger story – of a line we must never cross, writes David Aaronovitch.

10. Beware monetary experimentation (Financial Times)

A little well-targeted fiscal relaxation feels less risky at this stage, writes Martin Taylor.

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.