Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Osborne should not be complacent (Financial Times)

The decision to tighten fiscal policy was a spectacular own goal even if the IMF does not dare to say so, writes Martin Wolf.

2. The Muslim faith does not turn men to terror (Daily Telegraph)

The two suspects in the Woolwich killing were violating the doctrine of their own holy book, says Mehdi Hasan.

3. Tories should not be prisoners of tradition (Times)

Tom Paine is hardly an icon of conservatism, but he has important lessons about marriage for David Cameron, writes Philip Collins.

4. Woolwich was a case study in the banality - and the idiocy - of evil (Daily Telegraph)

We shouldn’t bother looking for any logic in attacks like these, writes Fraser Nelson. There is none to be found.

5. This echo chamber of mass hysteria only aids terrorists (Guardian)

Perpetrators of violent acts of terror thrive on publicity – so politicians and the media need to stop giving it to them, writes Simon Jenkins.

6. For the best results, keep executive pay down (Times)

The bosses of the NHS and G4S earned so much that they had no fear of failure, says Ross Clark.

7. Why the right could doom welfare reform (Daily Telegraph)

Disability testing isn’t working as it should – and Conservatives must have the courage to admit it, says Isabel Hardman. 

8. George Osborne puts his pride before the national interest (Guardian)

An economically literate chancellor would rise to the challenge set down by the IMF, writes Ed Balls.

9. The long recession has one silver lining; EU leaders are finally tackling 'tax shopping' head on (Independent)

Cyprus was widely criticised for offering a haven for the money of Russian oligarchs, but the rest of Europe is littered with similarly cosy nooks, writes Peter Popham.

10. Jeremy Hunt's blundering blaming of GPs makes for bad politics (Guardian)

The health secretary is taking a risk in gunning for family doctors, says Polly Toynbee. The public trust them more than they do those in government.

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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.