Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. An EU referendum is the political mouse that roared (Sunday Telegraph)

David Cameron's promise of a new deal has won few friends, writes Matthew d'Ancona. To too many eyes, it looks like compromise.

2. Both the Tory and Labour leaders need lessons in political geometry (Observer)

As David Cameron and Ed Miliband move away from the centre, they leave a space for Nick Clegg, writes Andrew Rawnsley.

3. Tories need a leader now, Dave... not in a few weeks' time (Mail on Sunday)

Downing Street has been caught napping and David Cameron must lead on Europe, writes James Forsyth.

4. Lies, damned lies and Iain Duncan Smith (Observer)

The way the work and pensions secretary manipulates statistics is a shaming indictment of his department's failings, says Nick Cohen.

5. Tories must dump Clegg and get into bed with UKIP (Sun on Sunday)

Smart Conservative MPs should begin to sound out their local association and moot the possibility of joint Tory-UKIP candidates, says Nadine Dorries.

6. Europe again, and it was all going so well... (Independent on Sunday)

The next election may be a contest to see who is more determined to lose, writes John Rentoul.

7. Let's stop cringing and look America in the eye (Sunday Times)

Sucking up is embarrassing to all sides; what works is practical co-operation on matters of mutual interest, says Adam Boulton.

8. History is where the great battles of public life are now being fought (Observer)

From curriculum rows to Niall Ferguson's remarks on Keynes, our past is the fuel for debate about the future, writes Tristram Hunt.

9. We need to get going on jobs and growth (Independent on Sunday)

On the economy, the government has no answers and nothing to offer, argues Ed Balls.

10. We all lose when we separate our children at the school gate (Observer)

If more schools are converted to academies, state pupils will be better equipped to compete with their privileged peers, says Will Hutton.

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.