Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Think brain scans can reveal our innermost thoughts? Think again (Guardian)

Increasing claims for neuroscience – that it can locate jealousy or Muslim fundamentalism – are ludicrous, writes Raymond Tallis

2. Britain can no longer afford to bankroll the rich  (Guardian)

Not only is the ever-growing wealth of the super-rich not trickling down, it is creating ever-growing instability in a future not worth having, writes Nick Cohen

3. Will we ever really know why people turn to terrorism? (Guardian)

We need to ask what leads a person to rationalise an act of murder and see themselves as above the law, writes Peter Beaumont

4. Hate mustn’t be made a thought crime – only acting on it is (Telegraph)

Words must be regarded differently in law from acts. It distinguishes a free nation from a totalitarian one, writes Janet Daley

5. Patrick Mercer: A rogue operator, or a return to the days of Tory sleaze? (Telegraph)

For the Prime Minister’s allies, Patrick Mercer’s disgrace is positively karmic, says Matthew d’Ancona

6. Cuts, BBC? What cuts?   (Telegraph)

What neither the Chancellor nor the BBC want to admit is that public spending is still racing upwards, says Christopher Booker

7. France is marching against markets   (FT)

Gay marriage is the cherished priority of an elite-driven political system, writes Christopher Caldwell

8. Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah leader (FT)

The militia chief’s backing for the Assad regime could ignite a bigger conflict, says David Gardner

9. China, Baby 59, and national self-deception (Independent)

The mother deserves sympathy, the state scrutiny, writes Memphis Barker

10. Sorry James Salter, if a book's any good, the best lines will linger (Independent)

And you can quote me on that, writes Tom Sutcliffe

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.