Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Osborne has been disproved on austerity (Financial Times)

Nobody thought a recovery would never happen – merely that it would be delayed, says Martin Wolf.

2. Ed Miliband is no more 'red' than the Tony Blair that won the 1997 general election (Independent)

The Labour leader’s temporary freeze on energy bills is a fair and moderate step, says Andrew Adonis.

3. The scale of Ed’s ambition is both breathtaking and terrifying (Daily Telegraph)

The Labour leader’s socialist ideas on energy prices and housing shortages are radical, coherent and – worst of all – popular, says Fraser Nelson. 

4. David Cameron's least favourite question: whose side are you on? (Guardian)

There is no vacancy in the fabled centre ground, writes Polly Toynbee. Labour occupies it, and voters may no longer be fooled by red scaremongering.

5. Good news – foreigners are buying up Britain (Daily Telegraph)

The present phase of globalisation is painful for the west, but we should see it through, writes Jeremy Warner.

6. Ed can win from here. But he can’t govern (Times)

At last Miliband has defined what he stands for — it is not challenging his party’s comfort zone, says Philip Collins.

7. Only talks can reset Iran’s atomic clock (Financial Times)

The US must take risks or accept a stand-off, with Iran trundling further towards the bomb, writes Philip Stephens.

8. Beyond Europe (Times)

Senior Tories need to talk more about bread and butter issues like housing and pay, says a Times editorial.

9. 'Mental patient' fancy dress shows how deep offensive stereotypes go in society (Guardian)

Tesco and Asda have done the decent thing, says Alastair Campbell. But we must work to end the stigma about mental health in work, communities, friends – even the NHS.

Where are the  Islamic voices raised in protest at the abuse of the system, asks Peter Popham. 

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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.