Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The debt-ceiling doomsday device (Financial Times)

The ceiling is so dangerous because Obama could not obey it in a non-destructive way, writes Martin Wolf.

2. Britain doesn’t just need new homes, it needs whole new towns (Daily Telegraph)

Whoever looks like solving the housing crisis will probably win the next election, says Mary Riddell.

3. 'Plebgate’ threatens the reputation of the police (Daily Telegraph)

Andrew Mitchell's case must be reopened, says a Telegraph editorial.

4. Is Cameron insane? Leave foxhunting alone (Times)

The Tories should focus on the real challenges facing the countryside, including deep rural poverty, writes Alice Thomson.

5. An early EU referendum is so tempting – but Miliband must not be moved (Guardian)

Europe now poses a major dilemma for the Labour leader, writes Jackie Ashley. But to promise a referendum would result in a post-election defeat for him, and a UK exit.

6. Give a warm welcome to China, our new best friend (Independent)

The US dominance of the past century will soon be coming to an end, writes Hamish McRae.

7. Americans need to discover how the world sees them (Guardian)

There's little awareness of how the budget crisis has eroded US credibility, writes Timothy Garton Ash. It's time for a reverse Christopher Columbus.

8. Never empower people who hate freedom (Times)

Restrictions on free speech nearly always spread, becoming tools of the intolerant and the illiberal, says Daniel Finkelstein. 

9. Politics and security: a pressing need for action (Guardian)

The security services enjoy a degree of autonomy that exceeds what many MPs and ministers would judge appropriate, says a Guardian editorial.

10. Our leaders have always misled us about the EU (Independent)

Governments were intent on shielding voters from understanding how much sovereignty we had lost, writes Andreas Whittam Smith. 

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.