Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. China has thrown down a gauntlet (Financial Times)

Beijing has turned control of the air space around the Senkaku Islands into a test of the US, writes Philip Stephens. 

2. Misery looms for the 'have-it-all' generation (Daily Telegraph)

As the baby boomers approach retirement, many face a retirement crisis, thanks to QE, writes Jeremy Warner.

3. Energy's big six: the more we learn, the worse they look (Guardian)

Cutting the 'green crap' from energy bills is a damaging electoral sweetener – the signs are voters will not be fooled, says Polly Toynbee.

4. The case for the Union is still strong – so why does the government not make it? (Daily Telegraph)

Alex Salmond and the SNP are being given a free hand to blame London for their own mistakes, says Fraser Nelson. 

5. Tories and the cult of home ownership (Financial Times)

Promoting house-buying is a form of stimulus that does not overtly add to the fiscal deficit, writes Samuel Brittan. 

6. There is no link between porn and sex crime (Times)

Rape and violence are about power and the male nature, writes Philip Collins. Moral panic about legal images is pointless.

7. The U-turning Tories are making their lack of conviction obvious (Daily Telegraph)

Not knowing what they believe makes for messy messaging for the Tories, says Isabel Hardman. 

8. Leveson: Britain's press needs to learn humility – I should know (Guardian)

As a former Sun editor, I know newspapers are dictatorships, says David Yelland. Their hysterical reaction to Leveson proves it.

9. If I were young and Scottish, I would vote yes to independence (Independent)

The country is certainly strong enough to stand on its own, writes Mary Dejevsky. 

10. Why the assault on cigarette packets? They already look like props in a horror movie (Guardian)

I hate smoking, writes Simon Jenkins. But I also hate being told by the government how to look after my body. Cameron should leave smokers.

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.