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Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Homes, health and fairer taxes could put Ed in No 10 (Daily Telegraph)

With the 2015 general election exactly a year away, voters deserve to hear the truth on Labour’s big ideas, writes Mary Riddell. 

2. Small is beautiful. The NHS needs to be broken up (Guardian)

Our once-revered health service is now a national scandal, says Simon Jenkins. After so many failed reforms, it's clear that central control no longer works.

3. My contender for the stupid socialist award (Times)

If Thomas Piketty thinks that today’s capitalism has failed, he needs to explain what he is going to replace it with, says Daniel Finkelstein. 

4. Look who's not voting Tory (Daily Telegraph)

Ethnic minorities are backing Labour in droves, writes Daniel Hannan. But one country has bucked the western trend for immigrants to support centre-left parties.

5. Can South Africa's revolution move beyond the ANC? (Guardian)

South Africa has done many things right, but its post-apartheid politicians still need to develop a truly pluralist system, says Mary Dejevsky. 

6. The stats and the markets concur: Europe is no longer an economic basket case (Independent)

Next year, if forecasts prove right, no European country will see its economy decline, writes Hamish McRae.

7.  A game for children to build on dreams (Financial Times)

‘Minecraft’, like Lego, helps turn imagination into reality, writes Helen Lewis.

8. The new Mussolini and his axis of the macho (Times)

Europe’s nationalists see Putin as an ally, writes Roger Boyes. But, as Ukraine shows, he has no respect for borders.

9. Wipe out rentiers with cheap money (Financial Times)

Cautious savers no longer serve a useful economic purpose, says Martin Wolf. 

10. Zero-hours jobseekers? Britain's given up on employee rights (Guardian)

We have developed a system where poverty can be actively enforced by brutal employers on their powerless staff, writes Zoe Williams.

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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.