Dear Prime Minister,
In July 2014 I gave a second chance to former candidate Mark Clarke. Having been removed from the candidates list following the 2010 election, Clarke had gone on to establish a campaigning organisation called RoadTrip2015. He presented himself as having learned from his past experience, being more mature and wanting to prove himself again. After some discussion, I appointed him in order to incorporate RoadTrip into our wider campaign. The aim being to better coordinate his activity with our rapidly expanding Team2015 target-seat operation.
During this summer and autumn, there have been widely reported, very serious allegations made about the conduct of this former activist, who has subsequently been expelled from the Party. I appreciate that there are ongoing coroner and Party investigations underway, yet whatever the outcome of these processes, I doubt any of this will bring much comfort to the Johnson family whose loss is simply unimaginable.
Although neither the Party nor I can find any record of written allegations of bullying, sexual abuse or blackmail made to the Chairman’s office prior to the election, I cannot help but feel that the steady stream of those who raised smaller, more nuanced, objections should have perhaps set alarm bells ringing sooner. In the end, I signed that letter appointing Mark Clarke ‘Director of RoadTrip and I firmly believe that whatever the rights and wrongs of a serious case like this, responsibility should rest somewhere.
Over the past few weeks — as individual allegations have come to light — I have come to the conclusion that the buck should stop with me. Given the very serious nature of what has subsequently occurred and my role in appointing Mr Clarke, I cannot help but conclude that the only right course of action is for me to step down as a Minister in your government.
It has been an enormous honour to serve in your government which is making tremendous progress in taking Britain forward. You will have my full support from the backbenches, where I will also continue to work for my Welwyn Hatfield constituents who have elected me to serve.
But more than anything, I am deeply shocked and saddened by the recent death of Elliott Johnson and my thoughts are with his friends and family.
The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP
Grant Shapps resigns for not acting on bullying claims that CCHQ say they never received…
UPDATE: Shapps is replaced at DFID by former minister Nick Hurd.
The BBC and Sky report that Grant Shapps has quit over the Mark Clarke scandal. Yesterday Elliott Johnson’s father Ray called on both Shapps and Tory chairman Lord Feldman to resign. Statement expected this afternoon…
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You’re either in front of Guido, or behind…
Tory MP and former Colonel Bob Stewart referred to ISIS as “these bastards” on ITV this morning. Col Bob’s nonplussed look as Eamonn apologises for the profanity is a particular highlight…
The auction for a pair of Jeremy Corbyn’s shines shoes has reached a staggering £230. The Labour leader’s knackered size 11s are being sold on eBay to raise money for the Small Steps Project, a charity that helps children living in landfill sites. A noble cause indeed, although Guido can’t imagine who would want to be in Corbyn’s shoes right now…
Jez isn’t the only Labour leader to donate their old footwear to the charity however, with Ed Miliband kindly giving up a pair of his rather more upmarket Black Oxfords. Sadly, they’re generating rather less interest, and at the time of writing they’ve only managed to fetch £31. Where are the Milifans when you need them?
Corbyn aide Andrew Fisher, the crackpot who wrote abusive tweets about Labour MPs and backed a rival party, has been let off with a warning by the party’s NEC and had his suspension lifted, reports PA. Worth noting that Corbyn supporters have a majority on the NEC. Are Danczuk, Reeves, Flint et al going to take that?
UPDATE: Damning statement from Caroline Flint and Siobhan McDonagh:
“We are disappointed that the Labour Party has decided not to proceed with a full disciplinary inquiry by the NCC into Andrew Fisher, and instead issue a slap on the wrist. The Chair of this investigation has been subjected to huge pressure, and this has compromised the independence and integrity of Labour’s disciplinary process. It is unacceptable for members to support other parties, delight in Labour MPs losing their seats or to engage in cyber-bullying. Others have been excluded from our party for less than the activities of Mr Fisher. It would appear that there is one rule for members and one rule for those who work for the Party Leader.”
Guido is very alarmed that senior Labour MPs are now openly calling for Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation, including ex-minister John Spellar. Speaking to Radio 5 Live about the cabinet ministers who support Syrian intervention, Spellar said “they should not resign…if anyone should resign after this incident it should be Jeremy Corbyn.” Spellar isn’t the only one baying for Corbyn’s blood however, another ex-minister Fiona Mactaggart told BBC Radio Berkshire that Corbyn’s leadership was “weak” and “unsustainable”. When asked whether Jeremy Corbyn should quit she replied:
“I think that would be a sensible strategy because I think that the division at the moment is causing real problems.”
It is in the light of such treacherous disunity that Guido is calling on comrades in Momentum and elsewhere to ensure that Jeremy Corbyn retains his rightful place as leader of the opposition. Isn’t that what socialism’s all about? The only time we want to hear someone tell Corbyn to “go” is if it’s sung in Spanish to the tune of the the Gypsy Kings’ “Bambeleo”…
Ken Livingstone extraordinarily claimed last night that the July 7th terrorists sacrificed themselves in a protest against British foreign policy. Speaking on Question Time he said:
“Go and look at what they put on their website. They did those