Paul Krugman: the most influential US columnist?

Where do Maureen Dowd, Malcolm Gladwell and Karl Rove rank?

Paul Krugman is the most influential columnist in the US. That's according to the website Mediaite, which ranks columnists according to their print circulation and their online presence.

The dominance of the Nobel Laureate and New York Times columnist, as well as the presence of Krugman's NYT colleague Maureen Dowd (4), Malcolm Gladwell (5) and Arianna Huffington (12) on the list, is likely to reinforce conservative fears of a liberal stranglehold on the media. But the appearance of Michelle Malkin at 2 and Karl Rove at 14 offers some consolation for the right.

Christopher Hitchens (6) is the highest-ranked British columnist on the list, though he became a US citizen in 2007.

Krugman's success will largely be viewed as a byproduct of the financial crisis but it also reflects his rare ability to twin an engaging prose style with consistent economic judgement. Ian McEwan once remarked of Will Hutton, "he breathes human sense back into economics". One could say the same of Krugman.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Labour to strip "abusive" registered supporters of their vote in the leadership contest

The party is asking members to report intimidating behaviour - but is vague about what this entails. 

Labour already considered blocking social media users who describe others as "scab" and "scum" from applying to vote. Now it is asking members to report abuse directly - and the punishment is equally harsh. 

Registered and affiliated supporters will lose their vote if found to be engaging in abusive behaviour, while full members could be suspended. 

Labour general secretary Iain McNicol said: “The Labour Party should be the home of lively debate, of new ideas and of campaigns to change society.

“However, for a fair debate to take place, people must be able to air their views in an atmosphere of respect. They shouldn’t be shouted down, they shouldn’t be intimidated and they shouldn’t be abused, either in meetings or online.

“Put plainly, there is simply too much of it taking place and it needs to stop."

Anyone who comes across abusive behaviour is being encouraged to email validation@labour.org.uk.

Since the bulk of Labour MPs decided to oppose Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, supporters of both camps have traded insults on social media and at constituency Labour party gatherings, leading the party to suspend most meetings until after the election. 

In a more ominous sign of intimidation, a brick was thrown through the window of Corbyn challenger Angela Eagle's constituency office. 

McNicol said condemning such "appalling" behaviour was meaningless unless backed up by action: “I want to be clear, if you are a member and you engage in abusive behaviour towards other members it will be investigated and you could be suspended while that investigation is carried out. 

“If you are a registered supporter or affiliated supporter and you engage in abusive behaviour you will not get a vote in this leadership election."

What does abusive behaviour actually mean?

The question many irate social media users will be asking is, what do you mean by abusive? 

A leaked report from Labour's National Executive Committee condemned the word "traitor" as well as "scum" and "scab". A Labour spokeswoman directed The Staggers to the Labour website's leadership election page, but this merely stated that "any racist, abusive or foul language or behaviour at meetings, on social media or in any other context" will be dealt with. 

But with emotions running high, and trust already so low between rival supporters, such vague language is going to provide little confidence in the election process.