Morning Call: pick of the comment

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

1. The worst thing about Ashcroft is that his behaviour is legal (Independent)

Johann Hari asks whether we are missing the bigger picture when it comes to Michael Ashcroft. His behaviour may be "revolting", but under Labour and Conservative governments alike his actions are perfectly legal.

2. The root of the Tories' dire Ashcroft gaffe is our medieval party funding (Guardian)

Warming to the same theme, Simon Jenkins notes that the Tory leadership was warned 1,000 times not to embrace the "Belize-based slot-machine millionaire" too close.

3. The special relationship is now starting to seem very one-sided (Telegraph)

Tony Blair may have promised to fight "shoulder to shoulder" with America post-9/11, writes Con Coughlin, but when it comes to the Falklands, Hillary Clinton's intervention shows the US will side with Argentina.

4. What would Foot have made of it now? (Independent)

Michael Foot, writes Matthew Norman, was the last great bridgehead to an age of political belief and principle. The politics of today -- as described by Andrew Rawnsley's latest book -- would have left him astounded by the "monumental tininess of the characters and their arguments".

5. The painful truth is that taxes must rise (Telegraph)

Andrew Haldenby, director of the think tank Reform, plays spoilsport; he shatters the dreams of Telegraph readers hoping for lower taxes and bigger monthly pay packets under Chancellor Osborne.

6. The base rate has never been so low for so long . . . (Daily Mail)

Alex Brummer asks why, despite another decision to hold the base rate at 0.5 per cent, the banks are allowed to charge borrowers such exorbitant rates.

7. Bob Geldof's a pain: but Live Aid changed everything (Times)

He may be a "smug, hairy git", writes Hugo Rifkind, but everybody must concede that what Bob Geldof did at Live Aid was "a good thing".

8. More than porn and housewives need debating (Guardian)

While it is well worth having an angry debate about the pornification of contemporary culture, it is notable that the male contribution is either limited or unrepresentative, writes Libby Brooks.

9. Unseen technology is shaping the UK poll (Financial Times)

Forget Twitter, urges James Crabtree. The coming election will be swung by far less glamorous technology: search engines, databases, email and, yes, the telephone.

10. Persecute me -- I'm after the Brownie points (Times)

Christians have always worked best as an unpopular minority. The comedian Frank Skinner, Roman Catholic and regular churchgoer, votes against the motion "England should be a Catholic country again".

Sign up now to CommentPlus for the pick of the day's opinion, comment and analysis in your inbox at 8am.

Show Hide image

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

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.