CommentPlus: pick of the papers

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

1. Labour has forgotten how to box clever on "tax and spend" (Independent)

Labour failed to make the political and economic case for a rise in National Insurance, writes Steve Richards, allowing the Tories to get away with contradictory proposals. The party now finds itself on the back foot on tax and spend for the first time since 1992.

Read the full CommentPlus summary.

2. No, Gordon Brown, we have not been deceived (Times)

Elsewhere, Simon Wolfson, chief executive of Next, attacks Brown's claim that business leaders have been deceived by the Tories. Everyone knows there are huge savings to be made in the public sector.

3. The Tories can't muzzle election talk of Europe (Guardian)

The Tories' hostility to the European Union will return to haunt them, predicts Timothy Garton Ash. Britain's European partners are in no mood to renegotiate anything, let alone do any favours to a new Conservative government.

Read the full CommentPlus summary.

4. Look beyond the spin to find candidates with character (Daily Telegraph)

A large number of authentic and independent-minded candidates has emerged in this election campaign, writes Benedict Brogan. Nigel Farage in Buckingham, Caroline Lucas in Brighton and Esther Rantzen in Luton are all evidence of a sea change.

Read the full CommentPlus summary.

5. The iPad's scary counter-revolution (Financial Times)

The iPad may generally be good news for publishers but there's a catch, warns John Gapper: only those with the ability to create original multimedia content will thrive on this platform.

6. Dave may be popular, but there's danger in the Tories becoming a one-man band (Daily Mail)

Given that he does not have the extraordinary appeal of a Tony Blair, David Cameron must present himself as part of a team, writes Stephen Glover. The Tories have several big hitters who can give a good account of themselves.

7. The real political battle will begin after the election (Guardian)

Even more important than who wins the election will be the struggle over what to put in place of a failed neoliberal model, argues Seumas Milne.

8. Nobody will use the "D" word (Independent)

Britain's £167bn Budget deficit has been written out of the script as politicians replace hard choices with soft options, writes Andrew Grice.

9. Progress and democracy collide in India (Financial Times)

India must work out how to reconcile development with indigenous land rights, writes David Pilling.

Read the full CommentPlus summary.

10. The Tories' policies on economic change fall short of the rhetoric (Daily Telegraph)

The Conservatives are so scared of overturning the status quo that they will not adopt desperately needed financial reforms, says Edmund Conway.

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Labour is a pioneer in fighting sexism. That doesn't mean there's no sexism in Labour

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

I’m in the Labour party to fight for equality. I cheered when Labour announced that one of its three Budget tests was ensuring the burden of cuts didn’t fall on women. I celebrated the party’s record of winning rights for women on International Women’s Day. And I marched with Labour women to end male violence against women and girls.

I’m proud of the work we’re doing for women across the country. But, as the Labour party fights for me to feel safer in society, I still feel unsafe in the Labour party.

These problems are not unique to the Labour party; misogyny is everywhere in politics. You just have to look on Twitter to see women MPs – and any woman who speaks out – receiving rape and death threats. Women at political events are subject to threatening behaviour and sexual harassment. Sexism and violence against women at its heart is about power and control. And, as we all know, nowhere is power more highly-prized and sought-after than in politics.

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

The House of Commons’ women and equalities committee recently stated that political parties should have robust procedures in place to prevent intimidation, bullying or sexual harassment. The committee looked at this thanks to the work of Gavin Shuker, who has helped in taking up this issue since we first started highlighting it. Labour should follow this advice, put its values into action and change its structures and culture if we are to make our party safe for women.

We need thorough and enforced codes of conduct: online, offline and at all levels of the party, from branches to the parliamentary Labour party. These should be made clear to everyone upon joining, include reminders at the start of meetings and be up in every campaign office in the country.

Too many members – particularly new and young members – say they don’t know how to report incidents or what will happen if they do. This information should be given to all members, made easily available on the website and circulated to all local parties.

Too many people – including MPs and local party leaders – still say they wouldn’t know what to do if a local member told them they had been sexually harassed. All staff members and people in positions of responsibility should be given training, so they can support members and feel comfortable responding to issues.

Having a third party organisation or individual to deal with complaints of this nature would be a huge help too. Their contact details should be easy to find on the website. This organisation should, crucially, be independent of influence from elsewhere in the party. This would allow them to perform their role without political pressures or bias. We need a system that gives members confidence that they will be treated fairly, not one where members are worried about reporting incidents because the man in question holds power, has certain political allies or is a friend or colleague of the person you are supposed to complain to.

Giving this third party the resources and access they need to identify issues within our party and recommend further changes to the NEC would help to begin a continuous process of improving both our structures and culture.

Labour should champion a more open culture, where people feel able to report incidents and don't have to worry about ruining their career or facing political repercussions if they do so. Problems should not be brushed under the carpet. It takes bravery to admit your faults. But, until these problems are faced head-on, they will not go away.

Being the party of equality does not mean Labour is immune to misogyny and sexual harassment, but it does mean it should lead the way on tackling it.

Now is the time for Labour to practice what it preaches and prove it is serious about women’s equality.

Bex Bailey was on Labour’s national executive committee from 2014 to 2016.