Laurie Penny wins Editorial Intelligence "Twitter Public Personality" award

A statement in absentia.

I'm really sorry I couldn't be there in person to accept this award, and I'd like to thank everyone who voted for me, as well as Editorial Intelligence for nominating me. Social media has been an energising and empowering force for the British commentariat, rearranging some of the old hierarchies and allowing young people and those outside the mainstream press to amplify voices that would otherwise go unheard.

Unfortunately, over the past two years social media has also become an increasingly hostile place for women writers and journalists, as well as for writers of thinkers of colour and of different faiths. I know of a number of talented women writers who have withdrawn from the arena of public debate in Britain because of the sheer scale and viciousness of sexist bullying that has come to poison the arena of political debate in this country, particularly online.

I would like to use this opportunity to call upon all of the editors, journalists and commentators in this room to take an active stand against sexist trolling and hate speech in your publications and on Twitter. Call it out whenever you see it and refuse to host it on your websites, because it demeans and cheapens all of us who feel proud to call ourselves members of the British press. Thank you.

Laurie Penny is a contributing editor to the New Statesman. She is the author of five books, most recently Unspeakable Things .

David Cameron addresses pupils at an assembly during a visit to Corby Technical School on September 2, 2015. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Can Cameron maintain his refugee stance as he comes under attack from all sides?

Tory MPs, the Sun, Labour and a growing section of the public are calling on the PM to end his refusal to take "more and more". 

The disparity between the traumatic images of drowned Syrian children and David Cameron's compassionless response ("I don't think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees") has triggered a political backlash. A petition calling for greater action (the UK has to date accepted around 5,000) has passed the 100,000 threshold required for the government to consider a debate after tens of thousands signed this morning. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has tweeted: "This is not an immigration issue, it's a humanitarian one, and the human response must be to help. If we don't, what does that make us?" Tory MPs such as Nicola Blackwood, David Burrowes, Jeremy Lefroy and Johnny Mercer have similarly appealed to Cameron to reverse his stance.

Today's Sun declares that the UK has "a proud record of taking in desperate people and we should not flinch from it now if it is beyond doubt that they have fled for their lives." Meanwhile, the Washington Post has published a derisive piece headlined "Britain takes in so few refugees from Syria they would fit on a subway train". Labour has called on Cameron to convene a meeting of Cobra to discuss the crisis and to request an emergency EU summit. Yvette Cooper, who led the way with a speech on Monday outlining how the UK could accept 10,000 refugees, is organising a meeting of councils, charities and faith groups to discuss Britain's response. Public opinion, which can turn remarkably quickly in response to harrowing images, is likely to have grown more sympathetic to the Syrians' plight. Indeed, a survey in March found that those who supported accepting refugees fleeing persecution outnumbered opponents by 47-24 per cent. 

The political question is whether this cumulative pressure will force Cameron to change his stance. He may not agree to match Cooper's demand of 10,000 (though Germany is poised to accept 800,000) but an increasing number at Westminster believe that he cannot remain impassive. Surely Cameron, who will not stand for election again, will not want this stain on his premiership? The UK's obstinacy is further antagonising Angela Merkel on whom his hopes of a successful EU renegotiation rest. If nothing else, Cameron should remember one of the laws of politics: the earlier a climbdown, the less painful it is. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.