Ed Miliband looks around a newly-built council housing complex in Lincoln. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Why Labour isn't going to promise a million new homes

The party says the existing target of 200,000 a year by 2020 is "ambitious but realistic".

Labour has long made it clear that a large housebuilding programme will be at the centre of its programme for government, with Ed Miliband promising 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 in his conference speech last year. But some regard this target as inadequate, arguing instead for a pledge to build a million new homes over the course of the next parliament. Ahead of this autumn's conference, and the completion of the party's housing review, led by Michael Lyons, there has been speculation that this will be the final manifesto promise. 

But a Labour housing source confirmed to me today that this wasn't the case. "There have been a lot of promises made on housebuilding in the past and those haven't been met. Our target of 200,000 by 2020 is ambitious but realistic," he said. "The last time we built 200,000 homes in England was the 1980s. History shows that after every crash and recession the recovery in housebuilding takes longer and the average that you get back to is then lower." 

The government currently forecasts a fall in the number of houses started this year from 133,650 to 128,000, and Labour reasonably argues that it won't be possible to get construction up to 200,000 in the first year of the next parliament (the rate required to achieve a million by 2020). "200,000 by 2020 is ambitious and it will require fundamental change to get there," the source said.

Shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds will shortly have more to say on how the party plans to increase construction by small firms and by self-builders. The Lyons review is also examining whether to lift the cap on some councils' borrowing, although a source emphasised to me that this wasn't a "silver bullet". Outside of London, there are few councils anywhere near their loan limit. 

But while 200,000 a year by 2020 will remain the target, Labour regards this as "a plot on a journey upwards". The ambition is to deliver a "sustained increase in housebuilding" of which 200,000 is the start, not the end. 

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.