Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. The Tory party's gone crazy over Europe, and it's Cameron's fault (Daily Telegraph)

Some may see a clever new strategy, but the simple truth is that No 10 has lost control, writes Benedict Brogan. 

2. The noise on immigration is drowning out real problems (Guardian)

Desperate to sound tough, politicians are in fact making it harder to improve the plight of domestic slaves in Britain, says Polly Toynbee.

3. Britons are lazy? Don’t let Boris get away with that (Independent)

It's not 'sloth' that ruined this country's economy, whatever Boris Johnson may say, but it is another of the Seven Deadly Sins, writes Owen Jones. So let’s aim fire at greed.

4. The Tories have become ungovernable (Financial Times)

Drama is giving way to farce, writes Janan Ganesh. The eurosceptic demands are now plain odd.

5. We need to frack, but we need wind power too (Times)

Environmentalists and climate-change doubters must both get real about our energy needs, says Will Straw.

6. Obama is right to stay out of Syria (Financial Times)

The president is taking a position – and it is not the easy option, says Gideon Rachman.

7. Two parties both riven by the same old splits (Times)

The Tories are being sucked into the whirlpool of Europe, but Labour’s division on the economy runs just as deep, writes Rachel Sylvester.

8. You can’t blame Brussels for Britain’s debts (Daily Telegraph)

Our liabilities are now the highest in Europe - and that's just the start of our problems, says Dominic Raab. 

9. This is one EU crisis that need not exist (Daily Mail)

David Cameron is making unnecessary trouble for himself by appearing to pick fights with his party, where no serious disagreement exists, says a Daily Mail editorial.

10. Oxford University won't take funding from tobacco companies. But Shell's OK (Guardian)

If scholars are prepared to take an ethical stance against money from tobacco companies, why won't they against Big Oil too, asks George Monbiot.

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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.