Labour warns leadership contenders to back up anti-abuse sentiment with action

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn who is being challenged by Owen Smith for his position.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn who is being challenged by Owen Smith for his position.
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Labour’s General Secretary has told Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith their condemnation of abuse must be backed up by action as new incident line is set up.

* Labour General Secretary tells members they must not intimidate each other during leadership contest.

* Anyone who engages in abuse, including affiliated supporters, will have their vote removed.

* Unusual move taken to suspend party meetings during the leadership election

* New hot-line email set up to report incidents.

Iain McNicol, General Secretary of the Labour Party, said that the contest between Mr Corbyn and Mr Smith should be “lively” with new ideas.

However in a tough-talking message to members he said people must be able to air their views in an atmosphere of respect.

He said: “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.”

Mr Corbyn is facing a leadership challenge after MPs staged a vote of no confidence in his abilities in June.

After initial challenger Angela Eagle dropped out of the race, Welsh MP and former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith will attempt to take over the party with members sent their ballot papers in August.

The result will be announced in September.

Over the past few weeks MPs have spoken frequently of online abuse and intimidation from members while Ms Eagle had a brick thrown through her constituency office window in Wallasey, Merseyside.

There is an expectation that friction between those backing Mr Corbyn and those who want Mr Smith to take over the party could escalate.

Mr McNichol added: “The two candidates Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith, our Deputy Leader Tom Watson and our National Executive Committee (NEC) have been very clear - there is no place for abuse of any kind in the party.

“However words of condemnation are meaningless unless they are backed up by action.”

The NEC has already suspended most Labour Party meetings while the leadership election takes place this summer and has said it aims to identify those responsible for “appalling behaviour”.

He said: “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.”

Details of any abusive behaviour can be reported by emailing validation@labour.org.uk.