Labour agrees new rules to tackle online trolls

Posted On: 
21st September 2016

Labour has agreed tough new rules aimed at tackling online bullying and intimidation by party members.

The new Labour code of conduct will crack down on trolls
PA Images

Its ruling National Executive Committee last night approved a code of conduct to clamp down on "harassment, intimidation, hateful language and bullying".

In future, members will have to pledge "to act within the spirit and rules of the Labour party" while using social media and other public forums or face tough disciplinary action.

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The new rules will also target "the use of sexualised language or imagery and unwelcome sexual attention or advances" by Labour members.

Next week's Labour conference in Liverpool will formally approve the new measures, which were proposed by deputy leader Tom Watson.

They are being introduced following a wave of incidents in which senior Labour figures - particularly women - have been targeted by online trolls.

Mr Watson and former Labour minister Yvette Cooper, who is also chair of the Reclaim the Internet campaign, issued a joint statement welcoming the new rules.

They said: "This new pledge will mean every Labour member is making an active commitment to the values of decency and respect for others, both on and offline.

"We have a problem, we need to be clearer about our values and about the standards acceptable in the Labour party – and this is an important step in doing so.

"When you’re signing up to the aims and values of the Labour party, being against abuse and behaving in a comradely manner is implicit. But with what we have seen in recent months, we think this commitment should now be explicit.

"We have a responsibility in the Labour party to lead the way because we have always stood for something better. At a time when far right abuse is increasing, and online hatred, racism and misogyny is silencing people from speaking out, the Labour movement needs to stand up for people against intimidation and bullying just as we have always done throughout our history. But we can't do that if some in our own party get sucked in as well.

"We need to urgently restore decency to political debate – the lack of it threatens our democracy. Our members join the Labour party to stand up against injustice and abuse - this pledge makes clear that this is at the heart of all of our politics and our party debates too."

The changes were agreed as it emerged Labour MP Ruth Smeeth - who claims to have received 25,000 pieces of online abuse - revealed she is taking a minder to the Labour conference.

Another unnamed female Labour MP told The Sun: "Nobody is looking forward to going to Liverpool, it’s going to be totally horrendous. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if someone got hurt. I have never known the atmosphere to be this ugly."