Yesterday Theresa May gave a speech calling for more cross-party cooperation. You might have thought that one topic on which the Conservatives and Labour – indeed, everyone – can agree is that political parties and candidates should treat their opponents with respect.
There will be a debate on this in Westminster Hall later. It has been scheduled by the Conservative MP Simon Hart. But, as today’s Daily Mail splash reveals, Hart did not get the memo about cross-party harmony. He intends to accuse the left of sanctioning intimidation. He told the Mail:
DAILY MAIL: Exposed: Shocking scale of hard-left bullying #tomorrowspaperstoday pic.twitter.com/MKyBlSZy16
July 11, 2017 Neil Henderson
And Labour is not letting this go unchallenged. In a letter to Patrick McLoughlin, the Conservative party chairman, Ian Lavery, the Labour party chair, and Cat Smith, the shadow minister for voter engagement and women, accuse Conservative HQ of “propagating personal attacks, smears and untruths”, particularly aimed at Diane Abbott. Here’s an extract.
The Conservatives’ ran a negative, nasty campaign, propagating personal attacks, smears and untruths, particularly aimed at one of the most prominent women MPs, and indeed the first black woman MP, Diane Abbott.
Such attacks on politicians, the consequent intimidating and abusive language and threats of violence towards them online, deter many people from entering politics.
Parties and politicians have a responsibility to set an example, by treating others with dignity and respect, including those with whom we strongly disagree. The Conservative Party has instead promoted personal attacks as a core component of its national campaign.
Abuse against candidates on social media is completely unacceptable. The Conservative Party perpetrated this on an industrial scale by spending millions of pounds to post highly personalised and nasty attack adverts on voters’ Facebook timelines without their permission.
This is not an isolated incident. Last year Zac Goldsmith MP ran an extremely negative, divisive and racially discriminatory campaign against Sadiq Khan. It was described by Sayeeda Warsi, the former Conservative Party Co-Chairperson, as “appalling”.
I’ll be keeping an eye on the debate later, but it looks as though consensus is unlikely to break out.
Here is the agenda for the day.
9.30am: Justine Greening, the education secretary, gives a speech to the Sutton Trust.
9.30am: The Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Institute for Government hold a joint briefing on taxation and spending.
9.30am: Unemployment figures are published.
10am: MPs begin voting in the election for select committee chairs. Voting closes at 4pm, and the results will be announced later by the speaker.
Around 11am: Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, holds a press conference in Brussels.
12pm: Damian Green, the first secretary of state, takes prime minister’s questions. He is standing in for Theresa May, who is attending the ceremonial welcome for King Felipe VI of Spain at the start of his state visit. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, is standing in for Jeremy Corbyn.
12.30pm: MPs begin a debate on the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry.
4.15pm: The King of Spain gives an address to both Houses of Parliament.
4.30pm: MPs hold a debate in Westminster Hall on the abuse and intimidation of candidates during elections.
Also, the Lords EU committee is in Brussels today where it is meeting Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s lead Brexit negotiator.