The government has announced a review into the abuse of MPs, activists and voters during the last general election.
Theresa May has asked the Committee on Standards in Public Life to investigate widespread reports from candidates that they were victims of racist graffiti, death threats and abuse on social media during the campaign.
The prime minister said she was “horrified” by the stories she had heard from MPs since the election.
The committee, chaired by Lord Bew, has been tasked with producing a report for May on what action needs to be taken.
It comes as MPs debated the issue in parliament’s Westminster Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
Simon Hart, the Tory MP leading the debate, told HuffPost UK the “majority” of the “thuggishness” and abuse was committed by left-wing activists.
Labour immediately hit back, expressing “deep dismay and concern at the vitriolic personal attacks” carried out and financed by the Conservative Party.
The row between Labour and the Conservatives ahead of the debate may have scuppered chances of an early cross-party agreement on how to tackle abuse.
Announcing the review, May said “robust debate is a vital part of our democracy” but added “there can be no place for the shocking threats and abuse we have seen in recent months”.
“I have been horrified by stories from colleagues about the scale and nature of the intimidation, bullying and harassment they suffered during the general election campaign,” she said.
“We must all work together to banish this behaviour, and I would urge MPs and candidates from all parties to report their experiences to this review so we get the fullest possible picture – and can take the action required to stamp it out.”
This morning, Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery and shadow voter engagement minister Cat Smith wrote to the Conservative Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin to complain about the actions of his party.
“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,” they said.
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.
They added: “It is important that Parliament discuss unacceptable behaviour towards candidates from all parties, disproportionately faced by women candidates and candidates from ethnic minority backgrounds. But the Conservative Party must also take responsibility for the attacks financed and conducted as part of their national campaign.”
Lavery and Smith also said the use of “racist” language by MP Anne Marie Morris, as revealed by HuffPost UK, was “evidence of the level to which abusive and discriminatory language has been tolerated by the Conservative Party”.