Our planet is in a mess. Ice caps are melting and the glaciers are retreating. This summer in Canada, the mercury has already broken through 49 degrees Celsius, with August still ahead of us. Climate change worries me, and I think it should worry others too. But despite the party’s name, the Green party isn’t devoting its full attention to this issue. Instead, some of its members are preoccupied with rooting out alleged transphobia within the party.
This week, co-leader Sian Berry announced that she was standing down over ‘inconsistencies’ within the party. Her statement didn’t name names, and was probably baffling to the ordinary voter, but the cause of her discomfort was easy to read between the lines.
Former Green party deputy leader Shahrar Ali posed a question last summer which most people would think to be fairly inane. ‘What is a woman?’, he asked. But his response – that ‘a woman is commonly defined as an adult human female and, genetically, typified by two XX chromosomes’ – sparked uproar within a party that is tearing itself to bits in its doomed attempt to appease the trans lobby.
Ali’s elevation in recent weeks to become the Green party’s spokesperson for policing and domestic safety should have been something to celebrate. He was the first ethnic minority deputy leader of a mainstream political party in the UK and he is a strong voice in speaking up for the environment. Instead, his promotion has reignited a row about gender – and appears to have triggered Berry’s decision to walk away.
‘There is now an inconsistency between the sincere promise to fight for trans rights and inclusion in my work and the message sent by the party’s choice of front bench representatives,’ she wrote in a letter announcing her decision to step down.
But since when were the facts of life – chromosomes and biology and other inconvenient truths – incompatible with trans rights?
The totalitarian nature of transgender ideology, it would seem, allows no dissent from the orthodoxy. Berry seems to have been hopelessly captured by it. In her statement she added,
‘This inconsistency has left me in a very difficult position. I can no longer make the claim that the party speaks unequivocally, with one voice, on this issue. And my conscience simply cannot agree with the argument that there is anything positive in sending these mixed messages, especially when the inclusive attitudes of our membership and wider society are clear.’Sian Berry
Members of political parties can, and do, disagree on almost anything. But not in the Greens when transgender policy is on the table.
Now, though, there is a glimmer of hope: could Berry’s departure allow the party to focus on the environment, rather than trans rights, for once?
Back in March, the thought police pointed the finger at Emma Bateman, co-chair of the Green party’s women’s committee, after she had queried whether transwomen are female. We aren’t female – everyone knows that, surely – but Bateman was nevertheless suspended from the party.
From the naughty step, Bateman told The Spectator that:
‘Dogmatically embracing self ID and imagining that the party speaks unequivocally with one voice on this issue, as Sian (Berry) has done for the past five years illustrates that she has been deaf to the dissent, the questions, and the possibility of nuance that is sorely needed in the balancing of trans rights and women’s rights.’Emma Bateman
Bateman is right. Let’s hope that the Green party realises that before it is too late.
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.
* This article was first published by The Spectator on 15 July 2021: Does the Green party care more about trans rights than the environment?.