News that Rosie Duffield will be missing the Labour Party conference over threats to her personal security brings to a head an appalling situation where a female Labour MP cannot stand up for the rights of women without triggering opprobrium. Keir Starmer cannot and must not sit on the fence any longer. Maybe he is trying to sit tight and hope that this goes away? This seems unlikely: Duffield’s opponents are motivated by an evangelistic zeal to silence those who dare to disagree with them.
Thankfully, Duffield isn’t taking the hint On Friday, she spoke more sense into the debate:
No doubt there will be yet more calls for the whip to be withdrawn from her. The bullying and harassment of Duffield has been ongoing since she expressed her view that ‘only women have a cervix’, and it has become a stain on the party. Let’s be clear, Duffield is neither homophobic nor transphobic; she just doesn’t believe that men can become women by signing a piece of paper.
As a trans person myself, I agree with her: men cannot become women under any circumstances, whatever the LGBTQIA+ lobby might have us all believe. Women are female, men are male, and sex in humans is immutable. Duffield is also correct to be concerned about the right of women to protect single-sex spaces based on biology. Make-believe is no substitute for reality.
Karl Marx knew that. He rejected the idealism of fellow German philosopher Georg Hegel; he also said, ‘social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.’ But shockingly, it seems that in today’s Labour party, the female sex cannot protest this new idealism.
Four thousand miles away in Kabul, women are being forced to stay home by a misogynist regime that has seized power in Afghanistan. No doubt this situation will be protested vociferously at the Labour party conference. But it will ring hollow if one of their own MPs – a woman whose harrowing account of domestic abuse shocked the House of Commons – finds herself staying home during the party conference.
Starmer has a little over two weeks to sort out this mess. The party claims that its Brighton shindig will be ‘a real opportunity to be a part of democracy in action.’ That will be open to interpretation if they cannot guarantee the safety of women accused of wrongthink by the transgender lobby.
Duffield might be the lightning rod, but the problem is much wider. The party has drifted far from the electorate they once took for granted. While self-identification of legal sex might excite young political activists within the party, the voters on the red wall have other concerns, not least jobs, health, education and public services. They also know the difference between men and women.
The people going after Duffield are certainly devoted to their own opinions, creeds and dogmas. Starmer needs to find his backbone and stand up to them before they consign the Labour party to the political wilderness for years to come.
Debbie Hayton is a teacher and journalist.
* This article was first published by The Spectator on 12 September 2021: Rosie Duffield’s treatment brings shame on the Labour party.