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.
I grew up in 1980s County Durham; it felt at the time like a People’s Democratic Republic. When the miners went on strike in 1984, Labour held 53 of the 72 seats on the county council. But whatever impression southerners might get from watching Billy Elliot, boys like me did not engage in ballet. Labour may have been in charge, but attitudes were socially conservative. We played football and supported the Toon, or Newcastle United to give them their official name. Allegiance to Sunderland raised eyebrows — in my town at least — while Manchester United was beyond the pale.
LGBT+ Labour might be a fringe group in the minds of traditional Labour voters but they have the power to extract a grovelling apology from Keir Starmer.