William Hallowell: Labour have chosen the wrong side of the trans debate

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There has been huge controversy surrounding Labour MP Rosie Duffield and the transgender debate. Photo: ScreenGrab from Parliament TV.

By William Hallowell.

Starmer and his colleagues won’t charm the public by adopting progressivist policies, or by insulting those who defend women’s rights. By siding with a minority they have alienated the majority.

In the lead up to the Labour Party conference this year, there was (and still is) huge controversy surrounding Rosie Duffield and the transgender debate, to point that she took the decision not to attend as a result of the enormous amount of threats and abuse she received for holding what are perfectly reasonable views (if you’re a normal person and not left-wing, “progressive” extremist).

Needless to say, the treatment of the Labour MP has been absolutely appalling and totally unwarranted – let alone the fact that it sets a bad precedent for political discourse and standards for free speech in Britain.

What is even more appalling, however, is not just the fact that she received abuse for ‘liking’ a Piers Morgan tweet that suggested that only women have cervixes, or that she referred to transgender women as being “biological men”, but essentially that she has been shut out in the cold by the party leadership.

Though she has received some support from female Labour members at the conference, such as those who approached Jess Phillips over the issue, it seems no Labour politician has had the guts to stand up for Duffield, for fear of receiving the same treatment by the cancel culture extremists.

In spite of this, however, the case of Rosie Duffield has seen the most magnificent display of cross-party support from Government ministers.

But this whole affair puts Keir Starmer to shame, frankly.

Instead of doing what he should have done – come in support of Duffield – he has selfishly abandoned her at the hands of the witch-hunt, because he believes it will benefit his cause and political career far more to oppose her views on the issue, than to back his colleague.

The one thing Starmer had to do by the end of this conference if not achieve party unity – which is apparently less important than “winning” the next election – is choose an ideological fight for the Labour Party: class politics or identity politics. He thought he could be the William Stanley of Labour’s ideological conflict, but has unfortunately chosen the side which will lose the war and that will keep him out of government. Instead of choosing workers’ politics, he has chosen woke identity politics.

In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, in which Marr brought up the case of Rosie Duffield, Sir Keir Starmer said that it’s “not right” to say that only women have cervixes.

Why? Well it’s either delusion, or an attempt to appease the woke faction’s takeover of the Labour Party – a takeover that will not benefit the party at the ballot box. His abandonment of the truth first and his colleague second is shameful, and in submitting to a cause because he believes it will advance his own interests is not a demonstration of strong leadership. It is epitomic of weak and indecisive leadership – but then again, that’s been Starmer’s brand of leadership since his election; “anywhere the wind blows”, is the phrase that comes to mind.

As for Starmer’s colleagues, they have been no better. Whether it is out of the same spineless fear of the same treatment as Rosie Duffield, or because they too believe it will be beneficial for their political careers – I suspect it is a bit of both – it is does not depict a party ready for power. The Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy referred to those who sit on the same side of the fence as Duffield as “dinosaurs” who want to “hoard rights”. This is a huge problem, and it is dangerous too.

In an ever more progressive West, inevitably societies would have to be increasingly accommodating to the fairly new social construct of being transgender: the concept of a person identifying with the opposite sex to which they were born.

However, whatever the outcomes of this debate that occur in order to be more accommodating to transgender people, biological men should not threaten the rights and opportunities of, and safe spaces for, biological women – regardless of their gender identity; that is to say that the rights of transgender women (biological men) should not supersede or impede the rights of biological women. Because whilst being transgender is objectively a social construct, biology is not, and therefore being transgender should not be seen as being of higher importance.

David Lammy’s words will ultimately disenfranchise and alienate women because they demonise those who are concerned for their rights, and because his words place transgender people above those who’s gender identity matches their sex. If he one day wants to be the Justice Secretary, it would serve him well to stand up for women’s rights as a former barrister, rather than demonising those who want to protect their rights – and the same can be said for Keir Starmer and other likeminded colleagues too.

The Labour leadership has chosen the wrong side of the debate, and it has made an irreversible ideological standpoint.

Starmer’s Labour can no longer be presented as the party of common sense, or of truth, but of weak leadership and fanatical fantasy. The future looks dangerous and dystopic for women under the concept of a Starmer government.

For more from William Hallowell please follow him on Twitter.

© 2021 William Hallwell

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