The surfacing of a fundamental split inside the party

Jane Clare Jones has more on the Labour are they or aren’t they question.

I think we all have a right to be wondering what the hell is going on. As I tweeted earlier, from my perspective – and based on conversations with people who were involved in getting the pledge into the manifesto – what is going on is the surfacing of a fundamental split inside the party, which mirrors the basic division over the debate. That is, I believe that those who were instrumental in getting the pledge put into the manifesto did so with genuine intent, and that the TRA-faction lost the debate on this point at the ‘Clause V’ meeting when the manifesto was formulated (see here for info on Clause V). However, it is evident that not everyone in the party is on board with the results of that process, and have, effectively, decided to start legislating Labour party policy from the frontbench, in direct contravention of the party’s own internal democratic procedures. (Julie Bindel quotes several Labour Party insiders on this here). Given the utter contempt for due democratic process we have witnessed from TRAs and their allies over the years, I have to say I find this behaviour not even remotely surprising.

None of this tells us anything about how this will play out. I will say that I don’t think it’s the result of the Labour Party pulling some kind of deliberate bait and switch or making pronouncements to mollify us which they never intended to honour. Rather, as I said, I think it evidences the genuine divisions inside the party, and how completely impossible it is to get people dosed up to their eyeballs on the Kool-Aid to abide by any social or democratic conventions which don’t serve their ends. This may well not reassure anyone, and I think we are all wise to be sceptical here, especially given the contempt with which we have been treated by all major political parties on this question. Given what is happening now, people are right to question if the pledge made in the manifesto would have force were Labour to win the election, and to judge where to place their vote as their both their conscience and intuition dictates. They are also right to worry about how this would interact with the ongoing commitment to reforming the GRA. Even if the pledge in the manifesto stands, there would need to be a great deal of concerted work to ensure that the exemptions could be practicably enforced given how thoroughly Stonewall et al. have muddied the water by running all round the country disseminating legal bullshit.

Concise account of the worry: if people can “identify as” the other sex and thus legally be the other sex, how will women still be able to have single-sex changing rooms and toilets and the like? Reform of the GRA stands for identifying as being all it takes.

That all said, even with my most pessimistic hat on, I do think yesterday’s announcement is significant. Firstly because I think a Labour Party that is openly split on the issue is still a massive improvement on a Labour Party that is unthinkingly reciting TRA-dogma and straightforwardly colluding with the silencing of women’s legitimate concerns. This may not help us all make a decision with respect to this benighted election. But with respect to the long slow grind of this conflict, it is a move in the right direction. For those of us born and bred on the left, who have been putting sweat and soul into making the case for why the trans rights movement is neither progressive, nor good for women, it’s important that the debate is now squarely, and openly, situated inside the Labour Party. We’ve spent the last several years being called Nazis and fascists and segregationist bigots, enduring endless lectures from blue-haired anime avatars about how our position could only indicate a fundamental conservatism. That story no longer stands up. The left is divided on this question. Just as we have always maintained.

The second thing is even more significant. All that the Labour Party did yesterday was reaffirm its commitment to upholding our existing rights as given in law. And the consequence of a political party affirming its commitment to our existing rights in law is an enormous amount of screaming, obfuscation and witch-burning bullshit. What this demonstrates decisively – what this clearly unconceals – is that the objectives of the present form of the trans rights movement is the removal of our existing legal rights.

Why yes, so it does.

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