Fear and loathing

MPs are afraid to talk about it at all.

In the privacy of a committee room on the parliamentary estate, Labour MPs gather for “top-secret” meetings to discuss the erosion of sex-based rights — and their numbers are growing.

They are part of a cross-party group of “gender-critical” MPs and peers often too frightened to express their views on trans matters publicly for fear of a backlash.

So that’s healthy. Trans ideology is making life steadily worse for women, and the people in charge are afraid even to talk about it.

One MP who attends regularly said the meetings “have to be top-secret or no one would come”. They added: “It’s a way of bringing women and men across the House together to meet secretly to talk about these issues, because they can’t speak out publicly.”

[Rosie Duffield] was also briefed against by Matthew Doyle, director of communications for Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, who described the situation with Duffield as “irritating” but insisted it does not do the party “any actual damage”.

In an audio clip released by Guido Fawkes, the right-wing political gossip blog, Doyle, who previously worked for Sir Tony Blair, accused her of doing “incredibly disingenuous things”, adding: “There are people in Canterbury who say it would be nice [for her] to spend a bit more time actually in Canterbury rather than hanging out with JK Rowling.”

Bros before hos, yet again.

So charged is the debate that not one of the dozen Labour MPs I have spoken to this week would go on the record to express their concerns about the party’s equivocal position on the trans and gender issue — not even Harriet Harman, the architect of the Equality Act, which outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.

All said the issue was “toxic” and that wading into the debate always opened up a “world of pain.” They are also concerned about exposing divisions within Labour amid fears it could hurt the party at the next election. One moderate Labour MP told me that whenever she talked about the need for safe spaces for women, she got online abuse and was told she was an extremist.

Does this sound like a normal healthy situation? Is it a coincidence that the people being harmed by it are women?

Baroness Hayter said it was easier for Labour peers to speak out because they do not have a constituency party to answer to. She said Labour MPs were often worried about the abuse they and, particularly, their staff, would be subjected to.

“I’m afraid I see this as being a bit like antisemitism when it was first called out in the party and people were saying it was all being exaggerated and overblown and with this issue it is the same thing,” she said. “They are trying to squash us and stop us from raising it. Jewish groups were told to be quiet about antisemitism and now women are being told to shut up too. But this is misogyny. This is men telling women to get back in their box.”

And telling them with venom and visible, red-faced rage and hatred. It’s a disgusting situation.

Another peer said: “The treatment of Rosie and Miriam has actually attracted a lot more people to our side of the argument because they have finally seen the bullying and misogynistic behaviour for what it is. This is women being aggressively silenced by men, so it has been very graphic. Combine that with the issues around Scotland and self-identification and you start to see the reality of the threat to sex-based rights very visually.”

You’re goddam right. Thanks Lloyd! Thanks for being such a horrible piggy person right out in the open where everyone can see.

[The Labour Women’s Declaration working group] has been dismayed to discover that it has been banned from having a stall at this weekend’s regional Labour conference in London. The decision to ban the group from having a stall at last year’s annual conference in Liverpool led to a letter of protest signed by Labour MPs and peers.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “This refusal unfortunately builds on the party’s decision not to allow us a conference stand at last year’s national conference in Liverpool. This position clearly has to change. We have productive private conversations and have given detailed briefings to many Labour politicians, including Keir Starmer and Anneliese Dodds. But banning us from Labour events like this makes the party look ridiculous.

“Keir will regain the respect of so many women if he shows leadership right now and makes good his words about our rights to be heard. This entails giving both Labour Women’s Declaration and Lesbian Labour the right, just like other campaign groups, to run stalls at conferences, and to engage in respectful conversations within the party.”

Or he can just stick with bros before hos.

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