Updated: Sep 23
With Labour Party Conference only three sleeps away, the excitement is off the chart already.
This afternoon Keir Starmer made the *shock* announcement that Labour not only backs Equality Law (well they should do, they wrote it) but he also backs his own policy as written in the 2019 manifesto (page 66 to be precise).
So why is this basic announcement in defence of women and the law such a shock....? in fact why is it even an announcement at all?
Only days before conference, Keir has had to reverse ferret (god I love that phrase). In June this year he made an unconvincing pledge to Pink News to support self ID. In doing so , he had to hope no one noticed Labours *actual* policies, or the *actual* law. It does not take a rocket scientist to know that sex exceptions can not exist if individuals can self ID their sex. The law knows this, and makes provisions:
Equality Act 2010 Explanatory Notes
Keir is not alone in hiding his party's policies or spinning the untenable notion that we can have self ID and sex based rights. WEP has been trying to walk that tightrope too.
Vague future promises have been dangled to encourage self ID activists to join parties, or turn down the political heat. A hideous position for women, leaving us in limbo, concerned that our basic rights could be swiped at any moment. And in the confusion they have. Link.
WEP, like Labour, also supports SSE. Moreover, our chief of staff recently stated, ‘our policies are a radical assertion of sex based rights’. Not that clarification should be needed- we know what our policies say, we wrote them......
So up until today, both Labour and WEP have been hiding their policies under a bushel.
This all changed, when this afternoon Keir left us behind, making a clear statement that women are entitled to single sex spaces.
This, just days before conference is not just a statement against self ID, but also, at last, a show that the front benches of Labour support and stand with Rosie Duffield.
Our leader, Mandu Reid has not come to Rosie’s defence so emphatically. This is disappointing of course, as it is well within her remit. It was also disappointing to see her retweet a VICE article asking for Kemi Bardenoch to resign. The article was based on an audio recording (that only VICE had heard) and published only weeks after Ben Hunte (the journo) left the BBC amid a BBC statement in relating to failings around impartiality. An article more focused on shutting down women's discussions than on solid journalistic principles.
Although we are obviously disappointed by Mandu's unsatisfactory response, we are not without sympathy. To be fair, Mandu has watched fellow Black women politicians endure continual hounding from party members and staffers.
This isn't limited to politics. Allison Bailey, Sonia Appleby, Maya Forstater, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Keira Bell and Raquel Rosario Sánchez to name only a few. It seems that the self ID lobby take a disproportionate liking to targeting Black women.
Keir has been widely criticised by feminists and even the speaker of the house over his silence around the bulk harassment of Rosie Duffield by Labour members. Organisations like Labour LGBTQI+ have whipped up hysteria, demanding withdrawal of the whip and constant repetition of (the yet not defined) allegation of transphobia.
Inaction by the front bench was read by her witch hunters as a sign of sure guilt. The failure of Keir to intervene was passing the match to her stake.
Disturbing reports revealed that instead of making a statement in defence of Rosie, Keir’s office told her she best stay home. In short they wouldn’t provide the necessary protection to keep her safe.
In amongst of all of this Marsha De Cordova (Shadow Women and Equalities) resigned this week. Her statement was evasive. It takes zero imagination to work out why. Her resignation was a devastating blow to feminists. Marsha did not speak on this issue, but she was working hard for us and we thank her for that.
So Keir is in crisis. Rosie is unable to participate in the basic mechanism of policy making of her own party (conference), and Marsha, a Black woman at the beginning of a promising career has been bullied out by the same people that have been gunning for Rosie.
This could not be further from the halcyon days of Blair’s babes. Twenty years of ‘progress’ and Keir reportedly struggled to find any women to take Marsha’s brief.
I shudder to think of Brighton this weekend. Our sisters at Labour Women’s Declaration have been afforded an official fringe meeting. (Book here). A similar meeting 2 years ago lead to women being assaulted, a building surrounded and windows menacingly kicked for over an hour. Labour staffers were in the crowd. Keir (and Mandu) both failed to condemn it. (See here).
What women in the Labour Party really don’t want is more of the same. It turns out that now it is Keir's turn to be the focus of their hostile and frequently violent picketing. Hopefully he realises that women are worth it.
So it’s three sleeps til conference, but I doubt Keir will be getting any........