Socialist Worker

Labour uses transphobia in an appeal to right and Tory voters

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2773

A huge march for trans rights through central London in June.

A huge march for trans rights through central London in June. (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The Labour Party is throwing oppressed people under the bus in a bid to win over Tory voters.

The party allowed one of its MPs, Rosie Duffield, to attack trans rights activists on the front page of a national newspaper on Sunday.

Just days earlier, one of its most prominent black, women MPs resigned as its shadow equalities minister over the leadership’s refusal to take up racial injustice.

Meanwhile the right wing ­faction, Progressive Britain said the party had to ditch so-called “culture war issues.”

It said this was because Labour has to win over “soft Tory” voters supposedly uninterested in ­anti‑­racism or LGBT+ rights.

Party activists were furious after the Sunday Times newspaper claimed trans rights campaigners had effectively stopped Duffield from attending the upcoming Labour conference.

Duffield implied to the ­newspaper that the LGBT+ Labour Group had threatened her.

Supporters of trans rights in the Labour Party have rightly criticised Duffield for her bigoted views.

These include that trans women should be excluded from women‑only spaces such as refuges.

In an interview with the Times, Duffield said LGBT+ Labour “now seem to hate my guts and I feared they’d have a massive go at me at conference.”

Keir Starmer drives people away from Labour
Keir Starmer drives people away from Labour
  Read More

She also suggested women who support trans rights simply “want to be seen to be very woke”.

Party activists demanded to know why Keir Starmer was silent over Duffield’s attack on trans people.

It came after Labour MP Marsha de Cordova resigned as Starmer’s shadow equalities minister. Well placed sources told African‑Caribbean newspaper, The Voice that she quit after party ­leadership sidelined her plans for tackling racial injustice.

They also say Labour failed to send her to a single media interview during her 17 months in the role. A friend of de Cordova said, “She always had a goal that she wanted Keir to speak authentically about race and, despite her trying, it just was never going to happen.

“Marsha wanted to develop Labour’s vision for race equality but kept meeting stumbling blocks, even to just put out comments on things, it was watered down.”

MP Clive Lewis added that the party under Starmer has “nothing to say on racial justice”.

Meanwhile Progressive Britain published a report that said Labour has to win over “soft Tory voters” in the so-called “Red Wall” areas.

These are parts of Britain where Labour’s support has collapsed after years of attacks on jobs and living standards, which the party has refused to oppose.

The right in Labour claim that winning them back means refusing to challenge—or worse, go along with—Tory attacks on migrants, black people and trans rights.

They say Labour has lost support because it is seen as too left wing. In fact, repeated polls and surveys of former Labour voters have shown very few of them see Labour as “too woke”.

But for Labour’s leadership, being electable and respectable means refusing to challenge the Tories—and pandering to the worst of their bigotry.


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