Jamie Wallis last week came out as the first openly transgender MP, heralded by some sections of the mainstream press as a huge win for LGBT+ rights. But it surprised some that he is a member of the Conservative Party. Wallis, MP for Bridgend, said someone tried to blackmail him in April 2020 and extort £50,000 from him.
Wallis went public when last week Tory leader Boris Johnson made a joke alluding to Labour leader Keir Starmer’s support for trans rights at a private dinner for MPs. Johnson said, “Good evening ladies and gentleman. Or, as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.”
We must stand clearly in solidarity with anyone who faces “outing” and blackmail as Wallis has. And Johnson offered his support to Wallis in the commons shortly after his announcement. That Johnson is happy to make transphobic jokes in private but lend support to Wallis in public underlines this hypocrisy, as does Willis’ voting record.
He’s happy to vote for legislation such as the Police, Crimes, Courts and Sentencing Bill. LGBT+ rights and transgender rights in particular have been won by protest—something the bill wants to criminalise. And Wallis alluded to the backlash he would receive in his statement, saying, “I always imagined I would leave politics well before I said this out loud.”
The Conservative Party has never and will never be a place where transgender and non-binary people are welcome. That’s clear with the history of the Tories, from the introduction of Section 28 in the 1990s, through to its opposition to equal marriage. Blackmail is a horrific crime and something that LGBT+ people often face in society.
We must not allow the hypocrisy within the Tory party itself to go unchecked. Johnson and his mates at the top of the party are deeply transphobic. Trans faces in high places is not the way to win liberation, only by fighting the Tories through struggle can we win the change we need.
The far right Ukip party intended recently to hold a “free speech” conference in Newcastle. It was clear from the platform of speakers that their actual intention was to defend racism and bigotry. This alongside Ukip’s lurch further to the right meant that anti-racists had to oppose the event.
Pressure from Stand Up To Racism forced Ukip to postpone the meeting. The organisers were sent packing with their tails between their legs. At the heart of the campaign was the politics of the Socialist Workers Party and the idea that working class people can change the world. We mobilised wider forces and contacted local MPs, trade unions and activists who live and work in the northeast of England.
Mobilising the working class against a far right meeting with a platform that included fascists and key far right figures showed both the urgency and the seriousness of the situation. The week before the event, the hotel announced that the event had been cancelled.
The swift response from local anti-racists and anti-fascists in Newcastle nipped Ukip in the bud. This prevented the growth of a far right threat in Newcastle which would have emboldened the hardened fascists. The far right threat can be smashed by working class resistance.
The Adur and Worthing refuse workers all out strike is now in its fourth week, and the pickets’ determination remains undiminished. Many have been speaking of the almost liberating effect of the strike after years of rubbish pay. They say they have faced years of management abuses. But the strike has changed all that.
As a result of standing up for themselves, they have inspired a greater respect within the community for doing their job. Now bosses have made tentative advances to their union for talks about pay, and recognition. This would have been inconceivable prior to the strike. It’s another example of how struggle changes not just workers’ situations, but the people themselves.
The Zionist organisation, We Believe in Israel is targeting rapper Lowkey over his pro-Palestine songs. The group says “extremist” and “antisemitic” music must be removed from Spotify. Lowkey is neither of these. His music gives a voice to oppressed Palestinians who have suffered ethnic cleansing at the hands of Israel.
Music against oppression is important. It gives our sisters and brothers hope that there is support for them. The pro-Israel group wants to silence all criticism of Israel’s violence. That’s why supporting Lowkey is important.
What is happening to Lowkey has happened to other Palestinian activists before him, silenced for standing up against Israeli violence. Palestinian people must be heard and freed.
In your article about inflation, (Socialist Worker, 28 March) you say “trade unions should combine their demands for pay rises of at least inflation with demands for government action on prices.” But workers should be calling for strikes, even a general strike, to defend what is in their own interest.
Trade unions are the nearest thing to “real” democracy the working class experienced under the present set up. It’s totally at odds with the limited democracy people are used to of a vote every five years
I see from the media that prince Andrew is back to royal duties and accompanied the queen to a memorial for prince Philip. He’ll be gradually reinstated in The Firm. Isn’t it about time the unelected and undemocratic Windsors were retired and their property used for other purposes such as housing refugees?
Angus Rose is desperate to get energy minister Greg Hands to agree to a climate crisis briefing. So desperate, he’s on hunger strike until Hands agrees. But doesn’t Angus know how callous the top Tories are? They’d sell their own grandmother if it meant keeping fossil fuel capitalism going.
I was delighted to see that Pen Green nursery in Northamptonshire was saved from closure this week. It shows how campaigns can win. But it’s a short stay of execution with a funding shortfall expected next year. When will this government take public services seriously?
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