Labour Losing Women is a Twitter hashtag.
And if Labour loses a chunk of its customary share of the female vote, women make up 51% of the electorate and around 47% of Labour’s membership, then the party is over.
Now you would think that Starmer and his advisers, welded to their Red Wall First strategy, would be sensitive to any risks to that vote, but you would be dead wrong.
We have been told, the membership of the Labour Party, we must kowtow to the Red Wall and embrace Hard Lexit to win power, but the leadership taking an extreme position on trans rights that most in the trans community do not seem to hold themselves is not a vote loser in, say, Wigan?
“But this is a different era, he concedes, with new problems. When he was leader, there were no arguments about sex and gender, trans rights and toppling statues. Starmer will have to go into battle over the culture wars, he says. “The polls might say voters don’t care but if you dig a little deeper, what they are really saying is we don’t like all this stuff that is being shoved at us.”
I assume he is going to cite the third way again, but Blair comes down firmly on the side of the author JK Rowling. “They [voters] don’t want a situation where women can’t talk about being women. I have this conversation quite often with Labour people and I know their inclination is to walk round this issue, but I am telling you to go right into it and resolve it in a way that makes it absolutely clear where you stand. That is how to shut down the Tories on it.”
He is risking the ire of the trans lobby now. “Of course, we shouldn’t be transphobic and we should have equal rights for trans people. But equal rights doesn’t mean you can’t use the phrase ‘pregnant woman’. If you went to Sedgefield and had that conservation, they would think you were bonkers.” The younger generation, he admits, think differently. “Leo always says to me, ‘Don’t go there, Dad. There are feelings and there are facts, but right now feelings are more important.’ ” “
The vast majority of those with a stake in formalising trans rights for transwomen want a solution that establishes those rights without subtracting from or trampling on the hard won rights of women.
Of course, that goal will not be achieved without hard work and plenty of empathy on all sides.
Starmer is one of those walking around the issue if not hoping that it and the institutional misogyny within Labour just goes away.
An example of his lack of empathy and an inability to work with people he may not simply order around?
Consider this bland response to the agonising of Rosie Duffield over whether or not to resign the Labour whip in the House of Commons.
A Labour spokesman said, “Rosie is a valued member of the Parliamentary Labour Party. Keir Starmer and the Labour Party continue to offer her our full support.”
If Starmer lacks the balls to address such a serious issue within our party why does he expect anyone to trust him to have the fortitude to face up to the challenges of the highest elected office in the land?
“The Conservatives, under whose watch Stonewall guidance secretly captured institutions, are rapidly rebalancing rights. In the House of Lords this week, Tory peers spoke against “Annex B”, NHS guidance which states that patients should always (regardless of physical transition) be treated according to gender identity, in contravention of a pledge for single-sex wards.
Liz Truss can confidently answer the question “what is a woman?”, which flummoxes most Labour MPs. Many senior Labour figures privately agree with feminist concerns but few dare speak out. Only Wes Streeting has shown the heir-to-Blair emotional and political nous to say “women have felt like they’re being told to be quiet” and that policy details must be openly hammered out.”
Streeting is shaping up to be a very credible future leader of the Labour Party.
Duffield has compared Starmer’s response to Jeremy Corbyn’s when she was threatened with a censure motion for speaking out against antisemitism in Labour. “When Jeremy Corbyn was interviewed about my local party, they had a motion of no censure because I was talking antisemitism — they wanted to basically shut me up,” she said.
“Jeremy was repeatedly asked if he supported me or if he would make a statement supporting them. He said he didn’t get involved at local level, and didn’t make statements about local constituency parties.
“I don’t feel there’s a huge amount of difference at the moment. And some of those characters are still around and still organising against me.”
She added: “We’ve gone through the whole antisemitism thing in the Corbyn years. It feels to me as though this is just a continuation. It’s not just a new thing. And from where I sit, on my own in Kent, I don’t see a huge difference.”
If the smouldering skip fire of misogyny and the intolerance of extremist trans right activists within the Labour Party bursts into flames in the open then Sir Keir Starmer QC will go up like a Guy Fawkes atop a bonfire.