June 24, 2024 - 7:00am

J.K. Rowling has encouraged Britons to vote for the Communist Party, a day after writing an article for the Times in which she suggested that she cannot vote for Labour given its current position on women’s rights.

“If you were going to spoil your ballot paper, why not check this list to see whether there’s a [Communist Party] candidate in your constituency,” the Harry Potter author tweeted, in response to a statement from Communist Party (CP) candidate and University of Edinburgh academic Richard Shillcock. In it, Shillcock pledged support for “recognising the nature of biological sex, defending sex-based rights and signle-sex services [sic] and sports, changing the Equality Act such that ‘sex’ means ‘biological sex’, and for calm, comprehensive discussion of these issues”.

He added of the CP: “We oppose gender self-identification and the new gender ideology. We oppose all forms of conversion therapy applied to lesbian and gay people and we oppose including trans identities in such a ban.” Shillcock also referred to the Cass Report as “authoritative”, weeks after Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie claimed he could not support Hilary Cass’s review as a “valid scientific document”.

The CP is fielding 14 candidates across Britain for the general election 4 July. The party, formed in 1988 following a split within the Communist Party of Great Britain, has a membership of under 1,800 people and has never achieved more than 1,300 votes in a general election. This year is the first time it has stood candidates since 2015, having supported Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in 2017 and 2019.

Rowling was previously a major Labour donor, giving £1 million in 2008 alone, yet in this weekend’s article she detailed her despair at a party that “not merely saw the rights of women as disposable, but struggled to say what a woman was at all”. She accused Sir Keir Starmer of “dismissing women like me”, and of failing to provide support for Labour MP Rosie Duffield, who has previously been the target of online death threats and who this month was forced to pull out of a hustings event, citing fears for her safety.

Last year the Communist Party criticised Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, referring to “serious problems […] raised by a range of women’s and other civil society groups” which were then “denied and dismissed” by Scottish Government ministers. It added that the party “supports the right of trans people to live free from discrimination and prejudice”, and that “gender as an ideological construct should not be confused or conflated with the material reality of biological sex”. At the time, Rowling joked: “Can’t wait for the Guardian columns denouncing the British Communist Party [sic] as far-right.”

“For left-leaning women like us, this isn’t, and never has been, about trans people enjoying the rights of every other citizen,” the author wrote in her Times article. “This is about the right of women and girls to assert their boundaries. It’s about freedom of speech and observable truth.” Further, she claimed, “it’s about waiting, with dwindling hope, for the left to wake up to the fact that its lazy embrace of a quasi-religious ideology is having calamitous consequences.”