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Labour is still failing to protect Rosie Duffield

Labour has created a toxic environment for MPs like Rosie Duffield. Credit: Getty

June 16, 2024 - 1:00pm

Earlier this year Good Morning Britain’s Susanna Reid asked Keir Starmer whether he owed Rosie Duffield an apology for claiming she should not have said “only women have a cervix”. The Labour leader felt he did not, although he did express his distaste for the “toxicity” of the trans debate.

When Reid countered that things had been particularly toxic for Duffield, Starmer told us he “thought of that poor girl Brianna [Ghey], who was murdered”. It was a strange comment. If you do not want a debate to be “toxic”, why posit a link between the murder of a trans teenager and the situation with Duffield? Was it to suggest that the harassment the latter had received was not so great? Or was Starmer implying that the murder was part of the same “toxic debate”? Either way, his comment was both exploitative of Ghey’s death and dismissive of Duffield’s ordeal.

This week Duffield announced that she would not be attending local hustings due to threats of violence. To anyone who has witnessed the escalating abuse she has received for defending sex-based rights, this was not surprising. Then again, nor was it surprising to fellow MPs such as Jess Phillips, who has also faced threats to her own and her family’s safety, simply for doing her job.

In response, Harriet Harman tweeted that there should be “zero tolerance for this. It’s not free/speech protest. It’s thuggery”. In this, she is absolutely correct. At the same time, it is difficult not to sense that a particular narrative is emerging, one in which the problem is not that Duffield is being singled out for her feminist views, but that MPs in general are being put in danger by violent constituents. But can’t both of these things be true?

When I saw Harman’s tweet, I couldn’t help thinking of Starmer’s earlier interview. It is not enough to say that all threats to MPs are bad. They are, but in order to deal with the problem, we have to identify what or who is granting legitimacy to the hate.

Many of those who threaten MPs are paranoid, mentally unwell, in thrall to conspiracy theories, and/or egged on by extremist groups. They must be held responsible for their actions, but we also cannot ignore those who have encouraged them.

The truth is that in Duffield’s situation, some of this encouragement has come from Labour activists themselves, and in some cases sitting MPs. I am sure these people would claim that they would never advocate violence. I believe them. However, I would ask them this: if you are going to sign a pledge that denounces feminist organisations who believe sex matters as “hate groups”, or permit mob harassment of feminists at your conference, or accuse female MPs speaking of male violence of making “transphobic, dog-whistle speeches”, what do you expect to happen? To be clear, the events I refer to are not recent, nor are they specific to Rosie Duffield. This has been going on for years.

To be fair to Keir Starmer, he has not been involved in the worst of it (he did not sign the infamous pledge). However, if you are going to link the death of a child to Rosie Duffield saying “only women have a cervix”, what do you think that signals to someone who has been radicalised into thinking feminists want trans children dead? One response to Jess Phillips’ tweet claimed that since Duffield “spreads hate about trans people daily” she has no right to “play the victim”. Plenty of Labour activists have endorsed this view and no one in authority has told them to stop.

People who threaten or commit violence often delude themselves that it is in self-defence. Once someone has reached this state, it is hard to convince them otherwise. Labour’s “both sides” approach to the trans debate has told some deeply unhappy people that feminist MPs really are out to get them. Why should anyone be surprised if some of them believe it?


Victoria Smith is a writer and creator of the Glosswitch newsletter.

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Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago

More evidence of how utterly slimy Starmer can be. Anyway, if this issue concerns you, do not vote Labour, SNP, Green or Lib Dem.

Rob N
Rob N
1 month ago

Or Conservative. Don’t forget they brought in 2010 Equality Act, have done nothing to rein in this nonsense for 14 years, have many Trans allies etc.

The only options for people who think biological reality matters are Reform, SDP, Heritage Party. All the others will soon be telling us 2+2=5.

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

The Tories also have the only transgender MP in Jamie Wallis. (And for anyone who thinks a basic knowledge of science would clear matters up, he has two science degrees—undergrad in chemistry; doctorate in astrobiology. Although I’m not convinced the latter is really a science, anyway.) This isn’t straightforwardly a left v right issue.

Liam F
Liam F
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Weeden

Transgender? This is the same guy who set up a string of failed companies (Quickie Divorce Ltd, Actions Direct Ltd,et al which were banned by the Ministry of Justice. When he later fled the scene of car accident the judge commented that he “didn’t find the defendant credible”. The Conservatives still kept him on though. because he conveniently said “”I’m trans. Or to be more accurate, I want to be”.
Such is the calibre of talent we are reduced to nowadays.

Jonathan Gibbs
Jonathan Gibbs
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Weeden

He has one degree – Astrobiology isn’t a real subject, and won’t be until we find life off the planet Earth.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave Weeden

I notice that Wallis has gone a bit quiet on this. Seems that playing the trans card after crashing your car while wearing a faux leather mini-skirt and tights didn’t earn him the sympathy vote.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Also the Scottish Family Party.

Janet G
Janet G
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

and the Party of Women.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Equality Act 2010 was Harriet Harman’s doing and was passed and given Royal Assent under the Brown administration. Commencement began after the May GE in October under the Coalition, which is not the same as the Tories bringing it in.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

The Equality Act 2010 was one of the last acts (sic) of the Brown government, not the Tories. Harman was its cheerleader.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

The Conservatives did not bring in the 2010 Equality Act. That was Brown and Harman. It had gained Assent before the 2010 election. And my earlier post about this has mysteriously vanished.

Mary Page
Mary Page
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

The Equalty Act 2010was brought in under the last Labour Government, Gordon Brown PM

Harry Child
Harry Child
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

A quick check on the facts. The Equality Act 2010[1] (c. 15), often erroneously called the Equalities Act 2010, is an act of Parliament of the United Kingdom passed during the Brown ministry with the primary purpose of consolidating, updating and supplementing the numerous prior Acts and Regulations, that formed the basis of anti-discrimination law in mostly England, Scotland and Wales. Events in 2010 show Brown resigned as Prime Minister and Labour Leader on the evening of 11 May, and the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government led by David Cameron took office shortly thereafter. There would be no time for a Conservative Govt to amend this legislation and no way of cancelling it with the Lib Dems as partners in the Government.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

People pretending to be the opposite sex, or claiming to “identify”as other creatures, or pronouncing they are “time blind” and must be accommodated are suffering from delusions, if they’re not just outright cosplaying for attention. Some are deeply disturbed and prone to violence. Why this has been tolerated is not a mystery. There are elements both foreign and domestic who wish to destroy successful Western nations by ripping away at the fabric of our social norms. Girls claiming to be “trans” skyrocketed with the advent of Tik Tok, to the delight, no doubt, of the CCP.

Any person, particularly those in positions of authority, unable to recognize the sheer malevolent idiocy of this obvious, laughable lie is a moral coward. XX and XY. There is no “trans”.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

There is no “trans”.

There have been trans people throughout history and across cultures, the question is why. It may be some sort of biological quirk. Clearly they do exist. A subsidiary question is why the phenomena is taking off now, in our society, when it did not before. I’m thinking here of various forms of gender fluidity, not just trans. Is it merely the dropping of a taboo, or are there cultural and sociological reasons? Is it mass psychology? What role does social media play?

We actually don’t have definitive answers to these questions, so anyone claiming we do is simply wrong. Their positions are underevidenced, often dogmatic and ideological. All we can do is present analysis, hypotheses, and the evidence as it stands. Anything else is frankly a preference for dogma over thinking.

S D
S D
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

There are male, female, and intersex people. What is currently missing in my view is evidence for the distinction between a man who believes he is a woman, and a man who believes he is a pineapple. Until recently both were thought of as mental illness. What is the biological marker of a trans person, besides believing they are trans?

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
1 month ago
Reply to  S D

“Intersex” isn’t some sort of third sex.
Its a quasi-medical term used to describe people with atypical sexual characteristics, usually as a consequence of developmental disorders. Intersex people are still either male or female with atypical variations.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

We’re not talking about intersex here.

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

S D is.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Yes, in reply to me.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
1 month ago

Intersex is not trans, and intersex is very very rare (1.7 in 10,000 and that is an over-estimate). Intersex is a disorder of development.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  S D

Throughout history and across cultures there have been biological men who presented entirely as women. The ways in which we have conceptualised this have varied, but the phenomena is not new.

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Hmm . . ok.
But just to check. You do know that you’re not DM’ing each other, don’t you? Other people can see your messages and join in. That’s kind of the whole point of a message board.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Anyone can wear any clothes that they like, and can put on makeup. Only in the last 20 years have they been possessed of the delusion that sex can be changed, which it cannot.

Paul Thompson
Paul Thompson
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

False. Trans is NOT a long-term phenomena. We have only recently (since 1994, and most commonly since 2016) given the wrong-sex hormones. Trannies are not a part of our world. They are a new delusional psychosis.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

Exactly so. Cross-dressing has probably always been around since human beings have worn clothes and has been accepted in different cultures at different times. The concept of ‘trans’ is new and is a different way of thinking. Put crudely, the idea behind being trans is that a human being can be anything they want to be. So a man can literally be a woman, a woman a man. If you want to ‘identify’ as a member of the opposite sex, or a goldfish or a cat, then feel free. The whole idea is a delusion on a grand scale.
At the present time, in western countries, we’re expected to think of cross-dressers as people who have actually, through some miracle or other, changed sex i.e. they’re trans. Of course, this is impossible because humans, like all mammals, do not have the capacity to change sex. In spite of this, we’re expected to deny the evidence of our own eyes and knowledge of human biology. So when the likes of Eddie Izzard or Jordan Gray say they’re women, we’re expected to nod our heads and say, ‘of course you are’. Certainly there are people in high places who think this is precisely what we should do.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

If you want to ‘identify’ as a member of the opposite sex, or a goldfish or a cat, then feel free. 

You’re taking the hyperbole of opponents as their actual position. And trans women do not think they are the same as biological women (cis women in their jargon). They believe the classification “women” should include both cis women and trans women. At bottom it’s a social classification claim, not a biological one.

Personally I’m far from sure that is a good idea. But at least understand the position you’re opposing.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

So many women have asked you to stop using the term ‘cis’, as I have, because we find it offensive to use terminology which we don’t recognise. Why can’t you be ‘kind’ and bin the transgender activist’s terminology?

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Cornish

So much for freedom of speech then. Mark – you really are a bit of a bore. How about presenting some argument, or analysis. And believe it or not, you are not the anointed spokesman for all women. Get off your high horse.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Thanks for labelling me as ‘a bore’ because I don’t go along with your opinions. I wish I could meet you face to face and ask you to repeat that statement. You wouldn’t, of course, because you hide behind your keyboard.
The point I was making is that the ‘trans nutcases’ insist on controlling the narrative and ask everyone to ‘respect’ their pronouns and ‘be kind’ to them. I’m just asking for parity.
I’m not on any ‘high horses’. I’m simply trying to stop women and girls being sexually assaulted by perverts. If you disagree with that, then you are complicit in their lunatic ideology.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

I have never sought to be ‘a self appointed (not ‘anointed’) spokesman for all women’; quite the contrary. I believe women can speak forthrightly for themselves and I have made that very clear in my comments; if you bother to read them. It’s a shame that you dismiss women’s opinions so flippantly and conflate a really serious issue with your issues with ‘feminism’ as a whole.
I’d love to meet with you and discuss the issues personally. Just name the venue and time.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul Thompson

They are a new delusional psychosis.

The technologies related to trans are relatively new (re alignment, cosmetic surgery, hormones) Trans phenomena are as old as the hills. See comment re Tahiti – but similar phenomena can be found in India and elsewhere.

In my view effeminate homosexuals and masculine presenting lesbians are trans phenomena in a broad sense too. These aren’t people who simply fancy people of the same sex – they have, or adopt, modes of dress and behaviour associated with the opposite sex.

What you describe as a “new delusional psychosis” just isn’t new at all.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
7 days ago
Reply to  David Morley

People are either heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. Any other sexual tastes are based on personal tastes and fetishes. No need for drugs (chemical experimentation), or surgery (permanent mutilation).

Janet G
Janet G
1 month ago

Having read and watched Jennifer Bilek on the big money behind the transgender movement, I wonder how many of the thuggish activists who threaten politicians and speakers are paid to do so.

Rob N
Rob N
1 month ago

“the problem is not that Duffield is being singled out for her feminist views,”. Knowing only women have a cervix is a sign of sanity, not feminism.

Lancashire Lad
Lancashire Lad
1 month ago

I’m not sure Rosie Duffield should need to be “protected”. What she should be is supported, against the onslaught of social media threats. Instead, the Labour Party and its so-called Leader would rather dissemble and denigrate her.

That tells us, as if we didn’t already know, how supine, cowardly and unsupportable our next government (by default) is going to be.

The next few years are make or break. The system needs to be broken before we can move forward.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  Lancashire Lad

Totally agree. I’m voting Reform because the Labour Party cannot commit to binning this ludicrous ideology. Have they not paid attention to the SNP debacle?!!! They have misjudged the public mood and they don’t deserve to get the merest whiff of power until they can describe reality.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
1 month ago

“”People who threaten or commit violence often delude themselves that it is in self-defence. Once someone has reached this state, it is hard to convince them otherwise. This is very perceptive.
In the 1950s, the CND marches were cheerful events. The 1960s anti Vietnam demonstrations were violent. The non Christian middle class Left has believed it is aceptable to use violence ever since the French Revolution; the founders of the Labour Party did not. How many of those attacked on the Trans Debate thought it acceptable to use violence against policies they disagreed with early in their lives or did not condemn it.

David L
David L
1 month ago

Political violence. Nearly always from the left.

Maybe one day they’ll admit that they’re the baddies.

Paul McLaughlan
Paul McLaughlan
1 month ago
Reply to  David L

I’m amazed that the article can cover violence against politicians and not point out the glee from the left at Farage being assaulted, something which could so easily escalate when they call everyone to the right of them dangerous, racist, evil, bigots. This is something the left has nurtured and supported when it suited them.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago

Totally agree. It’s heinous when it happens to someone in the Labour Party, but a right laugh when it happens to Nigel Farrage. Hypocrisy at it’s best.
I hope Nigel responds like John Prescott did; that wiped the smug look off the face of that coward.
People assaulting campaign politicians should be jailed by default.

Mary Page
Mary Page
1 month ago
Reply to  David L

I wouldn’t describe the Nazis or Mussolini’s fascists as left wing.
The sad truth is that political violence comes from aggressive individuals from both left and right.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Mary Page

True of course. But don’t be surprised if you get some “Hitler was left wing” replies.

Arthur King
Arthur King
1 month ago

To deny sexual embodiment is to deny that women exist as a sex. People who do so are vile.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

he did express his distaste for the “toxicity” of the trans debate.

Which is about the most sensible and accurate thing you can say about the whole debate. As for his debate tactics, he’s deflecting, and I don’t blame him.

Few in this debate are arguing in good faith. Ranting and raving and taking rigid immovable positions on one side or the other is all that is to be seen.

Obviously KS doesn’t want to be drawn into a trap, in a debate that has become childish, just before an election.

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Ranting and raving and taking rigid immovable positions on one side or the other is all that is to be seen.

It is entirely correct to take a rigid immovable position on, for example: the right of sexually abused women to access women-only refuges; the right of women to a separate female category in sex-affected sports; the right of lesbians to not have sex with men-who-claim-to-be-lesbians; and the right of vulnerable children to be protected from experimental and life-changing hormonal and surgical interventions.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago

Succinctly put. No discussion needed.

Desmond Wolf
Desmond Wolf
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Your open-mindedness is a breath of fresh air.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Desmond Wolf

Thank you. It always earns me a lot of down votes though.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

There’s another one!!!!

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
1 month ago

Starmer’s treatment of Duffield, even before this latest incident, has been utterly shameful.
I quite understand how voting out the clown-parade which is the current Conservative government might seem to be the over-whelming priority for left-of-centre voters.
But my advice to any women concerned about your sex-based rights is to consider very carefully how Starmer has acted towards Duffield. That’s how its going to be towards you for perhaps the next decade.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago

He should be ashamed of himself.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Sceptics might find this interesting. The only thing I would describe as inaccurate in the piece is that it fails to point out that Gaugin was mocked for being a mahu. And in modern Tahiti having a mahu son is seen as a source of shame. While it is accepted that mahu exist, social acceptance can be overstated.

The mahu might be a practising homosexual or remain chaste, like a girl making a vow of chastity. What defines them is not how or with whom they make love, but that, having been born with the sexual organs of a man, they have opted for femininity, usually from childhood, and that, helped by their family and community, they have become women, in their way of dressing, walking, talking, singing, working and often, but clearly not necessarily, of making love.

https://www.tate.org.uk/tate-etc/issue-20-autumn-2010/men-women-pacific

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

You are so ‘learned’ aren’t you! Meanwhile, mentally fragile children are being sterilised and put on drugs for the rest of their lives. I hold you responsible for perpetuating the myth that people can ‘change sexes’.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Cornish

I read books Mark. Try it. Now you’re making judgements on who is responsible for what like lord god almighty.

I make up jokes too. Here’s one for you:

Q – what’s the difference between a male feminist and your boss?

A – It’s easier to get a rise out of a male feminist

tara for now.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

I’ve never read a book in my life, of course . I’m just a thicko who happens to have a degree in Zoolology and Pharmacology and studied a unit called ‘Embyonic and Foetal Development’ which looked into the formation of the male and female forms; the influence that the Y chromosome has on the phenotype of the male genitalia, and the complex interactions which happen ‘in utero’ and ‘post partum’ under the influence of male and female hormones.
I think you need to read some different books and get up to speed on what influences sexual dimorphism and sexual proclivity.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Don’t patronise me.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Feel free to enlighten me with your reading list and get me up to speed on your medical credentials.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

My sides are splitting. Stop it!!!!!!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago

As a side note, it would help if we stop talking aout ‘trans people’ and especially ‘trans children’ or ‘trans teenagers’. As no-one can change sex, there are only trans-identified people. Brianna Ghey was trans-identified at 15 years old, and had been indulged in that, he may have grown up to be a happy gay man later if not for two disturbed children.