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Labour’s manifesto is Stonewall lite

The party isn’t even honest about its proposals on sex and gender. Credit: Getty

June 13, 2024 - 3:21pm

It’s Stonewall lite: the Labour manifesto, which was the party’s chance to win back disillusioned women, has brazenly confirmed the influence of trans activists instead. Unveiled with great fanfare, it contains a series of pledges that will delight zealots who peddle fantasies about the oppression of transgender people. What Labour hasn’t done is take notice of feminist lawyers and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, who all say that the Equality Act urgently needs clarification to protect single-sex spaces.

The party isn’t even honest about its proposals on sex and gender, adding a nervous gloss to make them sound more reasonable than they are. Using the language of gender theory, it describes “conversion therapy” as abuse and promises “a full trans-inclusive ban on conversion practices”. Labour frontbenchers, including the Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, must be aware that Dr Hilary Cass has warned against any such ban, suggesting it might “make professional fearfulness worse than it already is”. So Labour has added a line about “protecting the freedom for people to explore their sexual orientation and gender identity”, directly contradicting the first half of the pledge.

A Labour government will also move closer to self-ID, making it easier for men who haven’t had surgery or taken hormones to get a legal document declaring they’re female. The party has rowed back from allowing a single GP to diagnose gender dysphoria, saying it will have to be done by a “specialist doctor”, but it’s still making unevidenced claims about the “indignities” of the current process. “We will modernise, simplify and reform the intrusive and outdated gender recognition law”, the manifesto declares, as though acquiring a gender recognition certificate is of no more import than getting a new passport.

Labour is also committed to making “hate crimes” against transgender people an aggravated offence. “Hate crimes” are defined by the Crown Prosecution Service as “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice”, something trans activists have embraced with relish. As a former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer should be aware of the danger of increasing penalties for an offence that’s likely to have a chilling effect on free speech, but that’s what happens when you contract out key areas of policy to illiberal lobbyists.

The only thing gender extremists haven’t got from Labour is a pledge to remove the right of wives to get a divorce before their husbands change their legal gender. Forcing women into a same-sex marriage against their will is evidently a step too far, even for a thoroughly captured Labour Party, but the manifesto confirms that the party has set its face against reality.

Starmer’s Labour party believes that human beings can change sex. It insists they should be helped to do so in law, regardless of the impact on women. It supports “the implementation of…single-sex exceptions” in the Equality Act, but won’t make a simple change that would prevent malicious challenges to organisations running rape shelters and refuges.

In a bad week for women, the Lib Dems and Greens have embraced self-ID, while Labour is well on the way. If this general election has done nothing else, it has confirmed how few politicians are listening to women. Across the centre-left, these demands are in the ascendant, and that leaves a lot of us with nowhere to go — and no one to vote for.


Joan Smith is a novelist and columnist. She was previously Chair of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board. Her book Unfortunately, She Was A Nymphomaniac: A New History of Rome’s Imperial Women will be published in November 2024.

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Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
1 month ago

None of this is any surprise.
“leaves a lot of us with nowhere to go — and no one to vote for.”
Nonsense! vote Tory or Reform and encourage other women to do the same, if you really believe what you are saying Joan.

s g
s g
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Tory has not been much better than labour with regards to women’s rights and is not a viable choice. In particular, the definition of a hate crime cited in th article and opening doors to reporting anyone for anything on whim, was introduced under the so called conservative government.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  s g

There are plenty of areas where the Tories have been awful over the past 14 years, including this area. However they have been clear in their manifesto now and it is what Joan says she wants. Reform are the same, so if she can’t stomach voting Tory then that is another option. What she really means is that there is no left leaning party that gives her what she wants and she can’t bring herself to vote right. Either the issue is of the utmost importance to her or it does not really matter that much.
Starmer is happy ignoring the voices in his own party that warn of the dangers, because he knows it won’t lose him many votes so why bother.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Welcome to the world most people occupy. The fact that Labour, LibDems and Green promote utterly mad and repugnant transgender policies is not enough for the author to put her x against Conservative or Reform shows her priorities. Being a “TERF” feminist is not as important as being a leftist.

Does she really imagine those voting for Conservative or Reform actually approve of all their actions or policies? We all have to put up with a lot of dud policies and stupid practices from our favoured party. Most conservatives have not had a party with a chance to become a government for quite a few years. We usually vote for the least worst option although this year conservative exasperation is like to let in what in many ways (including the way the author complains of) is the worst option.

Phil Day
Phil Day
1 month ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Not surprised the Tories have been on board with this sort of twaddle – far too many of them are ‘biological’ liberals or social democrats who ‘self identify’ as Conservatives.

Jill
Jill
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Ahem! David Cameron – gay marriage …

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

I’ll be voting Reform because the Labour Party hasn’t reigned back on it’s mad policies which will be detrimental to women.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
1 month ago

What are these “women” of whom you speak? I have been assured that such a class of people is a social construct with no grounding in biology or reality. There is a strange irony when the feminists are invoked. Part of their thing was seeing to it that women could crash previously male-only spaces. How odd that they would seek to deny men similar entre into female-only domains.
There is a little sarcasm in that but only a little. The attempt to erase womanhood is not going to stop. It’s next stop with certain parts of the alphabet and a move to replace same-sex with same-gender. Crazy? Maybe, but five years ago, the idea of virtual imprisonment of the masses over a respiratory virus would have sounded crazy, too.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Thanks for drawing the fire Alex.

Im trying to resist commenting on this one – nobody likes having the implications of their beliefs pointed out to them.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

One could also point out the fact that they were quite happy with Stonewall dictating public policy before it went all in on trans. This is the bed they made.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

This is my view too. They were happy to no platform people too and cancel people. Their nerve in criticising trans activists for doing exactly what they were happy to do in the name of their own cause is galling to say the least.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

This has nothing to do with feminism and everything to do with women.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

Can we not just kick this whole issue into the long grass and try and sort more pressing issues which affect the whole country.

In the meantime research could be done on this issue so we have more actual facts to go on. And the activists on both sides could get some therapy to deal with anger issues.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Only if you think women’s issues aren’t pressing. & for men, I imagine they’re not. But for us, this is very pressing.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Only if you think women’s issues aren’t pressing

Not as pressing as issues like the health service, housing, the economy etc which impact the lives of millions of people every day. The number of trans people is small. The number of women who will actually encounter a trans person in a toilet say is smaller still, and the number where this will present a serious issue smaller still again.

Even off the radar issues like car accidents are far bigger, resulting in large numbers of deaths, including the deaths of children, every year. Women cyclists being killed in London is a bigger issue. It’s just that none of these issues is ideologically charged the way this one is.

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

Please don’t keep trying to trivialise a massive issue. It’s about free speech, women’s welfare and biological reality. If the Labour Party are not concerned about these issues then they bloody well should be!

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 month ago

Not happy with the Labour Party on gender (and gender ideology) , as explained above. The so-called new ‘Race Act’ should concern us too (based on equity and/ or Critical Race Theory). Captured, indeed….

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago
Reply to  Graeme Kemp

I would have more sympathy if there was an acknowledgment that the trans nonsense is part of a broader spectrum of activism designed to demonise normal, functioning people. But you won’t see this because a lot of noise comes from left wing feminists who are otherwise on board with all the other rubbish. They’re only making noise about something that directly affects themselves and people like them. So, boo-hoo-hoo. Vote for a different party. Plenty of miserable old gammons like me are well onside with this, but there’s no reciprocity if we’re hung out to dry.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
1 month ago

“leaves a lot of us with nowhere to go — and no one to vote for.”
Have you forgotten Gorgeous George?
George Galloway has spoken against what he described as intellectual terror, “It’s time to stand up for women, and men had better start joining in too.”

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 month ago

Labour are credibility lite!

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 month ago

I look forward to JK Rowling’s response once the hate law is approved.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I’m assuming it is hate crime legislation, not hate speech. Can anybody clarify?

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
1 month ago

The SDP provides a home for those who support a more left wing approach to economic issues and income distribution but don’t want the gender borg sprinkling their t**d dust all over government.

David Morley
David Morley
1 month ago

 “Hate crimes” are defined by the Crown Prosecution Service as “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice”, 

I think this whole idea is problematic. It has the definition of a crime hinge on subjective views which may themselves be motivated by prejudice. I’m also not sure if the same crime should be treated differently, depending on whether it is motivated by personal or group animosity. The crime is the crime.

Is this the authors view, or is she only unhappy about this being extended to cover trans people.

Phil Day
Phil Day
1 month ago
Reply to  David Morley

No – it is a well intentioned but poorly thought out UK law which has been weaponised to chill debate, free speech and criticism by activists for a number of different causes. Should have been amended but we’ve got a pathetic political class here.

David Lindsay
David Lindsay
1 month ago

Joan Smith bears more than a passing resemblance to the middle-aged, middle-class women who are conspicuous at trans events, at which hordes of young women are accompanied by a goodly number of their academic instructors and administrators of the same sex, as such instructors and administrators now tend to be. Whether she likes it or not, Judith Butler is a woman. By some distance, she is the most cited female academic in the world. And who is citing her? Humanities academia is ever more heavily female.

The last Parliamentary Labour Party contained more women than men, and probably every one of those women would have called herself a feminist. All of two were gender critical. There was precisely one gender critic among 14 SNP women MPs, again no doubt feminists all. 10 of the 15 Liberal Democrat MPs, two thirds, were women. Did any of them ever give anyone cause to call her a TERF? Nor did Plaid Cymru’s only woman MP. The only Green MP was a woman, and the most likely Green MP this time is a woman. This whole situation has arisen under the post-Cameron Conservatives. Gender critical feminists need to have a word with their peers.

Pip G
Pip G
1 month ago

Foolish of Labour to do this. Far more votes from Women and Social conservatives than the over loud ‘Identities’.
In my constituency there is a candidate for the Social Democratic Party: the current version of the SDP started by David Owen, Roy Jenkins et al, but without the Liberals. I looked at their manifesto: Left on Economics but Conservative on social matters.
Not a hope of being elected but a good ‘conscience’ choice.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
1 month ago

The same threat to Western civilisation posed by Trudeau in Canada and Biden in the US, that’s ID Politics Labour.

Dr. G Marzanna
Dr. G Marzanna
1 month ago

I’ve decided I am not going to vote. I hate them all. This cinches it.

Susan Grabston
Susan Grabston
1 month ago

When Starmer tells me he doesn’t believe that 35,000 British women have a p***s (his last 0.1% pronouncement) and apologises to Rosie Duffield for the party member abuse he failed to squash, then I might just listen.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
1 month ago

Nobody to vote for?

You could, of course, hold your nose and vote Tory or Reform. But you won’t.

General Store
General Store
1 month ago

Vote Reform then