by Joan Smith
Thursday, 20
October 2022
Reaction
13:00

What Keir Starmer told Pink News is a sign of things to come

The Labour leader's remarks revealed how little he has learned
by Joan Smith
Keir Starmer attends The PinkNews Awards 2022. Credit: Getty

Sir Keir Starmer strikes again. At the very moment when the government is falling apart, and thousands of women desperately want to vote Labour, he has reminded us that we can’t trust him or his party. It’s not just that he made an appearance last night at an awards ceremony organised by Pink News, an organ despised by many feminists for its relentless promotion of misogynist gender ideology. That was bad enough, but Starmer also took the opportunity to make a series of wild promises to the adoring audience, including one on ‘hate crime’ that constitutes a direct threat to free expression.

Hate crime legislation is already a problem, allowing individuals to make complaints to the police about things that aren’t even crimes — being ‘misgendered’, for instance. The fastest-growing area of complaints is ‘transgender identity’, which rose by 56% in the year to March 2022. There is ample reason to worry about how the existing law is being used but Starmer wants to double down, saying “it’s time for tougher hate crime laws so every LGBT+ crime is treated as an aggravated offence.” It went down a storm with his audience, but raises the prospect of law-abiding people facing an aggravated sentence for a social media post that uses the ‘wrong’ pronouns.


Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email

Already registered? Sign in


Starmer made other baleful commitments at the awards. He no longer talks about self-ID because we know exactly what that means — stripping away safeguards, weak as they are, that make it harder for predatory men to claim to be women. Now the Labour frontbench talks about ‘modernising’ the Gender Recognition Act, which sounds like a minor technical change. Those of us who recall what Starmer said in 2021, when he committed Labour to reforming the GRA “to include self-identification for trans people”, don’t believe it for a moment. Last night he used the new formula without spelling out what it means, but it looks as though Labour intends to allow individuals to get a gender recognition certificate without having a medical diagnosis of dysphoria. 

At the same time, Starmer threw a sop to women, saying he would “uphold the Equality Act,” including its provision for single-sex spaces. Though some Labour supporters have welcomed this part of his speech, they’re clutching at straws. You can’t uphold the right to single-sex spaces while also allowing any sexual predator to acquire a legal document that says he must be treated as a woman, even though he has a male body. Refuges and services that refuse access to trans women might win a case in court, but the prospect of fighting a costly legal action will make it easier to just give in.

For some time now, feminists in the Labour Party hoped that Starmer was quietly rowing back on the nonsense he’s come out with in the past, such as claiming that some women have a penis. Some even thought that ‘modernisation’ of the GRA might be dropped from the party’s manifesto. We can hope no longer. Last night, Starmer told us who he was and exactly what he intends to do. In a tragedy for Left-leaning women and the country, it is now clear that Labour has been fully captured by gender extremists. A Starmer government will look after the interests of trans activists, not women.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
63 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matt M
Matt M
1 month ago

The view of the British public: left on economics: right on culture is so well known now it has become a cliche.
And yet no party can grasp it! The Tories commit suicide trying to lower the top rate of tax and Labour can’t distinguish between a man or a woman.
What a shower!

Last edited 1 month ago by Matt M
Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

The same is true in the USA, especially among the large and growing Hispanic population. Being Left on culture doesn’t cost the ruling class anything so they focus on “social justice” at the expense of economic justice.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Yeah ‘LatinX’ – very popular with Hispanics, NOT!

ms. leonora
ms. leonora
1 month ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

US Latinos defy monolithic characterization.

“Economically left, culturally right” is largely a fitting label for Texas Latinos, most of whom have ancestry in the Mexican fronteriza (states across the Rio Grande from Texas)—which is well known as Mexico’s redoubt of socially conservative devout Catholicism. When Mexico’s supreme court mandated legalization of same sex marriage nationwide, an actual, fairly well organized “Nortexit” campaign arose, but ultimately went quiescent, in those states.

Some groups run much farther left on culture, like those of Oaxacan descent—from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where the local Zapotec indigenous tribe has had the social role of “muxe” (basically transwoman) for millennia, and where trans people have been legally recognized and even given small quotas in the public sector for some decades already.

Others, like Floridians of Venezuelan and Cuban descent, tend to have the politics one would expect in those who have fled the oppressive grip of autocracy labeled as “Communist”, “socialist”, and/or “leftist”.
Whether out of actual principle or because they misapprehend US conceptions of leftism/socialism as threatening the same kind of junta control, these Latinos trend solidly to the right both economically (to their own detriment as a class) and socially.

Emre S
Emre S
1 month ago
Reply to  ms. leonora

This was very interesting to read, thank you. I wouldn’t give US leftism a free pass though as with any ideology with enough thrust it can turn destructive very quickly.

Rory Ferguson
Rory Ferguson
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

SDP – Social Democratic Party

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

I was going to ask what voters are being catered to with this position? It just seems like bad politics.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

It sounds like I am being chippy, but I am not. You cannot represent people that you do not know. The only working class people that the majority of our politicians have ever met is their cleaner – and she is from Bulgaria.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Johnson

Answer: the Woking Class

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

The Social Democratic Party do seem to advocate the view you describe: https://sdp.org.uk/policies/transgender-and-biological-sex-based-rights/

Matt M
Matt M
1 month ago
Reply to  Graeme Kemp

Yes they are exactly on the money! And I am a fan of Rod Liddle, David Starkey and Patrick O’Flynn who are all supporters.

Rob N
Rob N
1 month ago
Reply to  Graeme Kemp

The SDP are illogical and just have a policy that tries to appeal to all:
Transgender individuals wishing to change their legal sex should be allowed to do so.
yet
We support segregation by biological sex in sport.
You cannot have it both ways. Either sex/gender is immutable or it is not.
Nobody cares how transpeople dress or act they only care about, some of, them trying to force us to collaborate in their delusion of their wished for sex.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Of course you can have it both ways. If transitioning into an approximation of the physical appearance of the opposite sex is the only way of accommodating their delusions, they should be allowed to do so.
But only when the process is complete should they be treated as members of that opposite sex, and never (for all the well known reasons) in sports.
That’s having it both ways. And that, as I understand it, is the SDP policy.

Graeme Kemp
Graeme Kemp
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

Rob, you make a reasonable point – I think it’s a flaw that undermines other policies in this policy area….

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

Well indeed. I thought that Johnson had an open goal in 2019. Even I could have scored. But he skyed it. I watched with incredulity. There is no point in him returning now. He should hit the lecture circuit, explaining how the British people let him down.

Matt M
Matt M
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I cut him more slack than you do due to Covid hitting 2 months into his tenure, followed by the Ukraine war, the attendant gas crisis and the highest inflation in 50 years. Not to mention his confidential advisor – who Boris expended a huge amount of political capital to defend – falling out with his wife and turning Judas.

Katya Whitton
Katya Whitton
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt M

I am exactly one of those people. I am a very egalitarian small-c conservative who wants to see people treated fairly, for nobody to live in poverty, and to “conserve” (hence the name) the great things that our society(ies) & culture(s) have painstakingly built brick by brick for centuries.
Where is our Party? Extremist free-market capitalism and corporate cronyism are both highly destructive AND innately radical (the OPPOSITE of “conservative”). We need to decouple conservatism from crazy 1980s Thatcher/Reagan economic fantasies and reclaim it for sane people who want to build a sane and decent society.

ms. leonora
ms. leonora
1 month ago
Reply to  Katya Whitton

“I am a very egalitarian small-c conservative who wants to see people treated fairly, for nobody to live in poverty, and to “conserve” (hence the name) the great things that our society(ies) & culture(s) have painstakingly built brick by brick for centuries.”

Hello, fellow classical liberal.

michael swinn
michael swinn
1 month ago
Reply to  Katya Whitton

I started in industry in 1957 and watched its decline due to too strong unions and amateurish management.
Without Maggy the UK would have gone down the tubes.
If you want to look after the less fortunate you have to have the money to do so.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago

And now toxic masculinity has been vanquished by woke, under Labour we can look forward to those darned lesbians who insist on having sex with only real women being ‘straightened out’ by trans women, with their ‘bits’.

Oh hold on – didn’t we used to call that homophobia, and even rape?

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 month ago

The ‘Gender’ Recognition Act should be abolished. It is a legal lie that was brought in as a compromise because there was opposition to same sex marriage. Same sex marriage is now legal, so there is now no valid reason for anyone to pretend to be the opposite sex in law.
Both the GRA and the ‘Undergoing Gender Reassignment’ clause in the Equality Act (which is about the pre GRA process, not ‘gender identity’ as Stonewall asserts) are ‘bad law’ and should be removed from the statute book.
Mammals cannot change sex and it is absurd that we have laws that pretend that they can.

Patrick Butler
Patrick Butler
1 month ago

We couldn’t agree more with this comment that legal sex change must be abolished. Although Journalists like Joan Smith and Helen Joyce have been doing an excellent job of reporting on the negative consequences of allowing legal sex change, it’s high time to propose what is to be done. It seems clear to us that the general public absolutely must be brought into the debate. We also see the major barriers to public participation as insider language and lack of focus. Hence language and focus are the subjects of our memos (listed below) addressed to “Allies in opposing legal sex change.” The memos are available at Sex Change Law | Equality4Women
1) First Step: Eschew “The Master’s Tools” – His Words.
2) Second Step: Outlaw legal sex change!
3) Third step: Expose what the trans idea promises and what it imposes on everybody.
4) Fourth step: Please don’t say gender when you mean sex!
5) Reframe Legal-Sex-Change Trans Laws as Targets for Abolition Not Reform.
In her September blog essay #22, Helen Joyce concludes (wisely we think on a non-partisan, non-class basis): “In a democracy the quickest way to change policies is to influence the administration, legislature and voters.”
However, we would reword this conclusion to give it focus: “In a democracy the quickest way to change policies is to talk directly to voters and to use language everyone can understand.” For example, few voters would have any difficulty in answering questions like these: “Yes or no, should anyone be allowed to change the sex on their driver’s license?” Or “Yes or no, should anyone be allowed to change a child’s sex on school records?”

Daivid Barnsdale
Daivid Barnsdale
23 days ago

A legal fiction that was restricted to the small number who really needed it did not, in the main, cause problems is supported by a majority of the public. Rather than take a position that will seem as extreme as self-ID we need to modify the GRA to cover the specific problems it presented.

Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
1 month ago

I think Starmer craves some populist following and believes the tens of thousand likes on Twitter by transactivists are real. He’s such an embarrassment.

Maude Young
Maude Young
1 month ago

When the GR Bill was being debated Lord Filkin and Baroness Hollis were very clear that ‘misgendering’ would not be an issue:
Lord Filkin: “The noble Baroness also asked whether people who refuse to call a gender-changed man by the changed gender would be open to action. No, they would not, unless they had information about the person’s gender history in an official capacity and they disclosed it otherwise than is allowed for by Clause 21.” 
Baroness Hollis: “Clause 21 does not involve the criminalisation of activity that is purely in the private sphere. That would not be appropriate.”
Hansard 29 Jan 2004 House of Lords debate.
[Clause 21 became Section 22 in the final Act that passed in to law.]

David Giles
David Giles
1 month ago

So on the day we get rid of Liz Truss, we realise the man who is likely to be the next prime minister genuinely believes a woman has a p***s.

What a great country we’ve become.

(Seriously, you’ve held this back approval!? For using the same word you use in the article?!!!!)

Last edited 1 month ago by David Giles
Jeanie K
Jeanie K
1 month ago
Reply to  David Giles

It certainly seems that the “West” is now being run by w i erdos for w i erdos.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 month ago

If people are absolutely free to choose gender, then I demand be absolutely free to shape the noises that I produce with my vocal chords, e.g. ‘you are a transwoman’.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I will simply say, ‘You are a man’.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago

I would say a trans-identifying male. In my view, “transwoman” is an oxymoron.

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
1 month ago

LINO, the party of the woking class.

The author seems very concerned about “predatory men pretending to be women” (how common is it really?), but makes no mention of the damage being done to confused children by the medicalization of gender dysphoria.

Last edited 1 month ago by Ludwig van Earwig
Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 month ago

Having failed to deal with grooming and rape gangs in numerous UK cities during his tenure as head of the Crown Prosecution Service for political reasons, Starmer now tries to compensate by doubling down on the far easier task of bringing “non-crime hate criminals” to heel.

A B
A B
1 month ago

Agree wholeheartedly. Why are people not focusing on his past failures, which were substantial?

Helen catt
Helen catt
1 month ago

I’m terrified we will get a Labour Government. Their views on women are appalling. I feel like at the prequel to Handmaids Tale.

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
1 month ago

Talking of hate crime. I wish politicians would stop using words like hate and despise in their speeches. We’ve had Nichola Sturgeon saying she ‘despises’ the Tories. We’ve had similar from Angela Rayner. It seems to be something confined to the left. Every time they say something like that it makes it appear acceptable to ‘hate’ anyone you don’t agree with. Then we get the kind of abuse that demonstrators were handing out at the Conservative Party Conference.
It is wrong that a politician can say she despises a party but that is not a hate crime but someone who simply states the view that someone’s gender cannot change is a hate crime. Politicians should moderate their language.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Elliott
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 month ago

Starmer is a weak man who is terrified of attracting the ire of parasitic middle class ‘progressives’. Calling it the ‘Labour Party’ is a calculated insult to anyone who ever went out to do a real day’s work.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
1 month ago

People generally don’t know that the transgender populace is .003% of the whole. Activists and their pals in the media would lead you to believe it’s somewhere between 15% and 25%.

ms. leonora
ms. leonora
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

0.003% would be 3 out of every 10,000 people, which i don’t think is what you mean?

Did you mean the multiplier 0.003, meaning 0.3%?
(in the same way 50% corresponds to the multiplier 0.5)

Beverley S
Beverley S
1 month ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

.003% of 68 million would be just over 2,000. The trans population in the UK is small … but not that small!
Estimates from the Gov in 2020 (and we have no official stats) are that it is between 200,000 and 500,000. So it’s probably more like around 0.5%.
A 2020 survey did find that 15.9% of Gen Z respondents (aged 18-23) said they were “LGBT+” so that’s probably the figure that gets mentioned in some sections of the media.

Galvatron Stephens
Galvatron Stephens
1 month ago

Oh well. It’s feminism’s fault anyway. You all told us womanhood was entirely socially constructed, had zero relation to biology and that anyone who disagreed was a sexist.

Gender ideology is just feminism being held to its own claims.

ms. leonora
ms. leonora
1 month ago

Womanhood IS socially constructed. For proof, you needn’t look beyond the fact that there is rarely any substantive agreement on exactly where lies the boundary between “girlhood” and “Womanhood”.

Do you have any quotes from actual feminists to support that wild and very obviously false assertion about “zero relation to biology”?
To say the very least i’m skeptical. Feminism is fundamentally about addressing inequity and oppression of Women as A SEX CLASS, where the fundamental basis for most of the systematic oppression is Female biology (especially the fact that Women are the ones who get pregnant).

The intrepid few whom i’ve seen actually try to trot out quotes to support this abject nonsense have all come up with, say, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman” (Simone de Beauvoir),
But this quote is very obviously NOT biological sex denialism. Reading just a few pages into the chapter where de Beauvoir makes this statement would clarify this repeatedly—and besides, it’s just common sense that she is talking about the systemic impact of Female socialization.

Anyone trotting out the above quote from de Beauvoir (which, also remember, is a translation from the original French) and claiming it as denying biological sex either /1/ is outrageously stupid AND aggressively antisocial, or else /2/ has simply made up their mind already, and is now just googling feminist authors for context-free quotes to misappropriate as support.

On the other hand, if you really do have a quote or two up your sleeve from a purported feminist who, in plain literal seriousness, actually writes Female biology off as irrelevant… please do go right ahead.

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
1 month ago
Reply to  ms. leonora

Please show me the evidence of “inequity and oppression of Women as A SEX CLASS”, in the West.

Emre S
Emre S
1 month ago

There’s a laundry list of things given as answer to this question. In my view Mary Harrington does the best job in exploring this topic.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago
Reply to  Emre S

They were asking to be shown the evidence.

Emre S
Emre S
1 month ago

And there lies the problem. It’s easily possible to show evidence in a Marxist (moral) frame of reference. But I suspect, that’s not what he’s really after.

Lisa Letendre
Lisa Letendre
1 month ago

You think sexism is piffle and that predatory men are a rarity.

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
1 month ago
Reply to  Lisa Letendre

Your words Lisa, not mine. I asked “how common are predatory men who pretend to be women?”

Will Rolf
Will Rolf
1 month ago
Reply to  ms. leonora

Any discussion of the origins of Gender Studies will link it to its roots in Feminist Theory. A quick read of anything from Judith Butler or bell hooks will all the quotes you need to understand the feminist roots of Gender Theory. “Gender reality is performative which means, quite simply, that it is real only to the extent that it is performed.”

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 month ago
Reply to  Will Rolf

What are bell hooks? Hooks for bells?

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
1 month ago
Reply to  ms. leonora

“The fundamental basis for most of the systematic oppression of women as a SEX CLASS….is the fact that women are the ones who get pregnant.”
Am I to understand that pregnancy has been used by the patriarchy as a means to oppress women with the pain and suffering of giving birth? Please educate me.

Last edited 1 month ago by Douglas McNeish
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago
Reply to  ms. leonora

Womanhood IS socially constructed.
Since this is about the precision of information, perhaps it might be apropos to at least define the meaning of “womanhood” used here?
For example, google has the state or condition of being a woman, that is, the qualities considered to be natural to or characteristic of a woman.
This seems to me to be not within the boundary of social construction, that is, the qualities (whatever they are) are natural to or characteristic of a woman. I take this to mean biological and immutable.
Perhaps this, then, is @Galvatron Stephens’s usage of “womanhood”? It would make their … womanhood was entirely socially constructed, had zero relation to biology … understandable since they seem to be using a different meaning of “womanhood” to the one that was taken and criticised.

ms. leonora
ms. leonora
1 month ago

The point made repeatedly by, especially, second-wave feminists is that GENDER—the collection of expectations, prejudices, biases, and stereotypes that a given cultural niche imposed upon each sex class—is socially constructed,

Gender (which is, again, a grab-bag of expectations, prejudices, biases, and stereotypes) refers roughly to the aggregate of what a given cultural milieu classifies as the combined mass of “femininity” or “masculinity”, together with all that is “traditional” and/or strongly enforced for each sex by unwritten/soft incentives and penalties.
I don’t think it should be controversial to anyone that THESE things are not only socially constructed, but also collectively imposed, reinforced, and, where applicable, enforced by ••other people.

On the opposite side of the distinction lies biological sex.

“Womanhood” lies in the middle, allowing one to opportunistically grab handfuls of ideas from both sides of the fence as needed or wanted in a conversation. This makes possible decent conversations that needn’t comprise 90% pedantic nitpicking of words, but, it also requires that both/all parties to a conversation follow one another’s context clues in good faith.

I replied to a poster who mistook the above basic principle of common to feminism and basic common sense (that gender, AKA all the miscellaneous things that people have painted onto the sexes over the centuries, has been constructed by those who have constructed it) to mean that gender AND SEX were equally malleable creations of the collective imagination. This is fundamentally wrong for sex but not for gender, so i addressed the part that needed addressing.

It’s also my feet-on-the-ground experience that “womanhood”, as used by ordinary English speakers, refers much more to the gender (constructed) part than to the biological part.
Whether this reflects actual priority weights of the relative core values, or just the fact that most people are less capable of talking about sexed biology (on account of not knowing facts) and less interested in talking about it even if they are so capable (because, well, facts… don’t make for great dialogue), i can’t say.
But, as more evidence that this is so, consider that cattle farmers NEVER talk about “cowhood” or “bullhood”—which supports my conclusion that “_____hood” is about gender, which does not (as far as i know ahaha) constrain the lives of livestock animals.

Christine Hankinson
Christine Hankinson
1 month ago

feminists fought against sexual stereotypes, that are so harmful to both sexes, and for economic equality. Shocking how angry and self entitled men are.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago

This is lazy language that does a disservice to your observation.
Men, are not angry and self entitled. Some men are as some women are. Implicating an entire class, in these negative behaviours based on its immutable characteristic of being male, is prejudice.

Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 month ago

Nonsense. ‘Gender’ is socially constructed. Being female is biological. Women and girls are discriminated against and abused because they are female, not because they think they are. That is what feminists are fighting.
People like you believe that women should be passive and wear dresses. ‘Gender’ cult believers think that anyone who is passive and wears a dress is a woman. There is nothing to choose between you and we feminists, who know that a woman is a female human being however she dresses or behaves, are opposed to you both.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago

But @Galvatron Stephens said gender ideology. Not ‘gender’ per se. They are talking about the ideology of gender and in their opinion its impact on feminism.
I am at a loss as to where in their comment did they mention anything about women should be be passive and wear dresses. And how do you know what they believe?

Ludwig van Earwig
Ludwig van Earwig
1 month ago

Caroline, instead of mind reading, how about you show us the evidence that women are discriminated against in the West?

Emre S
Emre S
1 month ago

For what it’s worth I’m pretty sure transwomen (at least in the way this was understood few years back) get as bad if not worse abuse than women, so there is a weakness in your argument there.

John Solomon
John Solomon
1 month ago
Reply to  Emre S

You might well be right, but I am willing to bet that any such abuse might be as bad, but it is for different reasons.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
1 month ago

The word “gender” when applied to humans has outlived its usefulness, and is now a destructive battleground. If we used only the word “sex”.,the world would be a better place.

Daivid Barnsdale
Daivid Barnsdale
23 days ago

When the full extent of what has happened to detrasitioners, Labour will need to drop Starmer and choose someone with credibility on this. That is Rosie Duffield.

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 month ago

Meh, still not voting Tory to keep this lot out. Feminists sowed, let them reap.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

But are you conflating “feminists” with all women? Or are you spiting all women to cut off the feminists?