Keir Starmer’s betrayal of Rosie Duffield

He has allowed the gender-critical Labour MP to be hounded into hiding.

Lauren Smith

Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

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Labour’s Rosie Duffield is sadly no stranger to hate campaigns. In the past few years, the MP for Canterbury and Whitstable has been put through numerous internal investigations by her party, heckled in parliament, hounded out of Labour’s party conference and forced to spend thousands of pounds on personal security. At the weekend, she revealed that she will not be able to attend local hustings in the run-up to the General Election because she fears for her safety.

So what exactly is Rosie Duffield supposed to have done to attract all of this vitriol? What exactly has made this backbench Labour MP such a notorious pariah on the left? Well, Duffield’s only great ‘crime’ is that she believes in biological sex. She does not accept that women’s single-sex spaces should throw open their doors to any man who identifies as a woman. Nor does she believe that children should be automatically affirmed when they claim to be the opposite sex.

The abuse against Duffield has continued, even as many of her positions have been vindicated. Perhaps more shocking than the abuse itself has been the response from within the Labour Party. You might think that Duffield’s colleagues would jump to her support and unequivocally condemn the threats being constantly levelled at one of their own. Not so, apparently.

Labour peer Michael Cashman, former EastEnders actor and co-founder of Stonewall, actually mocked Duffield over the weekend after she said she feared for her safety. In a now-deleted post on X, he called her ‘frit or lazy’ for dropping out of her local hustings. He later ‘apologised unreservedly’, but failed to mention Duffield by name when doing so.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has at least come to Duffield’s defence in recent days, calling her treatment ‘intolerable and unacceptable’. But a much stronger condemnation came from Conservative equalities secretary Kemi Badenoch, who wrote on X: ‘I can’t imagine what it’s like being Rosie in a party where her own colleagues continually attack her, just for standing up for women.’ It is telling that Duffield seems to get more full-throated support from her party-political opponents than she does from within her own party.

Perhaps most egregious of all has been the complete silence of Labour leader Keir Starmer. Although he is surely well aware of the threats and abuse Duffield receives, he has said precious little in her defence over the years. Worse still, Starmer has actively thrown her under the bus. He has often appeared to blame her and other gender-critical voices for the supposed ‘toxicity’ surrounding the trans debate.

Back in April, we saw him squirm spectacularly when questioned on ITV’s Good Morning Britain about his past comments on gender, following the landmark (and damning) Cass Review. He had previously said it was ‘wrong’ for Duffield to say that only women have a cervix – a biologically correct statement. Starmer tried to claim that it was not the accuracy of the comments that he disagreed with, but rather the ‘toxic conversation’ surrounding them. When asked multiple times by presenter Susanna Reid whether he would apologise to Duffield, he refused.

Starmer also told GMB that he and Duffield ‘get on very well’ and regularly ‘discuss a number of issues’. This was news to Duffield. She said the pair hadn’t spoken in two-and-a-half years. In a recent article for the Daily Mail, she claims she ‘practically begged’ Starmer for support, but was ignored.

Starmer might be keen to put Duffield’s appalling treatment behind him, but she won’t be able to forget it any time soon. Just this month, a trans activist named Glenn Mullen was convicted for sending death threats to her, as well as to Harry Potter author JK Rowling. In 2023, Mullen posted audio clips to X saying that he was ‘going to see Rosie Duffield at the bar with a big gun’.

Starmer has been beyond cowardly in his refusal to address and condemn Duffield’s appalling treatment. He has stood by in silence as a set of loud and nasty trans activists both online and within Labour have bullied and harassed her to within an inch of leaving the party. Just imagine the almighty uproar there would have been if it were a pro-trans MP who felt compelled to cancel events due to fears for his or her safety?

It seems Keir Starmer would rather throw Rosie Duffield to the wolves than stand up to the bullying trans activists within Labour’s ranks. As a gender-critical feminist, Duffield is apparently undeserving of civility, decency or solidarity. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Lauren Smith is a staff writer at spiked.

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Topics Identity Politics Politics UK


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