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Tom Harris

(8 Posts)
Triliteration Tue 13-Mar-18 06:47:37

I think Tom Harris May have had a report in the premium section of the Telegraph yesterday about the Labour Party and women, but I’m unable to refind his tweet about it. He mentioned donning his hard hat.

He retweeted the petition this morning, so I’m fairly sure I have the right person. Anyway, I have to go to work, but if anyone has the Telegraph online, might be worth a look.

And if I’ve missed a thread on this, apologies.

YimminiYoudar Tue 13-Mar-18 06:53:00

I've found an article here but it's from last Thursday. I'm not a subscriber so can only see the first few sentences but it looks interesting.

SwearyG Tue 13-Mar-18 07:57:54

Radical transgender politics are being imposed on Labour's women with no debate and no mercy

An International Women’s Day confession: I didn’t support All-Women Shortlists (AWSs) when Labour first introduced them under the leadership of John Smith. I believed them to be undemocratic and unfair. And then I had a conversation with the wonderful Lorna Fitzsimons, the then Labour MP for Rochdale.

We were sitting in the Commons tea room while, just along the corridor, in the main chamber, the legislation making AWSs legal was being debated. There would be no vote, because by then any opposition in principle had been rebranded as misogyny. Parliamentary careers have been lost for much less. So the many colleagues who I knew shared my reservations did what I did: said nothing and waited for the whips to tell us when we could go home.

But Lorna that night just about changed my mind, or at least gave me new perspectives on the issue. She didn’t berate me for my views, she simply asked me to explain them. Then she offered her own arguments, the most powerful of which – and this was one I had not previously considered – was that where a “favoured son” in a local party was known to be excluded from standing as a candidate, then talented, able women who otherwise might not have considered standing would throw their hats in the ring. It was less about excluding men than broadening the potential talent pool.

And so it has proved, despite my reservations. So many female Labour MPs have put their male colleagues to shame with their contributions to public life since an AWS illuminated their paths to the green benches of the Commons.

So if I wasn’t a full convert, I could at least appreciate anew the opposing argument’s strengths.

It’s tempting to conclude that Labour is embarking on a new national conversation, this time about whether or not trans women – particularly those who remain male in all biological senses but who self-identify as women – should be allowed to stand as a candidate in seats reserved exclusively for women. But such a debate is not taking place. At all.

The rules have certainly changed, but the battle was won without a single shot being fired. Those who oppose this change have been told to shut up.

They have been abused, sometimes physically. They have been called names. Some have even been suspended from the Labour Party for expressing a view that is surely shared by much of the populace, namely that someone who still possesses every physical attribute of a man cannot, in any real sense, be described as a woman, however strongly she may feel that to be the case.

Having secured, after much difficulty and conflict, a historically high level of representation in the Commons, cisgender women are being told that someone who has lived most of her life as a man, with all the associated privilege such an existence bestows, who still has ownership and use of the male genitalia with which she was born, is as much a woman as someone who was born female, who has lived as a female and who has suffered for being a female.

And they are not being asked their views. They are being told that this is right and that if they disagree, they are wrong. The arrogance is astonishing and it is unacceptable.

The silence from many woman who will be affected by this rule change might lead us to believe that it has the whole-hearted support of Labour women. Maybe it does. It certainly has the support of columnist and Corbyn enthusiast Owen Jones, who tweeted gleefully yesterday that “anti-trans activists” had “overplayed their hands so much, they made Labour more pro-trans rights”. Oh, how the tears and anguish of those silly feminists with their years of campaigning for women’s rights must have delighted Owen in his triumph!

Labour cannot even accept that allowing trans women to stand on all-women shortlists is a controversial step. It may turn out to be the right one, just as the introduction of AWSs in the first place were controversial but, in the end, the right policy. But the party won’t even allow doubt to be expressed. If you oppose it, you’re wrong, you’re a bigot, you’re transphobic and you don’t belong in the Labour Party.

Yet of ourse it’s controversial – how could it possibly be anything else? And many, many women, both inside and outside the Labour Party are angry because they see a hard-won concession being compromised and devalued.

If I still opposed AWSs, I might support allowing trans women making use of them – all the better to undermine the very principle that underpins them and – who knows? – it might even lead to legal action that forces the party to abandon them altogether.

But that would be a shame: AWSs have done good and they will do more good before they are no longer needed. Trans women, if they wish to, should stand for parliament, just like everyone else, no one is preventing that. But they don’t need to use all-women shortlists to do so.

JellySlice Tue 13-Mar-18 08:10:38

Reasonable. Though I would tell him:

Do not use the offensive term 'cis'. 'Women' suffices. It is clear and accurate. 'Cis' panders to and validates the TIM misogyny.

Similarly, do not misgender people. To call someone who has lived most of her life as a man, with all the associated privilege such an existence bestows, who still has ownership and use of the male genitalia with which she was born, 'she' misgenders them. It also panders to and validates their misogyny.

ladyballs Tue 13-Mar-18 08:14:44

Excellent article, even with the points Jelly makes.

YimminiYoudar Tue 13-Mar-18 08:59:38

Thank you Sweary - yes that's an excellent article. I wish it wasn't behind a pay wall.

Triliteration Tue 13-Mar-18 16:15:29

Thanks Yimminy and Sweary.

Cis is indeed a pain, but I can ignore it. As Yimminy says, it’s a pity it’s behind a paywall.

The misgendering, though... I see the point of principle in refusing to misgender (and especially when threats are being made). But when someone is trying to reach a wider audience who are less clued up on the issues, I think it can be prudent to use the chosen pronouns. It sidesteps the immediate accusations of obvious terfhood and makes it harder to shout transphobic. Pick your battles, in essence.

JellySlice Tue 13-Mar-18 19:39:55


My problem with misgendering (actual misgendering, not the trans narrative Doublethink) is that I am willing to call a transsexual who genuinely attempts sisterhood with women 'she', but not a TIM whose objective is to claim 'womanhood' for himself and to dump 'ciswomanhood' on XX humans. Which appears to be the case for the majority of vocal TIMs.

But you're right, in the context of this article.

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