Labour’s woman problem: MP Rosie Duffield reveals she suffers ‘low-level trauma’ at her political isolation after being shouted down by her own colleagues in a Commons trans debate
A Labour MP has declared her party has a ‘woman problem’.
Rosie Duffield spoke out yesterday after she was jeered by male colleagues in the Commons and then shunned by party leaders.
She said it felt as if she was in an ‘abusive relationship’. And in a blow to Sir Keir Starmer‘s hopes of becoming prime minister, the 51-year-old admitted she would struggle to convince voters that Labour was not sexist.
Senior Tories claimed the damning assessment exposed the lack of equality in a party that has never had a female leader.
Rosie Duffield (above) spoke out yesterday after she was jeered by male colleagues in the Commons and then shunned by party leaders
Rosie said it felt as if she was in an ‘abusive relationship’. And in a blow to Sir Keir Starmer’s hopes of becoming prime minister, the 51-year-old admitted she would struggle to convince voters that Labour was not sexist
Former minister Nadine Dorries said: ‘It parades as a party of equality and opportunity but is in fact, as witnessed by the Labour MPs including Starmer who supported Corbyn at the last election, anything but.’
Fellow Conservative MP Miriam Cates, who was subjected to insults and intimidation by a male Labour MP this week after she spoke up for women’s safety, said: ‘I regularly receive emails from women who used to vote Labour but now say that they can no longer support the Labour Party because of their stance on women’s rights.’
The controversy came as a survey from pollsters Redfield & Wilton showed that 45 per cent of Britons disagree with Labour’s backing for Scotland’s radical gender reforms that would give boys the right to attend girls’ schools. Just 28 per cent support the move.
In another damaging development, video evidence emerged showing three Labour backbenchers were at a protest when a transgender ex-prisoner told of her violent past and said she wanted to get into Parliament and give out drugs.
Ms Duffield has long been Labour’s most outspoken defender of women’s rights and a very vocal critic of ‘woke’ gender ideology.
Former minister Nadine Dorries (above) said: ‘It parades as a party of equality and opportunity but is in fact, as witnessed by the Labour MPs including Starmer who supported Corbyn at the last election, anything but’
She was forced to miss the party’s conference in 2021 because of online threats to her safety. This was an echo of former Labour MP Luciana Berger being given police protection from anti-Semitic activists.
But Ms Duffield, who represents Canterbury, upped her criticism in response to ‘aggression’ she received this week from fellow MPs in the Commons chamber. It came in a heartfelt article for the Unherd website, called ‘The Labour Party has a woman problem’.
She said she was ‘defending the need to protect vulnerable women in single-sex spaces’ during a heated debate about Scotland’s Gender Reform Bill, which would have given 16-year-olds the right to change sex but is being blocked by ministers for fear of its impact across the UK.
Ms Duffield said veteran Labour MP Ben Bradshaw ‘yelled his disapproval at me’ and then his colleague Lloyd Russell-Moyle ‘started to heckle every woman who spoke of their similar concerns’.
She said Mr Russell-Moyle, who stood next to transgender former prisoner Sarah-Jane Baker at this week’s Downing Street demonstration but later insisted he knew nothing of her violent past, then moved to sit near another female MP and stared at her in an intimidating way. She said his later admission that he ‘failed to control his passion’ reminded her of the victim-blaming tactic used by her abusive ex.
She wrote: ‘Look what you made me do’, as my ex-partner would say when I had caused him to explode. Perhaps by doing or wearing something he didn’t entirely like or voicing an opinion he didn’t want to hear.’
She also wrote: ‘When I come home at night I feel low-level trauma at my political isolation.’
Ms Duffield said veteran Labour MP Ben Bradshaw (above) ‘yelled his disapproval at me’ and then his colleague Lloyd Russell-Moyle ‘started to heckle every woman who spoke of their similar concerns’
Her article was met by silence from Sir Keir’s office, while party whips got in touch only to chastise her for missing a meeting.
Ms Duffield insisted she was not the only Labour MP who believed men could not become women, but that the others dared not say so because they do not want to be treated like her.
The party’s general secretary, David Evans, has attended only a handful of Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party meetings, Ms Duffield said, whereas his predecessor Jennie Formby went to every one, even while having chemotherapy.
One insider said there was now an effort to make sure Sir Keir did not adopt divisive policies such as gender self-identification.
‘There are a growing group of us who are raising concerns with the leadership,’ said the source.
Ms Duffield’s article was shared on Twitter by JK Rowling, while former mayoral adviser and Labour member Joan Smith said: ‘Those of us who have tried to engage with Keir Starmer about defending women’s rights know exactly what she’s talking about.’
A Labour source insisted: ‘There are various channels always open to any of our MPs and regular efforts to reach out.’