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October 11, 2022

Labour voters think trans women should be allowed to stand in all-women shortlists

In an exclusive poll, a majority of those who voted for the party in 2019 disagree with the Labour MP who opposes Eddie Izzard appearing on such a selection.

By Ben Walker

To woops and applause, the Labour MP for Canterbury Rosie Duffield said at a meeting during the Labour Party conference that Eddie Izzard, a comedian, is not a woman. She added that if Izzard, who is trans, is allowed to stand on an all-women shortlist (when only women are put forward for a constituency’s candidacy) she will leave the party.

“I am absolutely not the only Labour woman MP who will leave the party if Eddie Izzard gets on to an all-women shortlist,” she said.

The debate in British politics surrounding trans issues has been toxic, and repeatedly exploited for partisan gain in the hopes of motivating voters through the so-called culture wars. Labour politicians in particular, including the leader Keir Starmer, struggled earlier this year when questioned about the definition of a woman.

[See also: Inside Labour’s “clusterfuck” week on trans rights]

Duffield’s declaration on this issue could cause further difficulty for the party when it selects prospective MPs for the next general election. Labour is dropping all-women shortlists for Westminster seats to avoid breaching the Equality Act (a majority of its MPs are now women), but that isn’t to say the policy wouldn’t continue for some regional, devolved or council elections.

Labour voters, however, reject Duffield’s position.

By a margin of 61 per cent to 18 per cent, those who voted for Labour in the 2019 general election say a transgender woman should be allowed on a political party’s all-women shortlist, according to exclusive polling for the New Statesman by Redfield & Wilton Strategies*.

This statistic includes 60 per cent who have continued supporting the party since Keir Starmer became Labour leader. And both male and female Labour voters back the move, with women more likely to be supportive of trans women on all-women shortlists than men, at 64 to 57 per cent respectively.

Izzard hopes to be Labour’s candidate in Sheffield Central. The incumbent Labour MP for the seat, Paul Blomfield, has announced his intention to stand down at the next election.

*Polling of 2,500 voters in Britain who voted Labour in the 2019 general election, carried out on 28-29 September.

[See also: Judith Butler on "Roe vs Wade", trans rights and the war on education]

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