Friday, 21 February 2020

We like you, Lisa Nandy, so why are you throwing women under a bus?

Image result for lisa nandy imagesCurrent Labour leadership campaign status: both cautiously encouraging, and flat-out disappointing.

Encouraging, because the nominations stage is making it look like the far left – in the shape of Burgon, Butler and Long-Bailey might finally, finally be on the back foot (that said, the actual vote for leader is likely to be far tighter and no-one should be complacent).

Disappointing, because for any moderates, there is actually no candidate at all aligning with their views. The choice is soft left, or hard left. That’s it.

And all are playing, to a greater or lesser extent, to the Momentumite gallery. Perhaps foolishly, given the occurrence of members of new members joining to oppose Continuity Corbynism and who are now crushed to see all candidates espousing dumb policies (not that policies will even matter for the next year or two, as the party tries to rebuild).

And then there is the debate on trans rights.

Let’s get one thing perfectly straight. No-one, on any wing of the party – or at least, practically no-one – is anti-trans. This is the gay-friendly, lesbian-friendly, every-orientation-party par excellence.

The issue most people are concerned about is a simple and specific one, and it is this.

Self-id, in any sphere of life where privileges are conferred by the attribute you are self-id-ing, is clearly open to abuse. It is obvious that pathological cases can falsely id themselves as having that attribute and claim the privilege. And it is happening right now with trans self-id.

So, women’s sport is being disrupted by suddenly having disingenuous people with male bodies competing against women and, surprisingly, winning everything. And a small but pathological minority of trans women with male bodies are predatorially invading women’s toilets and changing rooms, molesting or even raping them.

It. Is. Happening.

It is what economists call “moral hazard”, and anyone who has ever run an organisation or a large project understands that. You should never allow this type of moral hazard: at best, it is merely unworkable and, at worst, highly damaging to that organisation or people in it. Relatively few, of course, will abuse the system, but the only way to protect against that abuse is to disallow the moral hazard – in this case, self-id.

This, patently, has nothing to do with one’s feelings on trans, non-binary and so on. It is not treating people as second-class citizens. It is protecting women, end of.

And then we come to the Labour leadership election.

The cult of the modern left not only feels it needs to forcefully rebut this common-sense argument – because, y’know, thin end of the wedge and all – but aggressively pursues those who advance it with insults, social media pile-ons and general, bullying behaviour.

Three leadership candidates – Long-Bailey, Thornberry and Nandy – have voiced support for the Trans Rights Charter, a list of twelve pledges that are at best, bonkers and at worst, horrifically damaging, both to the cause of trans people and the rights of women in general to privacy and safe spaces (Starmer has signed up to a more general pledge card from LGBT+ Labour, but that too endorses self-id, although it is clearly not as radical as the other).

Among these twelve pledges are not only self-id but calling Women’s Place UK, an organisation full of decent women concerned about safe spaces, “transphobic”, a slur which would be libellous, were it directed at a single person. All the while not actually defining what “transphobic” means, signifying that the word can be used as a catch-all smear, to isolate and expel any member who disagrees with this disturbing set of pledges.

Other supporters of this radical agenda are frequently to be seen on Twitter and other social media, using the word “TERF” (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) as a term of abuse against non-trans women who dare to cross them. Which is, essentially, hate speech.

How Labour ended up here is simply yet another outcome of the last four years of Corbynite nonsense, but the painfully divisive nature of this issue has wider implications for both Labour and society in general.

Not to mention the optics of this in the country, where Nandy’s assertion that trans rapists belong in women’s prisons contribute to the perception of a leadership campaign, for a prospective party of government, descending into farce.

Lisa, we like you. You are decent. You are clever and articulate, and clearly have a bright future ahead of you. You interviewed brilliantly with Andrew Neil, Britain’s toughest interviewer. Many of us want to believe that this was an aberration.

And we also want to think that, perhaps through inexperience or perhaps through naiveté, you genuinely cannot see that this cannot work and is furthermore a social bad, not a social good, which is likely to set the legitimate trans cause back decades.

Trans is not “the new gay rights”: the two paradigms are not remotely comparable, because gay rights never risked this moral hazard, did it? You will note that there is no legal measure which depends upon someone “proving” that they are gay or lesbian, because you cannot. So why would you introduce a self-defined, legal status for trans which cannot be legally tested or proven, either? And which is clearly open to abuse?

I, and many others who do not share some of your soft-left worldview, were thinking very seriously about giving you first preference. But now we cannot, and you have to understand why: the terrible, unworkable and divisive nature of what you have just signed up to.

In particular, as a woman MP, it should concern you greatly to know that an awful lot of these people giving up on you are women, who feel strongly that you have just thrown them under the bus.

Please – reflect on your support for this measure. Yes, you should support the vast majority of decent trans people and trans activists – but not this small, nutty brigade of sociopaths and haters, who happen to have the loudest voices and have grabbed control of the agenda.

Most jarringly still, they are representative of precisely the kind of extremist, malign forces you have convincingly pledged to drive from this party.

In short: you can credibly hold one or the other position: you cannot have both.

This post first published at Labour Uncut

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