JENNI MURRAY: Sir Keir is betraying the women Labour once fought for

JENNI MURRAY: Sir Keir is betraying the women Labour once fought for as we find ourselves harassed, insulted and called ‘transphobes’

Fine words were spoken by the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, at this week’s conference in Liverpool. ‘We must build a new Britain, together,’ he said, no doubt hoping to appeal to swing voters uneasy with the Conservatives’ handling of the economy.

But to me that ‘together’ mantra sounds rather hollow. A large number of British people — those of us who with unquestionable accuracy call ourselves women — worry deeply about the protection of our sex-based rights.

We find ourselves harassed, insulted and called ‘transphobes’ by the trans lobby and simply cannot trust politicians to hear our concerns and protect us from being silenced and forgotten.

Feminists such as me are utterly bewildered by Labour. Looking back, it has achieved so much for women — equal pay and laws against sex discrimination that made us feel we were no longer second-class citizens.

Keir Starmer pictured delivering his keynote address at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool on Tuesday

Now we learn that women who continue to fight for our own sex have not been welcomed to the party conference.

Two groups — Labour Women’s Declaration (LWD), an organisation that lobbies for women’s sex-based rights and single-sex spaces, and FiLiA, a women-led group which last year organised the biggest feminist conference in Europe in decades — asked for permission to exhibit at the Labour conference this week.

They were denied a position. Commercial reasons were cited. Groups have to pay for space for their stands. Both LWD and FiLiA said they would pay and could afford the price. Still, they were denied.

Taking a stand at the conference is important. Labour’s website says that ‘exhibiting at our conference is a unique opportunity to increase awareness of your aims and objectives to a wider audience and reach influential groups of people’.

Jenni Murray (pictured) writes: ‘A large number of British people — those of us who with unquestionable accuracy call ourselves women — worry deeply about the protection of our sex-based rights…’

All very well, apparently, if your campaign is focused on climate change or animal rights. But you’re clearly not so welcome if your aim is to champion women.

So why might the two feminist groups I’ve mentioned have been so unwelcome?

Last year, I travelled to speak at the big FiLiA conference held in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Women from all over the world were there to support each other in discussions about domestic violence, rape, murder and inequality, and exchange ideas about what might be done to make the world safer for so many who suffer.

Inside the hall we all felt safe. Not so outside. One of the now familiar groups of masked ‘trans allies’ was there. They intimidated us and demanded the crudest of sexual favours, making it plain that they may be dressed as women, but their body parts were defiantly male. Was the Labour leader afraid that such frightening, misogynistic lobbyists might gather in Liverpool?

Come on, Sir Keir. These issues are serious. And those who raise concerns about trans rights policies and their impact on women’s rights are not marginal — and they certainly aren’t all Tories. Many of them are Labour supporters, such as Joan Smith, the author and former adviser on violence against women and girls to the Mayor of London. She says Sir Keir hasn’t replied to letters and emails describing abuse faced by her and other women.

Anneliese Dodds, Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer pictured attending Pride in London earlier this year

Increasingly, women’s fears about their own safety and that of their children are shown to be justified.

Mermaids, a charity set up to support transgender children, now faces watchdog scrutiny after it was revealed that it offered chest binders to children as young as 14 behind their parents’ backs.

Binding the chest of young teenagers has been described by Dr Hilary Cass, employed to review services for trans children, as ‘painful and potentially harmful’.

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police said it was potential child abuse and, along with social services, it will investigate individual reported cases of children using chest binders.

Meanwhile, the fashion store Primark is reviewing its approach to unisex fitting rooms after the shopper Charlotte Kirby, 25, was left in tears after two men entered her changing room while she was trying on outfits at the weekend. Security guards at the Cambridge store told her it wasn’t the first time it had happened.

And earlier this week, the new Home Secretary Suella Braverman condemned Sussex Police for playing woke politics, after it said it would not tolerate ‘hateful comments’ about the gender identity of a convicted paedophile who identified as a woman. Sally Ann Dixon abused five girls and two boys aged between six and 15 from 1989 to 1996.

At the time of the assaults, Sally Ann was John Stephen Dixon, who transitioned in 2004. How were those offences committed by ‘a woman’?

From your own mouth, Sir Keir, we have heard the much-disputed trans mantra: ‘Trans women are women.’ Not for gender-critical feminists they aren’t.

No one wants trans women or trans men to be hurt or derided, but the correct phrase, based on biological science, is: ‘Trans women are trans women’.

It was bizarre to hear a highly intelligent former director of public prosecutions say he believed it was wrong to say ‘only women have a cervix’. What are we women to think when the Leader of the Opposition appears not to know what a woman is?

So many women I know who have consistently voted Labour for years, like Joan, tell me they now feel disenfranchised. They say they can’t vote for a leader who can’t answer the simple question: ‘What is a woman?’

Now is not the time to alienate women crying out for recognition of their sex.

Ellie, the brightest star on Strictly 

I urge everyone to tune in to Strictly for Ellie Simmonds. The Paralympian gold medal-winning swimmer, 27, who was born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism, admitted she felt ‘self-conscious’ wearing the costumes and that trolls had targeted her, but watching on Saturday night, her bravery and sunny personality shone through. What an inspiration.

Paralympian gold medal-winning swimmer Ellie Simmonds, 27, was born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism

  • Three cheers for Kayley Stead, all dolled up in her wedding dress, but no groom. The jilted bride from Swansea patched up the make-up, didn’t let the drink go to waste and had the party. Frankly, she is well out of that one. 

It’s a love match for Roger and Rafa

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal pictured emotional, holding hands, as they watched a video montage after their Men’s Doubles match

It was moving to see Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal holding hands and weeping after their defeat at the O2 Arena in London last week. It was Federer’s last professional match and the world’s greatest tennis player will be so missed.

These two men are tough, strong and deeply competitive, but unafraid to demonstrate their love for one another.

Why can’t more men show their emotions like this in public? We know they have them really.

No wonder Paris’s pooch ran away

Paris Hilton and her dog Diamond pictured attending the Alice and Olivia Presentation in New York City

I do feel so sorry for Paris Hilton, heartbroken at the loss of her tiny chihuahua, Diamond Baby.

I can’t help wondering, though, if the dog was fed up with designer clothes, Gucci toys, diamond collars, private planes and being carried around. Maybe she saw the door left open by the removal men and, in the absence of her mistress, thought, ‘Right, I’m off to just be a dog!’

I’m sure mine would run a mile if I treated them as dollies.

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