Feminists turning to the Tories with Labour making ‘idiots of ourselves’ on women’s issues, Rosie Duffield says

It came after Yvette Cooper and Anneliese Dodds, two of Labour’s frontbench MPs, both declined to give a definition of a woman on International Women’s Day last month.

“We are basically making complete idiots of ourselves and there is no point pretending we are not,” Ms Duffield told The Telegraph. “It is horrible to have to criticise your own party over and over again. I have been trying for two years to have conversations privately and now I am speaking out. The public are having these conversations, it’s not just me saying ‘I want to embarrass the party’. We need to have an answer, it’s not going to go away.”

Ms Duffield, who won her seat from the Tories for the first time in a century at the 2017 election, said she “constantly” receives messages from female Labour activists who have found themselves “shouted down” at party meetings after voicing their views that sex and gender are not the same or that single sex spaces for women such as changing rooms should be preserved.

“A lot of women who go to Labour meetings are shouted down and told that their opinions are invalid. There is a loud minority shouting aggressively and there is no debate allowed,” she said.

Switching to the Tories

“I have spoken to second wave feminists who have been in the Labour party all of their lives, a tradition handed down from their parents. These are the women who revolutionised feminism after the suffragette movement, they are life long anti-Conservatives and the idea that they will abstain from voting or even vote Tory for the first time ever is desperately upsetting to them but they really do feel strongly about this.”

Ms Duffield said that women have been communicating with her in secret saying they “don’t know where to turn” as they feel Labour has turned its back on them.

“Don’t forget these aren’t just centrist women, they are Labour trade union women who have been councillors and activists for a really long time and supportive of the left of the party. They are the ones doubting where to put the cross”.

Ms Duffield made headlines last September when she revealed that she would not attend Labour’s party conference after online threats from trans activists.

She has previously accused the Labour leader of failing to do enough to stop a minority of local activists who have mounted a campaign of harassment against her.

How to define a woman

Her remarks come after the launch of a campaign ahead of the May elections to question politicians over their stance on gender politics and in particular, how they would define a woman.

Speaking to LBC’s Nick Ferrari during a phone-in last month, Sir Keir, the Labour leader, was asked multiple times whether or not “a woman can have a penis”.

“I don’t think that discussing this issue in this way helps anyone in the long run,” he said. “What I want to see is a reform of the law as it is, but I am also an advocate of safe spaces for women and I want to have a discussion that is… Anybody who genuinely wants to find a way through this, I want to discuss that with. I do find that too many people – in my view – retreat or hold a position of which is intolerant of others. And that’s not picking on any individual at all, but I don’t like intolerance, I like open discussion.”

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