Rosie Duffield should spend more time in her constituency, says aide

Senior aide to Sir Keir Starmer says MP Rosie Duffield should spend less time ‘hanging out with JK Rowling’ and more time in her constituency following Commons trans row

  • Rosie Duffield said that being in Labour feels like an ‘abusive relationship’
  • The Canterbury MP attended a lunch organised by the writer last April 

The row over Labour’s ‘woman problem’ intensified last night over claims that the party’s high command had made derogatory remarks about an MP who was ‘shouted down’ in the Commons over her views on trans issues.

This newspaper has been told that a senior aide to Sir Keir Starmer said ‘it would be nice’ if Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield ‘spent a bit more time’ in her constituency, rather than ‘hanging out with JK Rowling’.

The Harry Potter author has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, including the need to protect single-sex spaces.

Ms Duffield has said that being in the Labour Party feels like being in an ‘abusive relationship’ after a tumultuous Commons session was followed by ‘silence’ from Sir Keir.

It was told that a senior aide to Sir Keir Starmer said ‘it would be nice’ if Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield ‘spent a bit more time’ in her constituency, rather than ‘hanging out with JK Rowling’

The aide – who denies being critical of Ms Duffield – is said to have suggested the MP associates too much with Ms Rowling.

The writer organised a lunch at the River Cafe, an exclusive Michelin-star restaurant in West London, last April for women’s rights campaigners – including Ms Duffield – who have been accused of holding ‘transphobic’ or ‘gender critical’ beliefs.

The event followed the launch of a women’s rights campaign called ‘Respect My Sex if you want my X’, which ‘encourages voters to ask politicians for their views on sex and gender identity’. Ms Rowling later published a picture of her posing with Ms Duffield on Twitter, with the caption: ‘Two ex-single mums now united for women’s rights.’

Ms Duffield has said that being in the Labour Party feels like being in an ‘abusive relationship’ after a tumultuous Commons session

Last night, Ms Duffield said in response to the alleged comments: ‘I’m in Canterbury every week. It’s where I live and work. But I’m not aware Keir’s been down here, or that any of his team have ever been down here.

‘If they’d like to come and visit they’d be very welcome. But to be honest, I’m not sure they even know where Canterbury is.’

Last week, the 51-year-old MP was heckled in the Commons by male Labour backbenchers as she welcomed the Government’s move to block a Scottish law that would allow people to change their legal sex from the age of 16 without a medical certificate or long waiting period.

Campaigners have warned that such a law would have a huge impact on women’s rights and single-sex spaces.

After the debate, Ms Duffield warned that Labour risked appearing ‘sexist’, saying: ‘Every day, survivors of domestic violence still message me, telling me not to stop. Keir may dismiss this as a culture war issue, but for these women, it is most definitely not.

After Ms Duffield  was ‘shouted down’ in the Commons over her views on trans issues, it was followed by ‘silence’ from Sir Keir

‘And I know I’m not the only MP in the party who thinks this – I’m just the only one who feels I have nothing to lose by speaking out.’

She added: ‘One of the traits of being in an abusive relationship is “stonewalling”. The abuser will go quiet for days on end. They will stew, not speak to you, turn their back on you.

‘Trust me when I say I don’t take this lightly: but what I feel now, after six years of being cold-shouldered by the Labour Party, conjures memories of how I felt in that abusive relationship. When I come home at night, I feel low-level trauma at my political isolation.’

Last night, the Labour aide said that he had always respected Ms Duffield’s right to speak out on trans issues.

Protestors who want women ‘decapitated’ 

BY GEORGIA EDKINS SCOTTISH POLITICAL EDITOR 

JK Rowling last night led the condemnation of politicians who stood with protesters calling for women’s rights campaigners to be ‘decapitated’.

The shocking placards were brandished at a demonstration in Glasgow in support of Scottish plans to allow anyone 16 or over to change their sex at will, without the need for a medical diagnosis.

The Harry Potter author tweeted pictures of campaigners brandishing the offensive signs. One said ‘decapitate Terfs’ alongside a drawing of a guillotine, and another read, ‘I eat Terfs’.

JK Rowling last night led the condemnation of politicians who stood with protesters calling for women’s rights campaigners to be ‘decapitated’

The acronym, standing for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’, is used as a term of abuse by trans activists.

Rowling said of the images: ‘A few of Scotland’s wonderfully progressive and kind politicians, posing proudly in front of banners calling for women to be decapitated and eaten.’

The protest comes after Westminster blocked the gender reform bill passed in Holyrood and championed by Nicola Sturgeon’s ruling Scottish National Party. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack claimed it would damage equality laws that apply across the whole of the UK.

SNP MPs Alison Thewliss and Kirsten Oswald, and Kaukab Stewart, a member of the Scottish Parliament, were pictured in front of the banners.

Tory MP Jonathan Gullis said: ‘SNP politicians may say they were unaware of these horrific signs at this protest.

The Harry Potter author has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, including the need to protect single-sex spaces

‘But whether they like it or not, SNP politicians have effectively aligned themselves with hate-filled campaigners like this. These idiots inciting such horrific violence are clearly not interested in any form of normal debate.’

And women’s rights campaigner Maya Forstater said: ‘This protest advocating for the most extreme violence against women is shocking.

‘I have never seen a women’s rights protest with threatening signs like this, yet we are told to “be kind”.’

In response, an SNP spokesman said the politicians were making a stand for the rights of trans people, but added: ‘Violent or hateful language – of any kind – is unacceptable and has no place in the peaceful movement for LGBT equality.’

Ms Stewart said on Twitter: ‘I was not aware of these hateful signs when I attended today’s protest in defence of Scottish democracy and the rights of trans people, and I utterly disagree with them.’

And Ms Oswald said: ‘That’s a horrific sign, and it wasn’t there when I joined the demo. It most certainly doesn’t represent my views, and isn’t language I would ever use.’

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