Labour conferences have been fractious affairs in recent years. Tensions between various factions have often spilled over onto the conference floor, with the Corbyn era being particularly notable for the divides between Labour’s membership and parliamentary party. A particular low point was Luciana Berger being required to have a police bodyguard at the 2018 conference after threats were made against her.
New leader Keir Starmer is keen to show such acrimony is a thing of the past. This year’s Brighton jamboree is set to begin in a fortnight’s time and is being billed as the Labour leader’s first big in-person test to an audience of the faithful. Elected in April 2020, Starmer will be hoping his initial year and a half leading his party will be enough to ensure a standing ovation.
One person who won’t be in that audience however is the MP for Canterbury Rosie Duffield. A poster girl for Labour’s surprise successes in the 2017 election, Duffield has attracted both praise and opprobrium for her views on transgender issues. Back in August last year, LGBT+ Labour demanded Starmer ‘take action’ against Duffield after she wrote on Twitter that ‘only women have a cervix.’
More rows have followed since, with a member of Duffield’s staff resigning over what they called her ‘openly transphobic’ views and LGBT+ Labour criticising her Twitter activity. For her part, Duffield has insisted that she continues to support to trans rights and believes that ‘people have the right to live with dignity and be treated with respect in an equal and inclusive society.’
But Steerpike understands that Duffield will be missing her own party’s conference over concerns about the threat to her personal security. It comes just a day after the MP complained on Twitter about the ‘mostly male aggression and verbal abuse’ which ‘has resulted in changes to my personal safety and security arrangements.’
Let’s hope Starmer is able to ensure his own MPs are safe at next year’s party conference.<//>
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