“I should have been the perfect Labour MP,” says Rosie Duffield in UnHerd. I was a single mum on benefits, earning under £10,000 as a teaching assistant; on my first day in parliament, I had to borrow money for the train fare. And I won my seat by turning “true blue” Canterbury red for the first time in history. At first, Labour’s “leading men” were excited: they plastered my face on all the big screens at the party conference; they bragged about my victory in their speeches. “Then I liked a tweet.”
It seemed so “innocuous”. In response to someone talking about “individuals with a cervix”, Piers Morgan had tweeted: “Do you mean women?” But that one “like” prompted a “tsunami of online vitriol, including calls for my job and even my life”. I responded by posting my own tweet asking why it was “transphobic” to say that only women have a cervix. “What happened next was a blur.” I received more threats; the Guardian columnist Owen Jones issued a “grovelling apology” for having attended my election rally; Labour student groups everywhere called for my sacking. I had plenty of supporters, too: I received more than 350 bunches of flowers in two days, and thousands of encouraging messages. “But from the Labour Party – silence.”
Now it’s worse than silence. At our most recent party conference, two Labour women’s groups were denied permission to host a stall. Karen Ingala Smith, who compiles a list of women killed in the UK each year, had her party membership rejected over a few “gender-critical joke tweets featuring kittens”. And in parliament this week, I was harangued by two of my colleagues for defending the need to maintain single-sex spaces. Does Labour have a “women problem”? At the next election, when my constituents inevitably ask whether Labour is sexist, I’m not sure I’ll be able to deny it.