Labour’s Rosie Duffield revealed how her own party has been “quite content” to let her be “hounded and harassed non-stop” in the row over trans rights. A London-centric clique close to Sir Keir Starmer has left her “isolated” and she has relied on the “kindness” of Conservative MPs to make life in parliament bearable.
Ms Duffield has been the lightning rod for abuse in the party for years after speaking out about the importance of protecting women’s rights.
Talking about the toll it has taken on her, the mother of two said it was disappointing there had been an “absolute lack of support” from her colleagues during years of abuse.
And she told how it has been “pretty galling” that her views are not even listened to, let alone respected by the Labour leadership.
“There are many women MPs who agree with me and some men and very few of them have backed me up or defended me or spoken out about their own views and I find that increasingly disappointing,” she added.
“But also increasingly understandable as the toxic atmosphere gets worse and worse.”
Ms Duffield explained how a small group of people who are involved in campaign groups, such as LGBT Labour, hold a huge amount of power in the party as they have strong links to Sir Keir as well as the party’s ruling NEC.
She said the party had been “captured” by the group and there was a lack of interest at the top of the party in defending her.
“All of those people complain among themselves about me to try and get me taken out,” she said.
“They are the ones who also make the decision on those things.
“So I am very much isolated. It’s not just a perception. I am very isolated.”
Ms Duffield, who is a survivor of domestic abuse, has been accused of being transphobic for wanting to protect women only spaces, including refuges, changing rooms and hospital wards.
The former teaching assistant knows about the real life struggles faced by many voters and is the party’s only Kent MP.
But Ms Duffield said despite her ordinary background and long-standing campaigning on women’s issues the party did not have any respect for her views.
The backbencher said the groups that hold influence with the leadership are part of the “London bubble”.
She added: “I see colleague after colleague win a by-election and within say six weeks they have a front bench position and yet I can’t get my views not only respected but listened too.
“And after what I have been through in my personal life and having got here, it is pretty galling.
“It seems as though the party machine is quite content to let these groups hound and harass me non-stop within the party, behind the scenes and on social media because they are all so interlinked.
“I don’t think the public knows how nepotistic some political parties really are.”
Ms Duffield was elected in 2017 with a majority of 187 and held on to the seat in 2019 with an increased majority of 1,836.
She was forced to pull out of attending Labour’s annual conference two years ago after threats to her safety in the row over trans rights.
The MP first faced abuse for supporting a tweet saying only women have a cervix.
Sir Keir said the comments were “not right” while deputy Angela Rayner said remark was “deeply cringeworthy”.
Ms Duffield insisted she would not defect to the Conservatives as she has fundamental differences with the party on key issues.
But she told how she had experienced “immense kindness” from MPs across the House.
“They have just been really kind and made life a lot more enjoyable being here,” she added.
The Canterbury MP vowed to keep going and will stand again at the next election.
She said: “I don’t see why a handful of people in a very small clique should hound me out.”
Earlier this month, Sir Keir said he believes that 99.9 percent of women do not have a penis, suggesting he believes one in a thousand do.
Ms Duffield said the Labour leader must show that he is tackling the abuse she has faced if he wants the support of voters at the election.
She said: “What women have seen is the way I am treated.
“Women know the way I have been treated and the way that Miriam and I were heckled by Labour MPs and it doesn’t seem anything was done about that.
“I don’t feel any safer.”
Ms Duffield said she had received “no protection” from the groups hounding her or people speaking up for her.
“I think if women were to see that happening they would have a lot more trust that they and their families were safe under a Labour government.”
Conservative Miriam Cates said that while she had suffered as a result of speaking out, it has been “a lot worse for Rosie”.
Ms Cates said the “vast majority of my colleagues are supportive” which had made a big difference.
She said that it was “extraordinary how free speech has been limited” in the Labour party.
“Why can’t Rosie have a perfectly sensible view that is shared by the majority of the public and speak about it openly?” she added.
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