The Labour Party & Membership Data

Dear people whose job it is to collect & analyse personal data from the membership of the Labour Party,

Labour Women’s Declaration hopes you followed the court hearing on 9 March – Fair Play for Women versus Office for National Statistics – challenging the ONS guidance on how to fill in the sex question in the 2021 Census.  A full judicial review was due to take place this Thursday, 18 March, so that the case could be heard as a matter of priority before census day, but the judge made an interim order instructing the ONS to immediately remove the incorrect guidance on the sex question, saying he was satisfied the campaign group Fair Play for Women was “more likely than not to succeed” on its case regarding the legal definition of “sex”.

Today we can confirm that Fair Play for Women have indeed succeeded and that the ONS has conceded that the proper meaning of sex in the census means sex as recognised by law. The High Court has now ordered  that “What is your sex?” means sex “as recorded on a birth certificate or Gender Recognition Certificate”. The substantive hearing listed for 18 March is vacated and ONS will pay costs of both sides. This is a victory for the women’s movement, and all the women and organisations that got behind the Sex in the Census campaign to ensure women’s sex-based rights are upheld through accurate data collection, including Labour Women’s Declaration.

We were watching to see if there would be any reaction to all this from the Labour Party, since many of us have complained after discovering what you had done with our online membership details. The outcome in the census case demonstrates that collecting clear data on sex and gender identity should be the gold standard, as it gives organisations accurate information about respondents that is important to policy development.

Until a few days ago, members’ online membership cards used the phrase ‘gender identity’ which has now been altered again to ‘gender’. Many women members have been angry about this and have contacted us to say they have complained but received no response. We also note that this issue is being discussed in public forums such as MumsNet and Twitter. We question the right of the party to retrospectively change data given by members without any consultation or permission. 

Membership Details 05.03.2021
Membership Details 10.03.2021
Membership Details 10.03.2021

We would argue that unless a specific question on sex is asked, it is not possible to  know how many women members we have. This is also important in that by the provisions in the Equality Act, there is an equality duty which covers the protected characteristics. Sex is one of them, neither gender nor gender identity are such characteristics. It may also be useful to know how many members wish to identify as having a gender identity, but the way this form is currently phrased, it doesn’t give us that data either. The merging of sex and gender undermines the ability of our data collection systems to elicit the information we need to pursue the equalities agenda.

Membership Renewal Form
Request for Clarification

One member within our networks began emailing the Labour Party’s Equalities office on precisely this subject on 01.07.2019. Although she did manage to get some response within the thread of emails, her last email has as yet, eighteen months later, still not been answered. Redacted copy of her full correspondence can be found here. We are including the following excerpts because we believe the responses she received fully illustrate the confusion and lack of clarity coming from the Labour Party administrative staff on this very important aspect of data collection. To put it bluntly, no one seems able to explain what exactly is meant by the terms in use and how they are being used, let alone understand the impact on the data.

Taken from her communication with Labour Equalities, are the following excerpts beginning with a response she received 2 months after her original email enquiry.

Received from Labour Party: 02 September 2019 
Subject: RE: Monitoring & Data collection on Gender & Sex

Dear xxxxxxx

Thank you for your email dated 1 July and apologies for the delay in getting back to you.

I asked my colleague >>>>>> to provide the best response to the questions you raised in your email. Her response is below:

The “Gender” questions you refer to clearly refer to gender and gender identity so the Party continues to log data on gender/sex. Since around 2006 we have logged data on our membership systems for male, female and other (as well as unknown which is usually used where we have no data as an individual has not completed that part of the application form). All data previously captured has been retained and all new data is still inputted using those categories. During the Democracy LGBT activists said they did not want LGBT data captured on our systems.

I hope this answers your questions.

If you have any more questions further to this email, >>>>>> (CC) will respond when she returns from annual leave.

Best wishes

Head of Equalities, Stakeholders and Community Engagement

The Labour Party

Southside, 105 Victoria Street

London SW1E 6QT

Response to Labour Party: 09 September 2019 
Subject: RE: Monitoring & Data collection on Gender & Sex

Dear ~~~~~~,

Thank you for your reply.

The answers to some of my questions have become conflated, and some of my questions have been missed altogether.

So can I, perhaps, refer you back to my originating email to ****** of 1 July 2019? Could you please have a look at the preamble to my questions to better understand the context for them?

In the interests of clarity, and to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding or misrepresenting the Labour Party’s position on these important issues for women, I have attempted to translate your paragraph of answers into specifics under the six questions in my original email (in bold).

I have also attached a copy of the Gender question to which this Correspondence refers.

  1. What is meant here by ‘Gender’? Specifically, does it mean ‘Gender Identity’?

You reply that you understand gender to mean ‘gender and gender identity’. You then say that ‘the party continues to log data on gender/sex.’ You therefore imply that if somebody of the male sex self-identifies as a woman and ticks that box, that for statistical purposes, the Labour Party will count their sex as female.

2. If it does mean Gender Identity, why doesn’t it say so? Clear definitions are important, especially when we know that in some situations ‘Gender’ is used as a synonym for Sex.

You do not seem to have explained why it says Gender rather than Gender Identity. In many situations Gender is used as a synonym for Sex so this is, at best, misleading.

3. Previously, the Labour Party asked its members whether they were male or female. Is this new Gender question an additional question, or a replacement for the one aimed at determining sex?

You are saying that this is a replacement question for the one that was previously, and clearly, aimed at determining sex.

4. If members have previously declared their sex, has that data been retained?

You have confirmed that the previous data with regard to the sex of members has been retained.

5. If members select just one of the boxes, in three out of the five possibilities to tick, there is no way of knowing whether individuals are female or male. Could you explain how that relates to identifying possible discrimination against or disadvantage to women on the basis on Sex, which like Race and Disability, is a protected characteristic in the 2010 Equality Act?

You have agreed that you have no way of knowing whether individuals are female or male, since a member can complete this form on the basis of either Gender (in the old-fashioned sense as a synonym for sex) or Gender Identity, self-selected. My question pointed to the fact that three boxes, Trans, Non-binary, Other, could be filled in by both sexes. Your answer indicates that in fact the other two boxes, Man and Woman, could also be filled in by either sex. You have not answered my question about the relationship between this data gathering and the identification of discrimination on the basis of sex as per the 2010 Equality Act. However, the implication is that this data could no longer be applied to those purposes.

  1. Has the Labour Party stopped collecting data on Sex?

The Labour Party has stopped collecting data on sex, and has replaced that with data about Gender Identity.

Finally, I was interested to hear that LGBT activists do not want their data captured on Labour Party systems. In that context, why would the membership form ask for Gender details that include Trans and Non-Binary?

I would be grateful if you could confirm that my summary of your reply is as you intended. Or perhaps you could provide some further clarification?

I look forward to hearing from you or >>>>>> at your convenience.

With best regards,

xxxxxx

………………………………..……………………………………………………..

Replace Gender with Sex

We know that many women have complained about the way that a gender identity has been allocated to them by whoever is administering data collection in the Labour Party, and we find it insulting that there has been a complete lack of engagement with these members to correct the errors and issues that have been clearly pointed out. That the word ‘identity’ has been deleted from the online membership card within days of the ONS judgement is remarkable, given the lack of response to women members.  Does it really take expensive court cases for the concerns of our members to be taken seriously? Messing about with membership details and using the language used to erase sex as a category should not be being undertaken lightly and without consultation. A full understanding is needed of the consequences  of such meddling for data collection, security and the impact on our equalities duties and work.

Since the last email from this member in September 2019, the Labour Party Manifesto pledged to deepen the understanding of and enforce the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, but we can see no evidence that this is being done, rather, the reverse.

Labour Manifesto 2019

We draw your attention to the following extract from the Welsh Government’s commitment to data collection in it’s recent Manifesto.

“Welsh Labour will ensure that data collection by Welsh Government and other public bodies use the characteristics protected under the Equality Act 2010: sex, race, age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy or maternity, and gender reassignment. This will ensure that it is possible to measure how successful Welsh Government is in supporting public bodies to meet their duty to ensure equality of outcomes for all.”

We would also like to address the issue of the collection of data from other protected groups. We understand that the policy not to collect data on the basis of sexuality was made after consultation with only one group – LGBTQI+ Labour who cited security concerns. This approach was questioned by many lesbians and gay men at the time, as many organisations have collected such information over many years without any issues. As a result, LGBTQI+ Labour remain the only group available to be consulted around LGBT+ issues and the information and data from our members is missing. This group is an affiliated lobby group, not a members’ group and cannot be said to speak for lesbian and gay members nor to be allowed to replace direct communication with our members. Lesbian and gay members are also protected under the Equality Act, as are those who are ‘gender reassigned’. If the party is to exercise its duties and aspirations in regard to equality it is vital that the appropriate data is collected and that members are directly consulted.

We hope, therefore, that you will consider all the points we have raised and ensure the development of comprehensive data collection which does not omit groups who experience very real and specific discrimination. A policy is urgently needed which is based on the well-defined, legally-established characteristics in the 2010 Equality Act, which will update the Party’s systems and governance in the light of that Act and that would also be consonant with the aspirations and principles which we believe lie at the heart of Labour Party.

#SixWords-For the word ‘person’ substitute ‘woman’

 

pregnancy & maternity rights
#SixWords – For the word ‘person’ substitute ‘woman’

Call to Action

#SixWords – For the word ‘person’ substitute ‘woman’. “Giving birth is not like chairing a meeting. It cannot be done by a person of either sex.”

It is beyond belief that it has taken governments 103 years to notice women in government may have babies. We are very pleased to see long overdue recognition of this fact in the Maternity Bill to be debated in the Commons this Thursday, 11th February 2020.

But it is unacceptable that the bill talks of ‘pregnant people’ and makes no mention of women at all. This is not a situation that will ever apply to male ministers, so why the obfuscation of language? Nor is it inclusive of those who might be adopting children – adopters are not included in the phrase ‘pregnant people’.

Please, as a matter of urgency,  email your MP ( even telephone your if you are able to) if you believe they are sympathetic. Ask them to propose and support amendment of the Bill’s wording to replace the word ‘person’ with ‘woman’. There is less than 48 hours before this bill is presented. See our example template letter below. Amend as you see fit.

Language matters. Sex matters. Women must not be erased. Share this post across your networks; it affects all women in all political parties.

Template Letter

Dear MP

I have serious concerns around the language used in the Ministerial Maternity Bill being rushed through this week.

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-01/0255/200255.pdf

I am pleased to see the House is giving female ministers some of the rights that other pregnant women have – but it is unacceptable that this draft bill undermines our language and removes sex-specific language for mothers, by referring to the mother as  a “person [who] is pregnant” and a “person [who] has given birth to a child”. The bill should be drafted in line with the Equality Act 2010, which talks about pregnancy and maternity using the ordinary language of “woman”, “she” and “her”.

The Drafting Guidance policy to use gender-neutral language should not mean erasing all language about the sexes where only one sex is involved, as in the case of maternity arrangements. Sex-specific language should and must be used in the bill.

The explanatory notes also need to be corrected, as they refer to female ministers throughout using the awkward plural indeterminate “they”. For example: “The Minister on Leave would be able to access papers they were able to access in their previous rôle”.

It is concerning that such action to change language, a strategy used by Stonewall, and other promoters of gender identity ideology, seems in line with the plan for covert changes outlined in a policy paper written by IGLYO (see links below my signature).

It is the responsibility of The Office of the Parliamentary Counsel and the Government Legal Office to draft clear, coherent, accessible law and to help the government to govern well, within the rule of law. Please discuss rectifying this with the ministers presenting the Bill, so that the Drafting Guidance properly allows for sex-specific language where the person concerned can be defined by their sex – as is the case for a woman who is pregnant or a mother.

For a full background, please read this article: 

https://mforstater.medium.com/pregnant-people-in-parliament-62adaa521c2d

Yours sincerely,

[Name and address – you must add your address so your MP knows you live in her/his constituency]

1) IGLYO, Dentons and Thomson Reuters paper:   

https://www.iglyo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/IGLYO_v3-1.pdf

2) https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-document-that-reveals-the-remarkable-tactics-of-trans-lobbyists

 

Free Speech for Women at a Free Speech Rally

#StopTheLabourLockout

Women's Rights, Free Speech, Sex-Based Rights, Sex Matters

LWD signatory Esther Giles has been no platformed at a free speech rally  organised today by a coalition of left groups in support of suspended members.

We are asking all those who support free speech to insist that Esther is reinstated as a speaker, and if this doesn’t happen to withdraw from the rally.

Here is Esther’s statement

Nick Rogers, suspended Chair of Tottenham CLP, has withdrawn from the rally and has made this statement in support of Esther.

Labour In Exile, Labour Left Alliance and Labour Against the Witchhunt have also issued a joint statement in support of Esther.

A group of Tottenham CLP members have written this letter to the organisers of the rally.

“We are not going to attend the Stand Up For Labour Party Democracy #StopTheLabourLockout rally because of the purging of Esther Giles from the speakers list under pressure from sectarians, who are determined to silence and drive out people on the left who support women’s rights. Anybody who does attend should challenge the hypocrisy.

The awful irony of no platforming someone persecuted by the Labour Party leadership at a rally meant to oppose that seems to be lost on the organisers.

To persecute those who hold that gender and sex are not the same and that people born biologically female who have lived all their lives as women in a patriarchal society have a distinct experience is unacceptable. Whether born female or male, it is not transphobic to hold that view. To regard it as anathema is wrongheaded and will do huge damage to the left.”

LWD Response to NEC Statement On Women’s Representation

With Women’s Conference deadlines announced and delegations soon to be made, with Scottish Labour MSP selections looming, women members all over the country will be seeking advice from the official Labour Party site. Labour Women’s Declaration working group is dismayed by the NEC out of date statement on All Women Shortlists, women’s officers and minimum quotas for women. https://labour.org.uk/about/how-we-work/nec-statement-women-shortlists-womens-officers-minimum-quotas-women/ It is the text of the NEC statement from 22nd May 2018. 

It is true that Labour had (past tense) a proud record of championing for women. This derived from a materialist understanding of women’s disadvantages within this culture, of the way discrimination works and how socialisation results in women’s and girls’ much lower expectations and ambitions.

The inclusion of self-identified transwomen makes a mockery of all the reasons behind these policies. It destroys affirmative action for women if any male person identifying as female is included in a group whose experience of discrimination is specific and different from that of trans-identifying people. This version of the policy has never been discussed or agreed democratically in the Party. To say that the Party will ‘deal with’ anyone subverting the intention of All Women Shortlists, women’s officers or minimum quotas for women is absurd when it is the Party itself which is subverting that intention.

We do not accept the claim that such policies are consistent with the letter and spirit of the Equality Act 2010, which quite explicitly speaks of the exceptions permitting single-sex provision as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Given the aim of building the Party’s empowerment of women in Party rôles and as MPs, it is not hard to see why the exceptions should be used.

We entirely agree that discussions should never take the form of abuse or intimidation. Sadly, the Labour Party has been entirely unwilling to act on any of the hundreds of abusive and intimidatory responses, in meetings and in online Labour forums, towards those who assert the need for women’s rights to be upheld.

The final part of the statement referring to reform not only of the Gender Recognition Act but of the Equality Act 2010 is misleading. It is not Labour Party policy. The 2019 manifesto stated the intention to “Ensure that the single-sex-based exemptions contained in the Equality Act 2010 are understood and fully enforced in service provision.” It was that commitment that helped us to ensure that women did not leave Labour, seeing this as a clear commitment to our rights. 

How is it possible to prevent the subversion of All Women Shortlists and have a policy that anyone can self-identify as a woman? When did it become Labour Party policy to reform the Equality Act 2010, which already protects trans people on the basis of sex as well as for gender reassignment and protects women on the basis of sex? The 2019 manifesto commitment was for the single-sex exceptions in the EA2010 to be “understood and fully enforced in service provision”. We don’t need reform, we need clarity and proper implementation of current law. 

What is the NEC playing at? Surely this is out of date information (published in May 2018) and since superceded by the 2019 Manifesto. It should have been amended and not feature on the Labour Party website as a statement of current policy. It most certainly should not be foregrounded with the current Leader’s photo as some sort of ironic ‘Welcome’ statement, aimed at undermining women’s rights. In a week where Scottish Labour is producing  zipped lists that are important for female representation in politics, it is important that old policy does not remain on the official Labour Party website. We demand that the website is updated to reflect 2019 Manifesto. 

 

 

LWD Responds to WESC Inquiry on GRA Reform

 

Members of Parliament on the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Select Committee are currently holding an inquiry into reform of the Gender Recognition Act. According to the committee, the inquiry is designed to examine the government’s proposals for change to the gender recognition process, ‘gathering evidence on whether the proposed changes to GRA2004 are the right ones and whether they go far enough’.  As part of its inquiry, the committee is holding a number of in-person evidence sessions and has also sought written views. 

The Labour Women’s Declaration working group is among a range of organisations which have submitted written evidence. This has now been published by the committee and you can read the full document here. The key points in our submission are: 

  • Considerable problems arise through confusion of the terms ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ in the GRA 
  • Equality monitoring and discharge of the Public Sector Equality Duty are compromised by the confusion of these terms
  • Accurate guidance concerning the provision of single-sex services is urgently needed 
  • As a result of these confusions and inaccurate guidance, self-declaration of identity as a woman or man has become the de facto norm, acceptance of which is assumed by many to be a legal requirement; women’s sex-based rights are damaged by this acceptance
  • Vulnerability, potential dangers, religious belief and discrimination are among the reasons why single-sex provision is required 
  • Undefined terms such as non-binary and gender-fluid cannot be the basis for law, and any problems arising from non-conformity to stereotypes is better addressed via existing law
  • The Scottish Government’s proposed Gender Recognition Reform Bill does not offer a suitable alternative to reforming the GRA 

 

Open letter to Sir Keir Starmer MP

 

Open letter to: Sir Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Opposition

Cc: Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader

Marsha de Cordova, Shadow Secretary, Women and Equalities

From: Labour Women's Declaration

 23rd November 2020

Dear Keir,

OBJECTION TO YOUR TWEET OF INACCURATE AND OFFENSIVE VIDEO

The Labour Women’s Declaration Working Group, on behalf of over 5000 Labour Party members and supporters, objects to the video tweeted by you and also the Labour Party on 20th November, Transgender Day of Remembrance, featuring Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, incorrectly implying that trans people suffer disproportionate murder and hate crime rates in the UK.

No trans person has been murdered here in the past two years. 82% of the 350 murders mentioned were in Latin America and none were from the UK. The homicide and femicide rates in Brazil, and in particular of women and trans people driven into prostitution through poverty, are appalling and of course each victim deserves remembrance, but by presenting those figures as if they were UK based you do further disservice to those very real issues, and expose an alarming level of ignorance about them.

Angela’s video is also misleading on the issue of hate crime and fails to distinguish between hate crime and hate incidents. We would suggest the Labour Party and your Policy Officers inform themselves about the law and relevant guidance.

20th November was International Children’s Day. There are 4.2 million children in UK living in poverty (30% of our children) yet no video for them; nor were there videos on Lesbian Visibility Day, World Toilet Day, International Day for Tolerance nor National Anti-Bullying Week.

Meanwhile, the Femicide Census 2009-2018 records that 1,425 women have been murdered by men in the UK. This represents one woman every three days since 2009. This year alone, as of April, 90 deaths of women as a result of male violence have been recorded by Karen Ingala Smith, chief executive of Nia  and founder of “Counting Dead Women”. The names of these women are read out in Parliament every year by one of your MPs. (We note that this is the same Karen Ingala Smith, who was rejected as a Labour Party member in February 2020, ostensibly because of hostility to “gender identity”, an expression with no definition in law.)

This Wednesday, 25th November 2020, will be International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Via @countingdeadwomen Karen will be naming every UK woman killed by a man (that she is aware of) since IDEVAW last year, 108 women so far. She will start at 8am and tweet about one woman every 5 minutes.  

Can we expect the Labour Party to release a video drawing attention to those 1425+ women who have been murdered in the UK in the last 10 years, and highlighting the urgent need for women’s refuges to be adequately funded?

Your fear-mongering and virtue-signalling are failing both trans people and women. In addition to stoking anxieties for trans people, the unfounded claims in your video have real and increasingly dangerous consequences for women. You can see clear evidence of this in the comments below your tweets which have incited those who are already bullying MP Rosie Duffield (and party members like us) to further excesses and silencing tactics of threat and hatred.

 You and the Party are failing in your Public Sector Equality Duty to foster good relations between groups protected under the Equality Act, and in your duty to safeguard your own female MPs and party members, many of whom tell us they feel unable to speak freely about women’s sex-based rights, despite the manifesto commitment to them. Here’s just another example – read what happened in a Portsmouth CLP meeting last week over a motion focussed on women’s right to speak. It is an account that clearly demonstrates that women members in our Party are actively being denied their democratic right to speak and be heard. Keir, the Labour Party has a problem that won’t go away just because you’re trying to ignore it.

For the many women members who are questioning their allegiance to the Labour Party because women’s rights appear so low on your agenda, Angela’s video, falsely identifying transgender people in the UK as being more at risk than any other group and exposing women in your party who speak up about it to yet more abuse, is chilling.

How can it be that leadership of a party with such a history of advancing and defending women’s rights can exhibit so little understanding of the issues we face? If you continue to refuse to listen to women who have offered to explain and discuss with you the conflict of rights referred to in the Equality Act, you will continue to blunder into promoting inaccurate propaganda like Friday’s video. You called for ‘more light, less heat’ but have done nothing to allow light to shine, and your video has fanned the flames of the heat.

We look forward to your response to the many requests from women’s groups like ours, including Woman’s Place UK, for a meeting with you. We also look forward to hearing you and the Deputy Leader stand up for the manifesto’s commitment to the enforcement of sex-based rights, and for women’s rights, including MPs’ rights, to discuss issues which affect us.

Nothing about us, without us. Women’s voices matter.

Yours sincerely,

Labour Women’s Declaration Working Group