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The Process is the Punishment

LWD Statement in response to Caroline Wheeler’s Sunday Times report that Rosie Duffield is not on the approved list of MPs for the General Election. 

From the information in this article, it appears that because Rosie Duffield is currently under investigation by the party she is not currently on the party’s approved list of candidates for the General Election. We presume this will be the same for any MPs currently under investigation in response to complaints or allegations.

Many MPs, especially female MPs, suffer from malicious complaints made against them. It is the job of political parties to quickly evaluate whether a complaint is credible, and then to swiftly and fairly investigate and conclude that investigation. 

For years we have been saying that the Labour Party has not been robust enough in rebutting malicious or vexatious complaints aimed at women who express gender critical/sex realist views. It has undertaken processes where the women under investigation remain in limbo for months if not years, only to have the matter then dropped without explanation or apology. 

Some of the investigations have arisen because the party still has not properly updated its code of conduct and rule book since the passage of the Equality Act in 2010. It uses inconsistent language in relation to sex and gender and in places incorrectly lists the protected characteristics.  This muddled wording meant that it was theoretically possible, for example, to exclude Dr Karen Ingala Smith from membership for “hostility to gender identity” for several years, but then to reverse that decision and allow her to join again earlier this year. We pointed out some of these errors three years ago in this dossier sent to David Evans which we are still waiting to discuss with him. Since we prepared that dossier, women, including long-standing and loyal party members, have continued to suffer from investigations where they have no idea of who the complainant was, nor of the exact details of the allegations. We believe they are also asked by the party to keep the whole process secret, which makes it even more painful. 

Now that the party itself has shifted its position against self-ID and in favour of the definition of woman as adult female,which we have welcomed, it is clearly absurd and unfair for it to continue to investigate historical complaints that any party member has agreed with the party’s current position. 

In relation to the allegations against Rosie listed in the Times article, it appears that Izzard had made a statement about historical facts which, for Linehan, was incorrect. (Linehan said that, according to the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust , lesbians and trans people were not targeted in the same way as gay men in Germany, though lesbians were included in Austrian homophobic laws).  It’s therefore difficult to see from the evidence available how Linehan’s tweet pointing this out, or Rosie liking his tweet, can be deemed to be anti Semitic.  However, the party has apparently deemed it suitable for investigation, as it has the right to do. Arguably, it may well have been unwise for Linehan to get drawn into a twitter spat on it.

However, if as alleged in the article, Rosie Duffield then deleted her like when it was drawn to her attention, presumably out of recognition that this like may cause pain or offence, it is hard to believe that the issue merits an investigation which has been unable to conclude after months and months. 

When investigations are allowed to drag on as they appear to have done in this case, the danger of a leak is compounded, especially when the investigations involve a number of other people of necessity being asked for statements. Presumably any journalist interested will also have been able to notice for weeks which names were missing from the approved list of Labour General Election candidates, and to start digging. 

Surely, also, it brings the Labour Party into disrepute to leave question marks over its MPs for any longer than necessary.

We have some sympathy for the words of this post on X though we recognise that it’s rightly not in the hands of the party leader to act in relation to complaints and investigations. We call on our party’s complaints team to either conclude or abandon its investigations into Rosie Duffield, and for the party leadership to follow Wes Streeting in apologising for the way Rosie – and so many other gender critical women in our party – have been treated. 



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