A pledge supported by three of the four leadership candidates has exposed a faultline running through the party
This is a story about how politics fails. It starts with a hairline crack that slowly widens, until it’s big enough for some people to slip through. Eventually, the gap becomes a chasm. And if nobody builds a bridge, eventually the other side almost disappears from sight. This week brought another small earthquake along the faultline running through the Labour party over trans rights. Three women running for the leadership – Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry – all signed a pledge drawn up by a hitherto unknown group of trans activists demanding a battle against what it calls transphobic “hate groups”. (The lone male candidate, Keir Starmer, didn’t sign; Thornberry warned against using the phrase “hate group”.) The pledge specifically named Woman’s Place UK (WPUK), a grouping of leftwing feminists and trade unionists who insist they don’t hate anybody but do worry about trans women accessing all-female spaces – such as domestic violence refuges, prisons, changing rooms and toilets, given proposed reforms making it easier to transition legally. The hashtag launched by defiant supporters of Woman’s Place UK – #ExpelMe, daring Labour to either kick them out or have the guts to defend them, a choice the party seems desperate to avoid – reflects long-simmering tensions.
Related: Labour leadership: row over support for trans rights charter