Labor must firm its stance on transgender issues to win the next election, Sir Keir Starmer has been told.
Senior figures within the party believe there is a need to clarify their policy on the issue and bring it closer to the public.
Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to transgender rights – blamed for costing her not only her SNP support but also a mass exodus of more than 40 per cent of party members – has crystallized the importance of the issue, according to Labor insiders.
“In many ways she was the most successful politician of our generation and yet she was brought down by the GRA [Gender Recognition Act]. The public was in a different place than the politicians,” said a Labor Party source.
Ms Sturgeon’s highly controversial Gender Reform Bill, which proposed allowing anyone over the age of 16 to legally change their gender without consulting a doctor, was defeated in Westminster.
The First Minister announced her resignation last month after admitting she had become a “polarizing figure”.
Labor officials believe their policies must not fall into a similar trap: “If you try to do good to a very small minority group, you inadvertently offend a lot of women who feel their place in society is being eliminated becomes. You have to balance the needs of different groups.”
The trans promise could be quietly dropped
Sir Keir, Labor leader, has previously promised to change the law to allow trans people to self-declare their gender.
In 2021 he pledged to the LGBT community that if elected he would take action similar to what Scotland has done at the GRA in England and Wales. But it is believed that this policy could be quietly dropped until the next elections.
Labor MPs fear the party must ‘find an answer’ to the trans issue that ‘secures women’s rights’.
Labor is trying to position itself as the party at the center of British politics. It has identified middle-aged, suburban women as a target group to attract ahead of the general election.
Labor strategists have examined polls showing how a gender voting gap has emerged since 2010, with women more likely to vote for Labour, on average.
But the poll finds that Labor’s advantage is “particularly among women under 50” while the Tories lead among women over 50.
Angela Rayner, Labor Deputy Leader, and Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary, have spearheaded the party’s efforts to target this group of older women with a range of policies on issues ranging from managing menopause in the workplace to Breast cancer waiting lists are enough.
Ms Dodds recently gave a keynote speech at the Women’s Institute, the first Labor personality to speak there since Sir Tony Blair’s infamous speech over two decades ago, which prompted a slow clapping of hands from the audience.
She wrote in The Telegraph that Sir Keir will deliver for “mid-life” women who have been “overlooked for too long”.
Labor appeal to the Red Wall
Labor is also trying to toughen its stance on other social issues such as immigration and climate change to ensure its policies appeal to another key constituency – those in the Red Wall.
This could include repackaging the pitch to net zero to be less about “tree hugs” and Extinction Rebellion and more about how to keep energy bills low.
“There has been a trend towards [policies dictated by] urban graduates and their sensitivity to the world,” said a Labor source.
“It’s very dismissive of people living different lives in different parts of the country. People feel ignored at best and ridiculed at worst. We have to respect things that people care about.”
It comes as a network of Labor activists and staffers prepares to relaunch itself next month as a think tank that will produce monthly reports on how the party can engage its target voters.
The organization, dubbed Labor Together, wants to present a set of policy recommendations that will reposition the party as “socially right and economically left”.
Josh Simons, its director, said: “We now have a leader who is already bringing Labor closer to voters.”
He added that unlike the Jeremy Corbyn era, Labor is no longer seen as a “patronizing bunch of liberal Londoners who know nothing about people’s lives”.