Two Labour activists have contradicted David Lammy’s claims that never encountered the transgender issue “on the doorstep”.
Speaking to Rachel Burden on Radio 5 Live, 29th September, Lammy criticised the BBC for focusing on “identity issues” and denied that voters are concerned about gender ideology, saying to Burden "you have chosen to ask me about an issue that has never, ever been raised on the doorstep".
He took an almost identical line while talking to Nick Robinson of BBC’s Today programme on the same day. “Nick you are deliberately asking me about an issue which you know does not come up on the doorstep. It’s a bit of a trap to get caught up on identity politics.”
Again, he said: “It’s never come up on the doorstep.”
Now, activists from Lammy’s own constituency Labour Party (CLP) have revealed they told him that former Labour voters had expressed despair that the party is ignoring women. One party member revealed that Lammy—
Comforted an emotional woman who was worried about the direction the party was taking on trans issues, and assured her “Labour will not let women down.”
Told the same woman that Dawn Butler, his shadow cabinet colleague, “didn’t know what she was saying” after she made widely-reported comments that “children are born without a sex“ (UPDATE: A subscriber writes “the Dawn Butler statements that allegedly upset the constituent were not the ones about "people being born with no sex". That particular episode of madness came after the Dec 2019 election. In the run up to the election, Butler attacked single sex spaces enshrined under the Equalities Act and said that there was “no way [that] spaces will be permitted to discriminate against trans people”.)
Admitted he was aware of constituents’ anger over Butler’s and Labour’s stance on gender.
Met with women party activists who spoke with him for three hours, detailing their concerns about the Labour party’s support for Self-ID. He agreed that the women in the party should be widely consulted on the issue.
I spoke to Julia (not her real name) after she got in touch via email to tell me the story.
JULIA: I joined to campaign for Jeremy Corbyn and so did most of my colleagues, and we have a reputation for constantly going out door-knocking. And we did it every week for years. I did a lot, I really threw my heart and soul into this because like many other people I would have quite liked a decent government, but hey. So, there were quite a few general elections and obviously, it was a general election when I did this one with David, I did loads with him. He's very useful to campaign with.
In my area, in particular, they like him... They all think he's absolutely marvellous and that's one of the things that I really like about what's happened over my tweet. Because for the first time ever I’ve ever had people saying to me, is this really David Lammy? Well, yes, this is David Lammy. He is a very passionate man. And he gets to anger quickly. He can cry at the drop of a hat. He can, you know, do all of these things, but he always does it for him, he's not doing it for anybody else.
Now I'd started to meet a lot of women... I was already aware of all of this, by the way, I am a signatory of Labour’s Women’s declaration. So I have lots of friends within that group...and I knew what was happening and what was going on. And then I started to meet people on the doorstep. And there were more and more women, and we have quite a high lesbian ratio of women in this area. A lot of them moved here thirty odd years ago and found it a good place to stay and they liked it. So they were being very open on the doorstep and saying “we're just not voting for them. What do they think they're doing?” And I’d say you know “I'm totally on board with you and I'm not the only one. There's loads of us fighting,”
GL: Let's just pause there for a second because some people might not be up to speed with all the dynamics in this debate. So when you say that these women agreed with you, do you mean, they agreed with the gender critical point of view?
JULIA: Yeah. My other colleagues in other areas of the borough weren't coming across this, but I think because this ward where I am, and it's my ward, there's lots and lots, and they’re much more aware of it and there’s lots of strong women. They were getting very upset and I was amazed to suddenly start getting it on the doorstep...saying they weren't going to vote and there was nothing I could say to make them change their minds. I tried to get them to join us, and fight, because it's one of the only things you can damn well do!
So that really is what I was doing. Now this one particular woman, this day...I'd already talked to David Lammy and said we're having quite a lot of women on the doorstep who are very upset about the Labour's position on gender. And I think... I'm fairly sure, thinking about it, that Dawn Butler had just made one of her silly statements...You know, she really went off on one at one point during the elections,
GL: Oh, yes, she said something like, there’s no such thing as biological sex or something (note: it was her ”a child is born without a sex” comment)
JULIA: I can’t remember exactly, but it was one of the first real sort of outbursts by somebody in Labour so... you know, people read things like that and were thinking about things like that.
I said to David, you know, women are very upset at what Dawn said, and are very upset with the way the Labour Party appears to be going on the gender thing and I'm a bit worried you might come across some on the doorstep. So I'm just telling you. And if you do, I would like you to listen to them and perhaps understand where people are coming from, because to me, if you're an MP and you're on the doorstep, that is really what you should listening to, is it not? Your constituents.
Anyway, we did a lot of door-knocking, and we were about three-quarters of the way through and I knocked on a door, and a woman... Yeah, she was very upset. I had my rose, my badge on and all the rest of it. And I said, “I'm from the Labour Party.” I'm very hands-on, I’m a people person. So I find people opening up to me and she instantly started to open up and she was obviously on her own, she was really scared about what she could see was going to happen. You know, I think back then a lot of us then thought this is never gonna happen.
GL: Like self ID. Men in women's prisons, men in women's sports, we thought it was still so crazy that it wouldn't actually happen and it's all happened.
JULIA: And it’s all happened. And it seems to get worse, or we go one step forward and ten steps backwards. And it’s just insane. So, you know, she was crying. She was holding my hand... actually, she held her hand out and she was... you know, I've never forgotten that woman because actually, she really touched me, and I wish I could remember where she lived, and I can't because of all that campaigning.
GL: I imagine one road looks like another after a while.
JULIA: Then he came along, looked up and...and he liked coming in on my conversations because he usually got into some good ones, he knew that I was quite useful... I remember him opening the gate and walking down like he does, larger than life, you know, with a big smile and he said “Oh, what's the matter with you. What can I do?” and he took her hands in both of his. He indeed moved in to hug her at one point and she wasn’t having it. She moved backwards. It was innocent--with David, if people need a bit of care, they’ll get a hug.
But he spoke to her and he said “Oh, this is all a bit of silly business” he said, and I'm sure it was about Dawn, I'm sure he said “oh well I don't think Dawn knew what she was saying.” And it was very funny because he said “we have a lot of very strong women in this borough and I would never cross them.” He said, “You know, they talk to me on many occasions about things.” He said “I am aware that people are a bit upset about this but really I don't think anything's going to happen, you really shouldn't worry because Labour will never, ever let down women”..
It went on for ages but you know, in the end, she was not having any of it and he went off, and, you know, I gave her a hug and I said, I'm really sorry. And we left her.
Then we knocked on a few more doors and we met our colleagues down the road. It was a Sunday afternoon or something and we met outside the pub where we were all meeting back. And I saw one of my colleagues there, a woman that's very involved with Labour Women’s Declaration. So I grabbed her and I said, Listen, this is what's just happened.
She went zooming after David Lammy to have words with him. But, you know, she had words with him on more than one occasion, and several of my colleagues with her met with David Lammy.
GL: Were they representatives of the Labour Women’s Declaration?
JULIA: No just Labour women from his borough.
GL: would you, would you have a rough idea of about how many women went to see him?
JULIA: I think there were maybe five or six. Okay. They arranged a meeting... I mean we're trying to meet him again by the way. The nonsense about, you know... I want my cervix back…
GL: Well, maybe this will do it…. it because I think everything that you've said, I mean he has been caught in a real porky, but if he was to show honest engagement with the issue and genuinely listened to people, you know, there might yet be a good result out of this. Because he sounds like a good politician.
JULIA: Oh, he's a very good politician and he's a very popular politician but round here people are getting a bit fed up with him because since Keir coming to power, everything's changed. He's now on the front benches, he doesn't come to meetings as much. I would also like to point out at this moment in time that he always comes to General Council meetings. And he always comes and reports to that group. So we have had I believe up till now, four motions, about debating women and free speech. So he is well aware, full stop. He is well aware of all this, going back years.
I asked Julia if she could get me any more details about the group that met him and soon received an email from another activist.
“We spent approximately 3 hours with him. The first hour we spent in his office following which he took us for drinks in one of the parliament bars. The whole time was spent discussing women's rights and the concerns we had in respect of self-identification.
David had very limited knowledge of the subject believing, as do many of the population, that all transwoman transition using surgery and hormones. He seemed shocked at the information we were giving him which was that under the proposed changes to the GRA, any men could self ID as a women and have access to women's space. He intimated to us that he concurred with our concerns particularly in respect of safeguarding of women and children. He seemed to have limited knowledge of Labour’s position but agreed that the women in the party should be widely consulted and led us to believe that he would speak to the shadow cabinet equality person to suggest that.
I followed this up on other occasions with one of his staffers who was very sympathetic but who is no longer in his office. We could never confirm if he followed up on this.”