This week I have strayed from simply trans matter as I have been shown an article published in the News Review of The Sunday Times, written by Tim Shipman, entitled “How the Tories Weaponised Woke”. I was surprised it was in The Sunday Times, a Rupert Murdoch paper, as I understand his papers are encouraged to pursue an anti-trans agenda. It has been all too apparent that there is an increase in transphobia and a culture war has been developing in this country.I had taken the view this was a sad state of affairs and somehow it would work its way through just as s.28 and gay issues had done in the past.
This article claims that this is a deliberate policy to win votes by appealing to working class workers in the north to keep the penetration gained by breaching the red wall and more recently the seat of Hartlepool. Published on 13th June and in it the writer says “this was the week that the government weaponised the war on woke”. In that week a Minister suggested that the English Cricket Board had gone over the top when they suspended a player for historic sexist and racist tweets, The Education Secretary caused a row over the removal of a picture of the Queen from the wall of their common room and by the end of the week there was a “standoff” over the English Football Team taking the knee in support of Black Lives Matters.
The strategy is being put together by Doug Smith, an adviser to the Tories for thirty years and who is married to Munira Mirza, the Downing Street Policy Director. Together they are unseen and extremely powerful. Doug Smith is on the right of the party and is the main influence on issues of race, trans rights and the attacks on historic statues. What is really concerning is that he holds the key to appointments to public bodies, and Tory candidate lists. The result of this is that if someone does not subscribe to his agenda and buy into it they are not going to be appointed or make progress in the party and ambitious Ministers are willing to follow Doug Smith’s agenda to get on.
To win the hearts and minds of the middle of the road voters, including northern voters, Doug Smith has identified they are left on spending and public services but conservative and right on other issues. They support the Queen and country and are tired of being told that everyone is racist (all lives matter they say) and although they claim tolerance this section of society consider the “trendy left” or woke attitudes are an overreaction which needs to be curbed.
So systematically the government is picking off these targets and emphasising division. The response so far is his tactic is working. Tim Shipman writes in the article “however squeamish, MPs insist that refusing to buy into the new orthodoxies on race and identity is helping them amass votes.” It is thought that the policy is going to go down well in the Batley and Spen constituency by-election coming up shortly. Tim Shipman quotes Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire who has been campaigning in the Batley and Spen Constituency as saying “it’s the culture war and on the doorstep we’re winning”.
On the other side of the coin Sir Keir Starmer has come out and made a video supporting Pride events and putting his backing behind Self- ID for trans people. This has done just what Doug Smith wanted putting Labour on the wrong side of northern wall core voters they lost in 2019.
I am deeply concerned that this cynical policy to stoke intolerance is at the heart of government. In relation to my minority group trans rights have been developing quietly for over twenty years and although there is and has been prejudice in general there is a degree of personal tolerance and acceptance by a substantial number of people which in my view would have steadily continued to grow.
The heart of the anti-trans debate is about self ID and they say the consequent right for men who have self-identified as women being able to use single sex spaces as if this was a new revolutionary idea fraught with danger. Transwomen have been able to use single sex spaces perfectly legally for decades. Self ID is about removing the requirement for a medical diagnosis to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate yet this has been hijacked and distorted for political purposes.
The government’s policy will only inflame both transphobic and racial intolerance. I can only hope enough people will speak out against this.