Last month, Emily Brothers broke news for being the first openly trans person to be selected by Labour to fight a parliamentary election, for the (relatively) safe seat of Sutton and Cheam. The coverage has been mixed to say the least, either being positive but factually dodgy, or being incredibly negative. But what may have damaged her own campaign more than anything was an interview she participated in for Russia Today, which was riddled with inaccuracies that can only really be explained by partisanship where it’s inappropriate.
The presenter describes her as the first openly transgender candidate for Parliament. In actual fact, she’s more likely the sixth openly transgender candidate. This has been something that even Labour have backtracked upon, and to her credit she did limit that to major party… but still, “major party” has a specific definition, and if the SNP weren’t included in that in 1992 when Sandra McRae ran, the Lib Dems almost certainly were in 2005 when Stephanie Dearden ran.
But what’s more worrying is that, when asked by the presenter, she claims the Gender Recognition Act 2004 as proof of Labour’s progressivism on trans rights. Which is quite simply wrong, as Labour were forced by the European Court of Human Rights to do so. I’ve spoken about this kind of history revisionism before, and whether it’s her or her party that’s feeding it, it’s one very easy way to lose all credibility among trans people.
The interview then delves into healthcare, an issue that’s one of the most important for the trans community. She states her support for improving access to GICs, but that does conflict with Labour’s record in Wales, where they’ve refused to support one – to the chagrin of trans members of Labour. But then she threatens to undermine not just her campaign, but her entire party’s, by completely rewriting the history of the NHS.
PFI, as we must recognise, was started by the Major government, but it took a life of its own under Labour. Defended even now as a method of cash injection into an admittedly failing NHS, it brought its own problems, especially as it led to masses of hospital closures to defend the sustainability of the new hospitals, and also led to those new hospitals receiving a millstone of debt around their necks. Those in Yorkshire may look no further than Calderdale Royal Hospital, the replacement for the Halifax Royal Infirmary that has nearly £800m in debts.
And then it just gets bizarre. She then calls for the abolition of the internal market, which she blames on the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and, by extension, the Tories and her Lib Dem opponent (and former junior health minister) Paul Burstow. There’s just one problem with that… the internal market was introduced by Ken Clarke in 1990. Again, it’s something Labour also were incredibly comfortable with, to the point of privatising entire hospitals (but leaving a Tory minister to sign the final papers).
The whole issue of Labour using the privatising fist in a public sector glove that is Andy Burnham is one that is frankly puzzling. Brothers sticks to her party line on repealing the Health and Social Care Act, but then says that this would be part of integrating health and social care together… which is also incredibly puzzling, seeing as health and social care integration has been ongoing over the past ten years, with the HSCA 2012 being a major part of it. The “full repeal” line that Labour have promoted misses some nuances of the Act, and may prove to be their downfall like tuition fees has been for the Lib Dems.
But Brothers doesn’t stop there, and insteads continues to talk about the third item of the trifecta of failure: anti-discrimination legislation. Brothers claims that incitement to hatred of transgender people is illegal, except… it isn’t. While, in 2008, the Labour government did criminalise incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation (although not without a wrecking amendment from the Tory peer Lord Waddington), the Public Order Act still doesn’t cover incitement to hatred on grounds of gender identity. Despite being promised in the 2007 Queen’s Speech, the Labour government did not even move the requisite amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill needed.
She also mentions protections under the Gender Recognition Act as related to the Sex Discrimination Act, and how she would love to see said protections expanded… which would be welcome if Labour’s Equality Act didn’t repeal most of those amendments and replace them with transphobic allowances promoted by trans-exterminist feminists to kick women like me and her out of sheltered accommodation and single-sex areas for the crime of looking trans.
Brothers is just one symptom of a major problem in the Labour party that I’ve previously covered. I’m happy that more trans people are running for major office, but this is absolutely not an issue to be unnecessarily partisan on. In the next five to ten years, the needs of the trans community will come up time and time again and we absolutely need a consensus that isn’t party political. We don’t want to spend ten years waiting for our government to play catch-up with positive public opinion because our lobbying organisations are too wedded to a party. I wish Brothers the best of luck, but it’s clear that not only is she an awful candidate on trans issues, she’s just an awful candidate.