No ‘huge difference’ between way Corbyn and Starmer deal with abuse – Labour MP

Rosie Duffield has previously said she was ‘considering’ her future in the party.

11 February 2022

A Labour MP who has come in for abuse for her views on trans and women’s issues has criticised what she perceives to be a lack of change since Sir Keir Starmer took the reins.

Rosie Duffield said she has not experienced a “huge amount of difference” between Sir Keir’s leadership and that of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In response, Labour said Ms Duffield has the “full support” of the party and the leadership.

The Canterbury MP said last month that her party had offered her “no support at all” since she was elected in 2017 and that she was “considering my future” as a Labour member.

But, in comments published on Friday, Ms Duffield appeared to suggest she was not considering a defection to the Conservative Party.

She told the Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast that while it would “tempting to go somewhere where you don’t have to battle your own tiny faction of your own membership”, there were issues, such as Brexit and immigration, she could not agree with the Tories on.

“I’m a Labour person. I shouldn’t be having to feel like this,” the opposition backbencher said.

Ms Duffield has come under fire for her opposition to “male-bodied biological men” being allowed to self-identify as female in order to access women-only spaces such as prisons and domestic violence refuges.

She opted not to attend the Labour Party conference in September after receiving threats and being branded transphobic.

Sir Keir, who succeeded Mr Corbyn in April 2020, later said the Kent MP had been wrong to say “only women have a cervix”.

Speaking to the podcast, Ms Duffield called into question Sir Keir’s bid to unite the party, saying she did not see “how that is possible”, arguing Labour was split into two wings – Corbynistas and centrists.

The 50-year-old said she could not answer whether Sir Keir had been a “coward” about addressing abuse targeted at women in the party, and called for him to send out a “stronger message” that those targeting sitting Labour MPs “don’t do so in your name”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (Victoria Jones/PA)

She compared what she perceived to be the lack of action by Sir Keir to when she faced criticism during Mr Corbyn’s tenure for speaking up about antisemitism within the party.

Mr Corbyn is currently sitting as an Independent MP after being stripped of the whip for his reaction to a report into Labour’s handling of antisemitism complaints.

Talking about when she faced a motion of censure from local party members, Ms Duffield said: “Jeremy was repeatedly asked if he supported me or if he would make a statement supporting them.

“He said he didn’t get involved at local level, and didn’t make statements about local constituency parties.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“I don’t feel there’s a huge amount of difference at the moment. And some of those characters are still around and still organising against me.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Rosie is a valued member of the PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party.

“Keir and the Labour Party continue to offer her our full support.”

Ms Duffield said Sir Keir had met with her after she aired concerns about her position in the party last month.

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