A Labour shadow minister has called for an end to “factionalism” and “intolerance” following reports a female MP will miss the party’s conference on security advice.
Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury, has told the Sunday Times she will stay away from the party’s gathering in Brighton later this week.
According to the newspaper, she has recieved online threats from transgender campaigners.
Ms Duffield has previously been branded a “transphobe” on social media for making the comment that “only women have a cervix”.
And she has also said that “self-identification” as a woman might not be appropriate for entering female-only spaces.
Labour’s shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, Pat McFadden, told Sky News that he would be “appalled if Rosie thought that she couldn’t go to the Labour party conference”.
“Every MP should be safe at the Labour party conference or at their own party conference,” he said, when speaking to the Trevor Phillips On Sunday show.
“I want Rosie to be able to go to conference but, more broadly here, I think there is an important cultural point about how we discuss things.”
He added that “difficult issues” should be able to be discussed in a way that doesn’t result in “terrible online abuse or threats or anything like that”.
Mr McFadden said that the reported threats against Ms Duffield “underlines the need for cultural change”.
“We cannot have this kind of factionalism, we can’t have this kind of intolerance,” he continued.
“And we are convinced there is a need for change in the Labour Party on many fronts but the internal culture is certainly one of them.
“I would say that Keir Starmer believes in this very strongly and he has been very clear about this since he became leader.”
Labour’s mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, also said it was “unacceptable that anybody feels unsafe” going to the party’s conference.
Asked on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show whether “someone who thinks that only women have a cervix” would be welcome at conference, Mr Khan said: “They are. One of the things about the Labour Party is it’s a chance to debate, discuss, have disagreement in a respectful way.
“It’s unacceptable that anybody feels unsafe going to the Labour Party conference, whether it’s Rosie Duffield, whether it’s journalists or anybody else.
“We must be able to have this conversation in a civilised way and I make this point which is really important: One out of four trans teenagers tries to kill themselves, these are one of the most vulnerable members of our society and it’s really important we have this debate in a cool, calm, respectful way.”
According to the Sunday Times, Ms Duffield has been left “exhausted” and on occasion “frightened” by abuse directed against her, which she is said to have discussed with House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Labour’s chief whip Sir Alan Campbell and her local police.
“I mainly took the decision not because I really thought I was going to be attacked, but because I did not want to be the centre of attention,” she told the newspaper.
“We have had Labour MPs who have had to have security at conference over the past few years, and I didn’t want that sort of attention or to become the story. I just thought it was better for everyone if I quietly stayed away.”