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NPF Policy Responses: Equalities

It was one of the most heartrending things for me during the 2015 general election. As Labour Club chair at York, trying to rally the student vote for my party, I was told by too many people; “I’m not sure I can vote for Labour. In student politics they don’t stand up for the most marginalised in our society”.

It was a hard statement to respond to then, after national Labour Students had whipped to vote down a motion for a full time trans officer in the NUS. It was a move that disgusted me and most of my labour club at the time, but we had been powerless to stop it and I found myself deeply uncomfortable with the movement I was, and am, a part of.

Now, of course, a full time trans officer has passed through the NUS, with Labour Students support. York delegates to Labour Students proudly voted for a motion within our movement forcing that movement to do so. But it would be extremely naive to deny that Labour Students, and Labour more broadly, has a problem with trans inclusion still. Only this year, Labour Students National Council filibustered out a motion for a trans officer to make way for more time doorknocking, and the voice of the only out trans person at that Council was ignored.

We need to do more on equality, and especially on intersectional equality and on equality for trans people. One of the great problems with equality legislation is people being left behind and forgotten about.  When same gender marriage was passed in this country, we missed huge chances to abolish the necessity of a binary gender identity in order to get married and to abolish the Spousal Veto (which effectively gives the spouses of trans people the right to veto them changing their legal gender). By failing to have truly intersectional equality legislation and policy, that engages all liberation groups, we risk leaving whole communities behind again.

As a member of Labour’s policy commission on Work, Pensions, and Equalities, that is something I think it important to keep in the forefront of my mind. It is something especially clear to me, as someone who may be from a marginalised group within the LGBT community, but who is not trans himself. We have to engage with everyone, or we won’t be the party standing up for the most marginalised in our society. And we should be.

So, we need to talk to trans women when we discuss women’s issues. We need to engage more with BAME and LGBT members when we talk about violence towards women and girls. We need our politics to be more inclusive and accessible for disabled people, whose rights are being destroyed by this Conservative government. Ultimately, my policy commission needs more submissions from party members about equalities, because the voices of our most marginalised members are close to silent right now.

I was particularly saddened to see the section of our consultation document on LGBT equalities basically without content, except a vague statement that Labour had done much in the past. I tried to get firm commitments and ideas suggested in that document, but the policy commission settled on that brief sentence. And, in a sense, I don’t disagree with that; we shouldn’t be speaking for marginalised groups, but instead amplifying their voices. This gives us the chance to do just that.

I’m particularly excited to see a fantastic policy proposal from a trans Labour member, calling for easier and more inclusive ways for people to change their legal gender, the inclusion of being trans in our education system, and the encouragement of gender neutral toilets. All these are simple changes that would dramatically alter the lives of so many people who are so often pushed out of our communities and out of our minds. These should be the voices that policy makers within the party hear loud and clear, and as a member of the National Policy Forum, I’ll be doing my bit to amplify them.

If you’re reading this and you’re a member of the Labour Party from any group that needs equalities legislation, reach out to us and contact the policy commission. As a party, we shouldn’t be about sitting on the laurels of what we’ve already achieved, however great, but about changing the world for the future. And your voice, as marginalised communities, should be much louder in that future.

38 Comments

  1. James Martin says:

    Oh dear, where to start? Probably not with student politics, although it appears that this is all the writer seems to know. The fact that class and socialism was not mentioned at all is telling.

    I suspect that my definition of a ‘marginalised group’ is also slightly different. As a working class northerner in a post-industrial town I get marginalisation, I really do. Different levels of it too if you really want to go down the tuppence halfpenny looking down on tuppence road (the robbing scummy smackheads in the B&B at the top of the road are far more marginalised than me, not that I particularly want their voices ‘amplified’ if I’m being honest even if they are the victims of capitalist society).

    But when I read “[B]y failing to have truly intersectional equality legislation and policy, that engages all liberation groups, we risk leaving whole communities behind again” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. In many workplaces the fact is that equality legislation is constantly left behind anyway. You want to go part time for child or other care reasons? The bosses will stuff you by using the eight ready made feck-off reasons based on business need and you have no right to even go to an ET if the 2014 regs have been followed. Disabled and taking more time off than the bosses like? The trigger points will have you out of the door regardless of reasonable adjustments.

    You see George the issue is not so much policies, important as they are, but our power as the working class to push back in the workplace and through collective activity. Everything else is secondary to that, hard as that often seems when the bosses are too powerful as they are now or if you are not used to working class struggle and see change as something that happens in a student union debate or through the changing of your gender identity.

    Incidentally, the are various reasons why in secondary schools in particular unisex bogs are not a good idea, one of them being around coping with puberty and periods that are particularly difficult for girls when they risk being scared or embarrassed to go to the toilet in case boys are going to be in there looking at them using a tampon machine.

    I’ll admit to not understanding terms like ‘intersectional equality’ (it sounds like another bit of imported american nonsense like ‘political correctness’ to me), but I understand how struggle unites and breaks down barriers (be they gender, race, religion, nationality or anything else). The problem is that there is nothing in this article that points to how we achieve that working class unity in the struggle for socialism and workers control.

    But I’ll finish on a personal story of my own, given that the writer seems to center everything on theirs. My dad who died a decade ago was transgender, from his 60s onwards and at a time when it certainly wasn’t widespread or accepted. He had it tough and I admire him for it, but then he was tough, served in the navy in WWII doing the arctic convoys to the Soviets and helped sink the Nazi battleship the Scharnhorst. I never had a problem with what he did. Nor did my mum bless her, but he was still my dad and that life could never be erased even if he was living it large with the WI (he was an old communist before WWII, but went all Liberal later in life sadly, I blamed that bastard Jeremy Thorpe). But while I suspect this is not the right attitude, it’s more that I couldn’t really give a stuff how people ‘self-identify’ as it isn’t particularly important in the scheme of things (except to themselves, and all power to that). But did his struggles and bravery change society or the world? What he did in helping defeat fascism (along with his three brothers who served on various fronts) yes, bloody right it did. But becoming female? Nah, and that’s the point here, as socialists we want to get rid of capitalism and change the world, but honestly, changing the designation of a toilet door doesn’t come close comrade.

    1. James Harland says:

      James, why on earth do you assume that George isn’t interested in the class struggle?

      From what I know of him George is one of the firmest advocates of returning the Labour Party to solid, class-based analysis that I know. It is perfectly possible to do so whilst taking necessary steps to tackle other prejudices inside the Labour movement. Are you unsatisfied unless every single article ends with ‘but the class struggle comes first?’.

      Nonsense like this is why the left has struggled to gain a purchase inside the party for so long.

      1. James Martin says:

        I can only reply to what is in front of me, which largely appears to be non-socialist student identity politics.

        1. Sophie says:

          I think it’s really important to recognise that identity and class are kinda the same? Like being a women/LGBTQ/Black play into class- which is what intersectional equality means, it means recognising that we can’t consider any factor seperately- I hope that helps slightly?

          I think downplaying the significance of everyday acts of socialism (such as making bathrooms neutral etc), is a really sad thing to do honestly, we just risk alienating more people in our movement?

          1. James Harland says:

            What is non-socialist about it, exactly? Does it anywhere mention that it is opposed to the class struggle? Sophie is absolutely right on this.

          2. Karl Stewart says:

            With respect Sophie, making bathrooms gender-neutral is not socialism – it’s something that 99.9 per cent of people actively don’t want.

            The best way to cater appropriately for trans-sexual people in this regard would be to make disabled bathroom facilities available to them.

          3. Sophie says:

            Hi Karl, I’m sorry but we’re definitely going to have to disagree here- your 99.9% statistic is absolute tosh, studies have shown that the majority of people in this country, when understanding the importance of gender neutral bathrooms support them.

            There are also myriad reasons why trans* people (please don’t say trans-sexual) shouldn’t have to use the disabled bathroom, majority that it takes these facilities away from disabled people.

            I’m sorry that you think gender equality and trans* equality aren’t part of socialism, however if you see socialism as the right of all people to the same facilities/treatment/etc (essentially, equality), then you have to accept that making bathrooms gender-neutral is part of that.

          4. Karl Stewart says:

            Response to Sophie at 11.53am:

            I haven’t said anywhere that gender equality and trans equality are not part of socialism.

            My initial response to George’s article make clear that certainly the rights of trans-sexual people are extremely important and that George is absolutely right to highlight it.

            But the idiotic notion of imposing ‘gender-neutral’ bathrooms on everyone certainly has nothing whatsoever to do with socialism.

            According to this BBC online article:

            http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/XZjhcLhQW08Ylw5b0p9xgH/gender-dysphoria-transgender

            “…The Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) estimates that about 1% of the British population are gender nonconforming to some degree. The numbers of trans boys and trans girls are about equal…”

            Which makes the numbers of non-trans people 99 per cent.

            If the 1 per cent figure is correct, then this is a great deal fewer than the numbers of people with disabilities – which the Disability Living Foundation:

            http://www.dlf.org.uk/content/key-facts

            puts at 19 per cent of the UK working age population.

            So to address the issue of bathroom facilities for trans-sexual people by enabling them to use disabled toilet facilities would be a fairer way than inconveniencing and embarrassing everyone – the 99 per cent.

            People would not use toilet facilities at all if ‘gender-neutrality’ was imposed on them. People would be too embarrassed to use them.

            This ‘gender-neutral toilets’ nonsense is the opposite of socialism. It’s a bit of silly nonsense which takes away from the very real issue of how society needs to change to become more sensitive and understanding towards trans-sexual people.

            The issue of class discrimination, certainly in terms of how ‘young people in politics’ is addressed on this site and in the Labour Party in general is a serious concern.

            When this site, and the Labour Party, as well as other political parties, approach the question of ‘young people in politics’, it’s invariably only middle-class young people who are university students that they focus on.

            It’s almost never focussed towards the majority of young people, working-class young people, who are not university students.

            This is an area of equalities, class, that is always ignored. That’s a serious concern.

          5. James Harland says:

            This argument is based upon an entirely false premise. You have stated that 99% of people are not in favour of gender neutral bathrooms, then used data showing 99% of people are not trans to reinforce that point.

            Those two statistics are not the same. I am a cis male. I am in favour of gender neutral bathrooms. Obviously I alone cannot determine the statistical significance of a trend but the only way to refute Sophie’s point here would be to provide evidence showing popular support for gender neutral bathrooms, and Sophie has suggested that such data exists.

            I absolutely agree that the neglect of attention to class and young people out of the student movement is a deep problem, and I wouldn’t be opposed to some measures (such as merging Labour Students with Young Labour to help eliminate student dominance in the movement) to achieve that. But there are plenty of student activists, including George and Sophie, who share those views. It’s not clear why you are raising the issue other than as an attempt to deflect from the no-less-important need to address the marginalisation of trans people in our society.

          6. Sophie says:

            Karl I’m honestly horrified that you think ensuring trans* and disabled people are safe and comfortable to go to the bathroom is “inconveniencing and embarrassing everyone”. Is that really your experience of non-gendered bathrooms?
            A further issue is the long standing medicalisation of being trans*, which is a reason in itself that many of us are uncomfortable using the disabled bathroom. Please do more research on this subject before posting such, frankly hurtful and misinformed remarks. This is just further proving the point that we need trans* representation!

          7. Karl Stewart says:

            Response to Sophie at 1.19pm:

            I’m sorry that you’re “horrified” that someone disagrees with you on a very small part of your viewpoint.

            Sophie, with respect, you are going to encounter people in life who will sometimes disagree with you.

            I’ve put forward a potential solution here which inconveniences no-one and works for everyone – I genuinely don’t see why such a suggestion can be “horrifying” to anyone.

            War, death and destruction are horrifying Sophie. Someone mildly disagreeing with you is not. Please keep a sense of proportion.

            On the other hand, you’ve put forward a suggestion that inconveniences 99 per cent of the population.

            I’m not “horrified,” but I just think it’s sad that you put forward something so clearly ridiculous that it will trviialise the whole – extremely serious issue – of how we can all educate ourselves and others of the real discrimination and everyday difficulties that this group within society faces and of what we can all do to improve matters.

            My raising of the issue of class discrimination is not with the intention of deflecting attention away from the issue of trans-sexual people’s rights, but to ask why, once again, we’ve got an article on here about ‘young people in politics’ which is, once again, solely focussed on middle-class young people who are university students.

            This site repeatedly does this. The only ‘young people in politics’ that seem to matter on this site are middle-class young people who are university students.

            It’s an important issue – but my raising it doesn’t mean I don’t also think that society’s treatment of people who are trans-sexual (or ‘cis-male’ as James describes himself).

          8. James Martin says:

            I’m sorry Sophie, but identity and class are not the same at all, and it is this silliness that is potentially going to be damaging to the labour movement if it goes unchallenged. Class is about the relationship and position you have in relation to capitalist production and power. It is what binds black workers with white workers, male workers and female workers, gay workers and straight workers, Scottish workers with English workers. It is what forms collective opportunities to challenge the power of capital. It doesn’t matter whether someone does not think that they are working class, their actual relationship to the means of production and the workplace is unchanged by their personal ideology. I am not opposed in the slightest to self-organisation within things like trade union and Labour Party structures by black workers, women workers, LGBT workers etc. if they think that is useful. But the key is that the union or Party still unites, still organises collectively. This is not my perception of the current dire state of what passes as student politics in this country, and your frankly daft belief that unisex bogs are ‘everyday acts of socialism’ has done nothing to alter that.

          9. James Harland says:

            Karl, cis people are non-trans people. That’s my point. I’m part of the 99% that you allege will be ‘inconvenienced’ and I’m stating I don’t care. You don’t know how many others do either. Back up your assertions that 99% of people don’t want gender neutral bathrooms or your arguments are weak, weak, weak.

      2. James Harland says:

        And neither of you have supplied a single piece of evidence that any of us supporting this article are opposed to class politics. We are not. I recognise the centrality of our relationship with the means of production to the constitution of our existence as human subjects. It’s perfectly possible to do so and still believe that the proposals made by George in this article are important, and it’s really not clear why others find this so threatening.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Sorry James I hadn’t come across the term “cis-man” before and I assumed it meant something like a trans person who’s more ‘male-orientated’ than ‘female-orientated’.

          Thanks for the explanation of the term James. (Although if a “cis-man” is just a man, it does somewhat beg the questions, why not just say: “man”?)

          OK, you want to share toilet facilities with women – seems a very peculiar ‘demand’ to make the central plank of a campaign for trans equality, especially when there’s a simple, workable and zero-problem-creating solution that’s utterly obvious to all of us.

          It’s as if you actively don’t want a solution, but that you want to put forward something very silly so that you can then ‘be offended’ when people tell you how unbelievably silly you’re being.

          I haven’t said you are opposed to class politics either. My point here is much more of a general one that there seems to me to be a general assumption, on this site, in the Labour Party, and indeed across politics, that ‘young people in politics’ means middle-class young people who are university students.

          That’s a much more general observation of mine James, and not a particular criticism of you or your fellow ‘pro-silly-toilet-proposal’ advocates.

          My criticism on that subject is simply that this suggestion is ludicrous and trivialises what is a highly important subject.

          Surely there are far, far more important issues being faced by trans people in society. Such as employment discrimination perhaps? Or access to public services? Inheritance maybe? Or adoption? Or, you know, maybe some serious issues not involving toilets?

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            I think the majority of trans people would agree with my suggestion rather than with yours James.

          2. James Martin says:

            ‘cis man’ (new one on me too Karl) sounds like a something out of an advert for kitchen cleaner. But this laughable made up language stuff that no one else understands is yet another sign of the non-labour movement imported US nonsense that has nothing to do with the struggle for socialism and workers control.

    2. George Norman says:

      Hi James,
      Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I’ll set a couple of things straight; I sit on the NPF for young members in Yorkshire, and I very much see my job as doing what my members want. At the moment that’s fighting for the issues above, and I also feel that fills an important space in a policy commission that has a lot of members fighting for other issues.

      This focuses heavily on student activism because that’s where most of these issues come to the fore; I agree wholeheartedly that the youth movement needs to get less student orientated and I fight for that at every corner, but it’s a long term challenge, not a quick fix. If it helps you take me more seriously, I’m a proud and active trade unionist and campaigner for all sorts of things outside my student politics.

      I agree wholeheartedly that at the foundation of our party and movement is the principle of giving power to the powerless. ‘Class’ in economic terms is a clunky way of defining power, though. Women are payed less, bame people are payed less, disabled and trans people are payed less. Not only do these people have less power in economic terms, but they have less power socially, politically, and culturally. A capitalist system is opposed to these communities having power, so it tries to crush us all together.

      What intersectionalism means, in old fashioned trade union terminology, is solidarity. It means solidarity with everyone, so that no-one, from whatever community, is left behind. That extends to and includes working class people.

      Your parent sounds like an incredible person. I’ll just say this; trans people can do incredible things to change the world. I have more than one friend who is trans who have already changed the world that I see, and I’m 22. I think they deserve solidarity and the same human rights as the rest of us.

  2. Bazza says:

    A few years ago I used to post in a pen name on The New Statesman (before it became a bit Anti-Corbyn) and I had read about how a Daily Mail columnist had hounded a transgender teacher who tragically eventually committed suicide.
    I had said in a post that the Transgender community was perhaps small and perhaps weak and this is what bullies like the Mail like, so who would stand up for the Transgender community?
    To their credit I think it was Stonewall took up the gauntlet and LGB became LGBT.
    James is correct that class is central but we should also fight for equality for diverse working class/working people too – black and white, men and women, young and old, LGBT and Disabled.

  3. David Pavett says:

    There are many groups which are marginalised and treated unfairly by our society. A brief Labour policy statement on equalities therefore needs to have some sense of proportion on the relative social scale of various problems. We still live in a society in which women are frequently paid less than men for doing the same work and in which employers feel they can impose unreasonable dress codes on them in a way that would be unthinkable with men. We live in a society in which there is still massive prejudice against people on perceived racial/ethnic grounds. It is also a society in which all too many old people find that they have become invisible and that no one listens to them and job opportunities have long since disappeared over the horizon. Surely these are the core issues Labour should be addressing. LGBT issues are important but they will never be solved while the dominant forms of inequality remain. Proposals for dealing with those issues need to be embedded within a broader framework of dealing with the dominant forms of discrimination. On that basis I find this response to the Work, Pensions & Equalities policy document completely inadequate. Besides, it makes no specific proposals. I hope that we can have another, more considered, response.

    1. George Norman says:

      Thanks for the reply. Yeah, I’ll set a couple of things straight; I sit on the NPF for young members in Yorkshire, and I very much see my job as doing what my members want. At the moment that’s fighting for the issues above, and I also feel that fills an important space in a policy commission that has a lot of members fighting for other issues. If you’ve read the policy submission it’s pretty clear that we need to deal with those forms of discrimination, and there is no major admittance that, for instance, the pay gap impacts trans people more than most groups. I’d agree that there are more big issues, but that this is one of the big equality issues.

      I also pitched this piece more as a summary of what I’ve been doing on the commission than as a response to the commission, so it’s lost some detail there.

      Personally, the way I see policy commissions, members should not necessarily be making policy proposals, but encouraging grassroots members to do so. I can see why others disagree, but I think it’s an important thing to bear in mind with equalities; because marginalised people should be the ones proposing.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Thanks for the response. The policy documents are supposed to be the basis of national policy. Members of the commissions should therefore, in my view, see themselves as something more than representatives of particular groups or interests. If you wait for policy proposals to form national policy to bubble from the grassroots then experience would indicate that you will wait for a period of time that far exceeds the election cycle. In my view a more activists an more nationally engaged approach is required.

  4. Richard MacKinnon says:

    What is a ‘full time trans officer’?

    1. George Norman says:

      Hey!
      The National Union of Students now has a full time officer (payed for the year) to fight for the rights of transgender students. Hope that’s clear!

      1. Richard MacKinnon says:

        Thanks for that George.
        My next question is, if you don’t mind, what would they do all day? How do they ‘fight for the rights of trans gender students’? Seriously, what would the job description be for this post? and who do they report to?

      2. Karl Stewart says:

        Hey George,

        Mate, it’s “paid” not “payed”.

  5. Karl Stewart says:

    Thanks for the article George.

    You’re right that it’s important to ensure that people who are trans-sexual are appropriately catered for in terms of meeting their needs.

    The issue of toilet facilities, for example, can be addressed by trans people being able to use the disabled facilities. Those are already gender-neutral facilities.

    This would cater for this group of people while also meeting the needs of everyone else who want male/female separate facilities.

    But it isn’t only toilet facilities, there needs to be a far better understanding towards people who have been born with both male and female body parts. And there must be better education to get away from the ‘snigger snigger’ attitude that is so widespread and a genuine sensitivity and understanding, which can eliminate prejudice towards this group of people.

    So it’s great that you’ve highlighted this subject George. And thanks again for the article.

    There is another form of prejudice, which seems to go almost completely unremarked whenever there is discussion of ‘young people in politics’ and that’s class prejudice.

    There is this automatic assumption, by the Labour Party, and also by other political parties, that the only group of young people that are worth recruiting and organising among are middle-class young people – university students.

    An assumption that ‘young people in politics’ equals ‘student politics’.

    It’s very discriminatory towards working-class young people. Towards the majority of young people who are not university students.

    Labour is supposed to be the party of the working class, not the party of the middle class. So why is there always this focus on university students and ‘student politics’?

    Why not an association of Labour-supporting apprentices for example?

    Why not a focus on organising among unemployed young people?

    Until Labour can start to organise among working-class young people, Labour will continue to get middle-class Parliamentary candidates and MPs, who will continue to take the Labour Party away from its working-class roots.

    So lets ignore ‘student politics’ – it’s irrelevant frankly. And let’s build a working-class young members’ movement.

  6. David Pavett says:

    It surely tells us a lot about the state of the left and its readiness for the business of government that there is more discussion here about gender-neutral bathrooms than about the proposal for publicly owned nuclear power in the thread responding to the Energy and Environment Policy Commission draft.

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      While I agree that the proposal to impose gender-neutral bathrooms on everyone is utterly ludicrous, I would say that the wider issue of raising awareness of discrimination against trans-sexual people and how we, as a society and as socialists can learn more about this and how to combat it is of extreme importance.

      1. David Pavett says:

        It’s just that the horrendous scale of social inequalities in the UK suggests to me that a response to a LP policy document on equalities should deal with such issues as progressive taxation, land values and a wealth tax and that these issues should not be crowed out by debate about gender-neutral bathrooms. I want responses to the policy documents that can be put to LP branches and CLPs.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          David, this is one discussion, ever, about trans-sexuals’ rights.

          Once that this subject has ever been raised on here.

          Surely the subject warrants at least some attention?

    2. James Harland says:

      Maybe because we’re all here likely to be in agreement that publicly-owned nuclear power is a good thing, whereas you are inexplicably opposed to making the case for rights for marginalised groups?

      1. David Pavett says:

        No, I am note “inexplicably” opposed to making the case for marginalised groups because I am not opposed to that at all. My point is the complete lack of balance in left wing debate in which these issues loom much larger than the core issues of political an economic policy.

        The truth of this is borne out by your response in which you say there is likely to be agreement on publicly-owned nuclear power. You seem unaware that there is a strong presumption against nuclear power on the left and that the arguments for and against have virtually never been discussed. That you can make such a mistake pretty much bears out my point.

        I am more than happy for issues of marginalised groups to be discussed but if it is not in the context of a broader debate about the big and rather more difficult issues of core political and economic issues then I believe that it is unbalanced and even politically sterile.

  7. C MacMackin says:

    I must say, I’m inclined to agree with David Pavett here. Speaking as a gay man, I obviously want Labour to be strong on LGBT issues. However, this article only addresses these issues. Indeed, it only really addresses the T of LGBT. Of course, trans people are the most marginalised of the LGBT and is the group for which the most remains to be done, but that doesn’t mean they should be the only ones receiving attention. Similarly, issues of women’s rights, racism, neglect of the elderly, equitable treatment of the disabled, etc. also urgently need attention.

    I found that this piece was also tending towards one of the more unhealthy aspects of identity politics, where people are constantly having to apologise for not being a member of a sufficiently marginalised group. Certainly, we need to encourage those in marginalised groups to become involved and to formulate demands, but we do need to be careful not to take that to the point where anyone else feels almost guilty for expressing solidarity, lest it be construed as speaking in place of the victims.

    Also, speaking as the author of the article on energy policy, I have to say that the idea “we’re all here likely to be in agreement that publicly-owned nuclear power is a good thing” is news to me. To the extent that the Left has paid any attention to energy policy, it has focused solely on renewables. Most Left groups are opposed to nuclear power. I noticed that, when my first pro-nuclear article was published, all of the “related posts” were anti-nuclear ones by Michael Meacher. Even public ownership of energy seems to have at best lukewarm support within Labour. I’ve seen far more arguments for cooperative and/or local ownership than I have for nationalisation. Near the end of Corbyn’s first election campaign his website published an essay by Meacher calling for a market of small community energy producers and suppliers, apparently mourning the fact that there is not enough choice in the British electricity market. To my knowledge, my articles are the only ones calling for a vertically-integrated public monopoly with an end to the electricity wholesale market. David is quite right to express concern that the Left seems to spend far more time on fairly obscure social policy than on, e.g., figuring an energy policy capable of saving us from climate change.

  8. Karl Stewart says:

    I disagree with DavidP and JohnP here. This is the first time I’ve seen trans-sexuals issues discussed on this site and it’s the first time I’ve ever been in a discussion on this subject, so it’s untrue to claim it’s a subject that’s discussed too much, or to the exclusion of everything else.

    Notwithstanding my differences with Sophie, JamesH and George over their proposals, I am grateful to them for highlighting the issue and making me think seriously about it.

    Back when I was in my first job, at an engineering factory, there was a sex-change lady who came to work in our canteen and some of the older guys there had known her as a male fitter who had worked there several years before, but had had a breakdown and had left.

    I remember some people there were hostile to her – a bit of quote nasty backhand comments etc – but others were more friendly. Although I don’t recall active support.

    I tried to speak to her a couple of times, but she didn’t reply – I think probably because it was the younger apprentices mainly who were quite cruel.

    I’d hope that now, someone like this would get more support.

    Anyway, a very important issue and I’m very pleased it’s been aired and it’s certainly made me think.

    1. C MacMackin says:

      JohnP hasn’t replied here, so perhaps you were referring to my comment? I did not even mean to claim that trans issues are discussed “too much”. Having an article about them on this website is absolutely well and good. The point I was making is that an article on Equalities policy needs to cover a broad range of issues around equality and discrimination–not just the one.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Sorry to JohnP, yes my mistake, apologies John.

        I think it’s OK to have an article on equalities that focusses on trans equality – it’s an area which is very rarely discussed.

        1. James Harland says:

          Thanks for that reply, Karl. And as someone who is frequently accused of attempting to shut down discussions about other liberation areas when I raise class (not by people on the left but more those I would call centrist liberals, largely), I understand the concern. I think there’s a danger of taking it too far the other way, though, and doing the same in reverse (indeed, it is partly – though not entirely – the left’s historic failure to address these issues that produced some of the reaction and dismissal of class politics you and I have both experienced), and that was why I reacted quite forcefully, here.

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