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Sorry Keir, it certainly does come up on the doorstep

By Cathy Larkman


Remember when we were all told that the issue of women’s rights ‘never comes up on the doorstep’? Various politicians of all political persuasions must be ruing the day they ever claimed that, judging by the questions at hustings and the street stalls in towns and cities in the run-up to the general election. And of course, the eagerness by which candidates and their representatives have been taken to task on the literal doorstep when they deliver their campaign leaflets. I’ve had a few such encounters myself recently. Here’s one of them.


I live in a constituency where the incumbent Labour MP enjoys a huge majority. The expression that ‘you could pin a Labour rosette on a donkey’ must have been chosen for this area. Labour have always been in power and that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon.  


The cheery chap who knocked my door, clutching his glossy leaflets for the Labour candidate wasn’t knocking every door in the street. I have no idea what made him knock mine. Fate was clearly looking down upon him that day, fate was a woman and fate was having a wicked cackle too. Clearly, he hadn’t checked the ‘witch list’ or he would have made a sharp deviation. As happy coincidence would have it, I was also wearing my beloved ‘this witch doesn’t burn’ t-shirt too. The stars were aligned.

A doorstep with a blue "Hello" door mat.

I opened the door. He brandished his glossy leaflet in my direction and, shiny eyed with confidence, asked me whether I had any views regarding the forthcoming election.


Oh reader, I did.


His eyes opened wide, and his eyebrows raised as I told him that I was very disappointed and let down as the party were betraying women’s rights. Ah, the JK Rowling thing, he said. Honestly, that woman gets absolutely EVERYWHERE. His eyebrows shot further up his forehead as I told him that not only was JK Rowling absolutely bang on the money about these issues, but that Keir Starmer was making an absolute Hogwarts of the whole ‘what is a woman’ thing.


I asked him how could I be expected to vote for a party who weren’t prepared to defend mine and my daughter’s rights to single-sex spaces?


He was starting to sweat a bit now and he ventured a ‘it’s a very difficult issue’ response. Why is this the first line of defence?


No, it’s actually not difficult, it’s very simple. You either defend women and our single-sex spaces or you don’t. I told him so and I reeled off the examples – hospital wards, intimate care, rape crisis centres, domestic violence centres, changing rooms. He then decided he was ‘erring slightly’ towards my point of view. I could see the desperation in his eyes as he tried to defend the indefensible.


Emboldened by my witchy t-shirt, I noticed his own sartorial choices that day included a rugby world cup baseball cap. Ah, sport! I asked him whether he would think it right if a women’s rugby team contained any male players self-identifying into the team. Again, he was ‘erring towards’ my point of view, but again it was ‘difficult’ and ‘these people go through hell, they really suffer’.


What about women and girls suffering through losing places on teams, having to play against men, having to share changing rooms? The sweating increased exponentially now. Again, he ‘erred’ towards my view but again, the ‘suffering’ was mentioned.


Why are you automatically reverting to prioritising men’s feelings and not the rights of over 50% of the population? Why are women’s rights expendable when it comes to what a small number of men want?


Oh but they go through ‘hell’ and have ‘all those surgeries’ he said again, surely hoping he’d appeal to my inner kindness. Nope, most men don’t have surgery, they put on a dress and expect to be called a woman, nobody actually changes their sex. Why must I lose my rights? Men aren’t losing theirs.


He asked me what Labour should do in my view. I told him – speak up for women’s rights to single-sex spaces, clarify that sex in the Equality Act means sex, reject self ID and gender ideology, and bloody well apologise to Rosie Duffield because SHE WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG. Ah, ‘is that the Canterbury woman’ he said. Yes, that’s the woman and Keir Starmer should learn from her. Her name is Rosie Duffield. Say it loud, you’ll be hearing it some more.


Interestingly, he decided to contest with me that there are nine protected characteristics, he was sure there weren’t nearly so many. I told him there were. ‘Are you a politician?’ he asked me, no doubt wondering who this woman was reeling off the Equality Act and the single-sex exemptions of which his party were so woefully ignorant.


It was hard not to imagine his thoughts - surely, he must have been entrapped by an undercover member of an opposing party. How on earth could ordinary women have all this legal knowledge? Some just can’t understand that, when you are losing your rights, you educate yourself very quickly.


I advised him that not only was I not a politician, I had never been a member of any political party and had voted Labour all my life and now could not in all conscience do so. Oh, I may also have mentioned that I expected any leader of a political party who wanted my vote to have some moral courage and integrity (which Keir Starmer had not displayed to date) and not sell women and future generations of women down the line.


He promised to feedback my response to the office as I didn’t want to hear ever again that ‘it doesn’t come up on the doorstep’. He promised that he would. As he gratefully backed away, I added, ‘And tell them I’d vote for JK Rowling if she was standing’.


Well, wouldn’t we all?






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