Labour accused of banning feminist group from conference

Keir Starmer’s has been accused of banning a feminist group from the party’s annual conference – while welcoming activists with “open arms”. The got underway in Liverpool this week – but novelist Joan Smith questioning whether feminists were welcome at the event, despite its overarching tone of inclusivity.

Writing for the UnHerd website, she said: “Delegates to this year’s party conference in Liverpool will be able to browse stalls outside the main hall, talking to activists about everything from climate change to animal welfare.

“What they won’t be able to do is speak to representatives of the Labour Women’s Declaration, an organisation that advocates for women’s sex-based rights and single-sex spaces.”

LWD had been “denied a stall” at the conference along with conference along with women-led volunteer organisation FiLiA, which last year organised the biggest feminist conference in Britain in decades, Ms Smith claimed.

She said: “The party claims the decision was taken on commercial grounds, which makes no sense at all. Both organisations offered to pay the going rate for a stall and said they were flexible about size and position.

Calls for a rethink fell on deaf ears, despite the pleas of Labour MPs including Dame Diana Johnson MP, currently chairwoman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, pointed out Ms Smith, who is herself the chairman of the Mayor of London’s Violence Against Women and Girls Board.

She added: “The Labour leader has repeatedly failed to condemn harassment of feminists in the party, who have been targeted by ‘pledges’ and motions threatening ‘transphobes’ with expulsion.”

The activist accused the former Director of Public Prosecutions of failing to stand up for women’s right and free speech and called Starmer “anything but an ally”.

As a result of his apparently reluctance to act, Sir Keir had deterred “substantial numbers of women” from voting Labour, Ms Smith claimed.

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Labour-supporting women have faced attacks at their meetings as activists used smoke bombs to disrupt a gathering, in what Ms Smith says is evidence of “extreme ideology” capturing the Left. 

She claims to have raised the incident with Sir Keir to his face when they met at a Labour Women’s Network dinner in April, but has yet to see any evidence of his willingness to address the issue. 

Ms Smith has also been disturbed by the sight of trans activists turning up to women’s events covering their faces with home-made masks and even balaclavas.

Threats of sexual violence are being used to “intimidate women into silence”, she writes, accusing Labour politicians of neglecting to focus on this and instead issuing “trans slogans” to the public.

Of particular concern, Ms Smith says, is the way in which violence against women is being overlooked. She says that “as far as we know” not on trans woman has been murdered in Britain since 2018.

She argues that this reality is not reflected by trans activists, who claim that trans women are more likely to be killed than biological females, despite two or three women being killed every week in the UK by former or current partners.

Referring to a fringe meeting organised by the Labour Women’s Declaration, to be chaired by Tonia Antoniazzi, Labour MP for Gower and Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland, Ms Smith said there are “honourable exceptions” such as Rosie Duffield MP in the party.

But on the whole, she says, the party has got the issue “badly” wrong and Starmer risks being remembered as the man who let misogyny “run riot” in Labour. has contacted the Labour Party for comment.

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