Canterbury MP forced to stay away from Labour party conference after extremist threats

Labour MP for Canterbury Rosie Duffield
Rosie Duffield chairs the Women's Parliamentary Labour Party

The Labour MP for Canterbury, Rosie Duffield, has won the support of the Speaker of the House of Commons, after claims she's been terrorised by transgender extremists.

Duffield, 50, who won the seat in 2017, told the Sunday Times she's been forced to pull out of the Labour party conference in Brighton next week after receiving on-line threats from militant activists.

The paper reports it's prompted Sir Lindsay Hoyle to make an unprecedented intervention over the security of politicians, warning that elected representatives should be able to appear publicly without "fear of harm."

Duffield, who chairs the Women's Parliamentary Labour Party, told the paper she has been branded transphobic for “knowing that only women have a cervix”.

She has also pointed out that it might not be appropriate for people with male bodies who identify as women to enter female-only spaces.

“LGBT+ Labour now seem to hate my guts and I feared they’d have a massive go at me at conference,” Duffield said. “The people who threaten me I don’t think are actually likely to harm me. They just say it often and very loudly.”

Duffield yesterday won the support of Hoyle, who was speaking at a conference to crack down on on-line trolling and ensure the safety of elected politicians.

House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle

Hoyle said: “Parliamentarians, who have been elected to speak up for their constituents, should be able to attend their own party conference without fear of harm.

Too many people have been targeted for their opinion or the office they hold. In order to protect democracy, we need to ensure those participating can do so without threats of intimidation.”

Duffield, who chairs the Women’s Parliamentary Labour Party, took the decision not to attend conference after being advised it was “not a good idea”. She said: “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 argues that her interest in the debate stems from her desire to want women to feel safe. “Women have to feel safe in their own single-sex services and spaces like loos,” she said. “I have plenty of transgender friends who are completely OK with everything I say and we are able to have a completely civil dialogue about it.”

She added: “The more abuse you get, the more nervous you are. I find myself doing live television or speaking events and really carefully reframing what I want to say. That can make me quite angry, because it means I am not being myself, so it does really affect you.”

The furore around Duffield first blew up in August last year after she was branded a “transphobe” on Twitter after liking a tweet by the broadcaster Piers Morgan.

He had taken issue with a CNN post that referred to “individuals with a cervix” in a reminder about the importance of having regular screening tests for cervical cancer. Morgan replied: “Do you mean women?”