Dear Jeremy

Jo Bartosch
May 10, 2018 · 4 min read

I’ve fallen out of love and I’m leaving you; it has become clear that Labour isn’t working for women.

Three years ago, I was full of hope about a return to socialist politics; tearing away the spin and cynicism of New Labour to plan for a more just society. When the tabloids berated you for not being ‘man-enough’ to push the nuclear button you gained my respect. When you refused to participate in the ritual cap-doffing that surrounds the royal family I applauded your integrity. When you proclaimed that Labour is for the ‘many not the few’ I was yours. What attracted me was that for the first time in my life the Labour Party seemed proud to put principles above placating the Tory press.

The warning signs were there from the start. Perhaps I should have questioned my support when John McDonnell joked about lynching Esther McVey, or when Owen Smith said that he wanted to ‘smash’ Theresa May ‘on the back of her heels.’

Last year as #metoo swept through parliament, women within the party came out with their experiences of sexual assault from party members — the official response to #labourtoo was a weak and derisory insult to their bravery.

When I first fell for you I tried not to judge you by the company you kept. Aside from your misogynist, homophobic Islamist ‘friends’ Hamas and Hezbollah, those closer to home have some pretty medieval opinions too. I always thought a progressive socialist like you would protect those forced to sell consent rather supporting the powerful men who exploit such desperation. Yet Keith Vaz remains within the Labour Party fold. Let’s remember Vaz famously stated he would ‘break’ two migrant male prostitutes, one of whom later revealed “No one wants to do this, to sell their body. It’s a shame, people are only doing this when they have to, when they don’t have a choice.” This ought to have been a wake-up call, and yet you followed John McDonnell’s lead by proclaiming decriminalisation of pimps and punters to be a ‘more civilized’ approach to the sexual exploitation of desperate people.

I think the final straw, the one too many dirty socks left on the floor moment, was when you stood us up. We really need to talk, the Labour Party has been shedding women over the past year, a cursory glance at the #labourlosingwomen attests to this. Party members have been investigated, and in some cases expelled from the party, for making such ground-breaking observations as ‘women don’t have dicks.’ I have tried to be patient as women’s groups have begged and pleaded for an audience with you to explain our position. In the two years I have pushed to discuss this, the only politicians open-minded enough to meet with me have been from outside the Labour Party. I am tired of waiting for you to commit Jeremy, and I am disgusted by the Orwellian group-think that has infected the Labour Party.

Like many women, I’ve had some bad experiences with men. It should be noted that rates and patterns of male offending do not change when pronouns and presentation do, and it is for this reason that I and many others have legitimate concerns about gender self-declaration. This is not illogical nor bigoted, it is grounded in both fact and bitter experience. I have sympathy for the pain of one’s body seeming not to match one’s mental image. What I do not accept is that because someone states their sincerely held conviction is that they are fat, the opposite sex or an otherkin unicorn, that they actually are.

I have recently discovered that the hospitals in my area allow admissions to single sex wards on the basis of self-declared gender identity. As such, rapist transwomen such as Davina Aryton, or paedophiles such as Jasmine Hill, are allowed to share facilities with the one in five women and girls who have been sexually assaulted. This is the logical conclusion of accepting self-identification — the material reality of the many is ignored in favour of the identity of the few.

As with your support for decriminalising pimps and punters, it is the rights of women and girls — and in particular those of the most vulnerable, which are sacrificed for the votes of university poseur progressives. Like a slightly embarrassing outspoken aunt, feminists are pushed the margins of the party. It amazes me that you, a man who sports a ‘joy of sex beard’ and boasts of tending an allotment, are apparently worried that even listening to feminists will undermine your public image.

Jeremy, I can honestly say it’s not me — it’s you. You might be the archetypal ‘nice guy,’ but the party you head has a woman-problem. I hope one day we can be friends and perhaps meet — there’s so much still to say.

Yours,

An ex-Labour Woman

Jo Bartosch

Written by

Journalist campaigning for the rights of women and girls.

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