Bismarck famously compared laws to sausages: it is better, he said, not to see either being made. But this doesn’t mean that policy making should be conducted behind closed doors. If we’re asked to swallow new legislation, we must be able to examine the ingredients and question the manufacturing process.
Good laws are the result of engagement and discussion with experts; they are based on rigorous, peer-reviewed evidence. Conversely, dodgy statistics and appeals to emotion combined with playground name-calling is a recipe for bad legislation.
Which brings us onto Zarah Sultana MP. Last week Ms Sultana wrote to Liz Truss to complain about the latter’s evidence to the Women and Equalities Select Committee. We’ve seen this sort of thing countless times before: the emotional manipulation; the reliance on highly questionable statistics spoon-fed by Stonewall; and of course the lazy branding of opponents as hate-filled transphobes. But it’s quite another to see it from a member of parliament.
Fair Cop has outlined its concerns in more detail in yesterday’s open letter to Sir Keir Starmer. More generally, though, we suggest that Ms Sultana is not as close a watcher of the trans debate as she might wish to appear. If she were, she would realize that smearing opponents as transphobes simply doesn’t work anymore. The magic words have lost their power to silence dissent.
Ms Sultana ought to know this, having presumably followed the debate currently raging within her own party. The “hateful minority” she refers to includes the lifetime Labour members and trade unionists who founded A Woman’s Place UK and the Labour Women’s Declaration. These and other groups have long called for dialogue with the Labour leadership on this issue, even to the extent of inviting the party to make good on the Labour Campaign for Trans Rights pledge — supported by leadership candidates Angela Rayner, Lisa Nandy and Rebecca Long-Bailey — to expel them.
Labour, in common with other parties, cannot bury its head in the sand and hope this issue goes away — not after the trans issue became one of the most notable features of last year’s election. As we all remember, politicians found that Stonewall’s magic words were no match for ordinary people’s well-informed arguments against trans orthodoxy. Instead of hateful bigots, they encountered reasonable people who had clearly done their homework. Indeed, it was those who had drunk deepest from the transcult Kool-Aid who looked foolish, especially when they found themselves unable to answer the simplest of questions.
Politicians are often criticised for arriving at Westminster with no special expertise or achievements to their name. That’s a fundamental misunderstanding of their role. Advisers advise, ministers decide. And an important part of the decision-making process is to listen to those with legitimate concerns — including those who point out the untrustworthy statistics, logical inconsistencies and outright distortion peddled by special interest groups. Politicians who take Ms Sultana’s ostrich approach to inconvenient experts should not be surprised if the public makes mincemeat of them, just as they did with Jo Swinson.
When elected politicians smear those they disagree with while unquestioningly swallowing everything they are fed by a powerful and unaccountable trans lobby, we have every reason to fear the legislation that results. Instead of being formed from the prime cuts of good argument and peer-reviewed evidence, our laws will be like the cheapest of sausages, assembled from the unsavoury sweepings of the abattoir floor.
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