Eddie Izzard on her fight for fairness, selfish Tories and the ‘brilliant’ response to her MP bid
Eddie Izzard opens up about her political ambitions, her fears for LGBTQ+ rights under the Conservative Party, and fighting for a fairer future.
It’s been three-and-a-half weeks since Eddie Izzard declared her bid to become the Labour MP for Sheffield when we speak, a period which has been largely filled with headlines chronicling the abuse she has received for daring to enter politics as a trans person.
But that’s not the full picture, Eddie says. In fact, she says the reaction to her candidacy has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The reaction is 98 per cent brilliant,” Eddie tells PinkNews.
“There are some transphobic people who are throwing abuse at me and people have looked at it, it’s quite loud, but it seems to be a tiny minority.”
In real life, Eddie has only had two people make comments to her about her gender identity. In Sheffield, she’s been welcomed “across the board” by residents as a new Labour candidate.
She arrived in the city in 1980. Eddie studied in Sheffield, launched her entertainment career there, and now wants to represent it in parliament to help “achieve its true potential”.
In terms of how far her ambitions go, Eddie says she would “love to help out as a minister” in government one day – but she’s less sure on the idea of being prime minister.
“I’m ready to go, the Labour Party is ready to go, and I’d like to get into parliament soon,” she says.
She doesn’t want her campaign – or herself – to be defined by her gender. But politics across the board is currently consumed with debating trans lives – the latest Tory prime minister, Rishi Sunak, looks set to roll back protections for trans people, while the new equalities minister Kemi Badenoch has a long history of trans hostility.
“I’m very worried about LGBTQ+ rights,” Eddie says.
“I think they [the Tories] are trying to stoke up fires, trying to create fights where there are no fights.”
The Tory government is just about themselves.
She reflects on her own wider “world vision”, which is one where everyone “has a fair chance in life”.
“I think the Labour Party are in agreement with that and that’s what we’re pushing for.
“This government is not. Liz Truss got in and she tried to do tax breaks for the rich. It’s always for the few, not the many.”
She fears the UK is “on its knees” right now, financially, and wants a windfall tax to help with the cost of living crisis.
“Why don’t the gas and the oil companies also get on their knees, or at least on their haunches? Why do we take this hit and their shareholders are doing amazingly well from this windfall?”
Eddie adds: “The trickle down theory of economics – why is it called the trickle down theory? Even their marketing people didn’t think, ‘Why don’t we call it the ‘flow down’ theory? Why isn’t it flowing down? It’s trickling down, it’s pennies and crumbs. That’s what they want people to be living off.
“Always the Tory government is just about themselves.”
Eddie Izzard doesn’t have the answers on ‘heated’ trans discussion
It’s not just the Tories that are facing scrutiny. Labour leader Keir Starmer has recently been criticised for comments made in a Mumsnet interview about trans youth, consent, and trans participation in sport.
Eddie Izzard supports Starmer – as she’s supported all Labour leaders, she says. She doesn’t want to “wade in and start coming up with soundbites about who took this position and that position”, acknowledging: “I think these questions are very difficult for our time.”
She recalls a recent conversation she had with a gay rights activist in the United States.
“He said to me, ‘I think a lot of the discussion and arguments and noise that’s happening about trans issues at the moment is kind of like the discussions and the heated debates that were happening around gay and lesbian communities 20 years ago.’ And we probably have to go through this phase.”
When I came out in ’85 I wasn’t even considered a person.
She continued: “Now, when I came out in ’85 there was no discussion, I wasn’t even considered a person. I was like a non-person or a toxic person, definitely not a person who’s part of society.
“So even though these discussions are quite heated it’s better than nothing at all. And we will get through it. So I’m not going to take positions on this and that, I don’t have all the answers, I just know that I exist, I’ve been honest – I knew when I was five, I came out when I was 23.
“Thirty-seven years – if anyone’s got a problem, I gave everyone 37 years notice. I don’t know what they want – 38 years notice? I don’t know quite what the difficulty is.”
She insists that she doesn’t have “all the answers” – and says nobody else does either.
“We just need to keep moving forward and talking and being open and discussing. And I will keep existing.
“And hopefully I will be in parliament as a trans MP, but it won’t define me, it’ll just be a part of me. My energy and my wish that everybody has a fair chance in life, that will define me.”
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