India Willoughby says Keir Starmer’s Labour party has thrown trans people ‘under the bus’

Broadcaster and trans activist India Willoughby has voiced her support for a new political campaign that aims to provide an alternative for left-leaning voters in the current “broken political system”.

Transform, which launched earlier this year, wants to create a “new party of the left” founded on principles that include representing the working class in “all its diversity”, feminism and anti-racism, eradicating regional inequality and welcoming migrants. 

The political organisation was founded after months of criticism of Labour and the party’s leader, Keir Starmer, during which people accused them of moving to the right, going back on its promises and failing to challenge government policies. 

In January, Labour did not oppose the Tories using a Section 35 order to prevent Scotland’s landmark gender law reforms gaining royal assent, a stance which saw just 11 Labour MPs rebel and vote against the move.

In the subsequent months, Starmer gradually changed his stance on the dog-whistle question “what is a woman”, to echo that of prime minister Rishi Sunak, shifting from saying womanhood is “biological” for “99.9 per cent” of women to stating that “a woman is an adult female”

More recently, Labour announced it would be going back on its long-held promise to bring in self-ID for trans people, a move that shattered the transgender community’s trust in the party.  

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Labour has been accused of going back on promises to the trans community. (Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Willoughby tells PinkNews that this particular move by Labour was “deeply disappointing” for trans people.

“I, like everyone else in the trans community, couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It’s[a] betrayal, a Judas move by Keir Starmer, Anneliese Dodds, Rachel Reeves and Wes Streeting. They have thrown us under the bus purely because they don’t have the stomach to fight. 

“That is not the traditional Labour way, the Labour heroes of the past would be turning in their graves at a leader who shies away from a minority that is clearly being attacked, day in, day out, with the most horrendous lies you can imagine.”

Speaking to PinkNews about Transform, Willoughby – one of several notable figures who have given their support to the organisation – says she was impressed by the pitch from organisers and feels excited about what it could offer the UK’s political landscape. 

“I think it will appeal to both the trans and wider LGBTQ+ community,” she explains. “Essentially, they are looking to fill the gap that has been vacated by the Labour Party moving to the right – which I don’t think anyone can dispute now.

“[Labour] has dropped self-identification – which was a promise – and just 12 months ago you had Keir Starmer at London Pride holding a stick with the trans flag at the top of it.

“You have people on benefits, particularly those with more than two children, who are going to suffer. They have dropped promises made about the climate, as we look around and see the world on fire. 

“There is a big gap in the market for a party of what I would call the ‘true left’.”

India Willoughby
India Willoughby has thrown her weight behind the new political movement. (Getty for Magic Mike Live/ David M Benett)

Sharing her thoughts on the current situation with Labour – which she refers to as ‘the Keir Starmer party’ – Willoughby says the party no longer “listening to people” and is instead choosing to listen to focus groups and advisors, as a means of regaining the ‘Red Wall’ of northern seats lost to the Conservatives in 2019.

“They have lost touch,” she states. “The assumption seems to be in London that people in the north are thick, ignorant and are not interested in LGBTQ equality or other minorities. That is just not the case – northerners are just as concerned about those issues. 

“Pretending to be Tory-light isn’t going to work anyway, because if a Conservative voter is disillusioned with Rishi Sunak, they are not going to turn to Keir Starmer, they are going to turn to [other right-wing parties].” 

Willoughby acknowledges that Transform is not, as yet, an official political party but goes on to describe it as a “call to arms” for voters who have been “disenchanted” by Starmer’s Labour, as well as other left-leaning parties.

She is hopeful that by the next general election, which is due by January 2025, it will be an option for voters and could shake up current conversations. 

Willoughby also says she hopes one “brave” trans person will step forward to be a parliamentary candidate in the next election and potentially give the community a voice in Westminster. 

Her hopes will have been raised by Friday’s (4 August) news, when Suzy Eddie Izzard announced she would be running to be the Labour candidate for Brighton Pavilion at the next general election.

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