Wednesday 1 May 2024

Normal Service Must Be Resumed

George Galloway might have phrased it slightly better, although it was neither a written article nor a scripted speech, but that the relationship of mother, father and children is the norm, that it is normative, and that it must be so if the human race were not to become extinct, is so obvious that it is impossible to see what there could be to dispute.

The Blair and Brown Governments used to state it from the despatch boxes of both Houses, to the batting of almost no eyelids there or anywhere else. John Smith held it to his dying day, as did Frank Field to his rather more recent one. Both always voted in favour of gay rights, as did George, right up to a vote for same-sex marriage that he says drew no negative reaction either among his Bradford West constituents or within Respect. That George has been married four times has nothing to do with the principle. Field was never married.

As George presumably never expects to see same-sex marriage in the Catholic Church, where it will always be impossible, so Kate Forbes does not expect to see it in the Free Church of Scotland, which once had a powerful Modernist wing but which long ago ceased to have one. She has said that she might have voted against it as civil legislation, but that she would leave it as it was. An active member of the Free Church of Scotland asked a well-received question of Rishi Sunak today. Did Ian Paisley's views preclude him from being First Minister? In relation to those issues, what became of Northern Ireland while he was?

Even on abortion, Forbes is only of the same "personally opposed, but wouldn't change the law" school as Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, in stark contrast to Field most of the time, to Smith or to Charles Kennedy all the time, or to George all the time. Neoliberal capitalism cannot exist without abortion, hence the support for it from Blair, Clinton, Biden and Pelosi, while the likes of Billy Bragg like it because it lets them off the hook. Bringing us to the fact that the campaign against Forbes is about something else. Forbes has said that a transwoman was a "biological male who identifies as a woman", that "a rapist cannot be a woman", and that Isla Bryson was a "man".

By the way, the emphasis on biological sex as existing from conception raises huge questions for many of the staunchest opponents of gender ideology. What is biologically male from the point of conception cannot be "part of a woman's body". That is as unanswerable as when we point out the incomparable misogyny of the suggestion that something could simultaneously be insentient and be part of a woman's body. Is it the whole of a woman's body that is insentient? Or is it only the parts that are directly concerned with reproduction? If cells with Y chromosomes, including those of a penis, can be part of a woman's body until birth, then why can they not be so from self-identification onwards?

In April 2019, Forbes signed a call on the Scottish Government to delay changing the Gender Recognition Act, and although she was on maternity leave when Holyrood voted on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, she stated that she would not have supported it. So the coronation of John Swinney proceeds apace, while the Cass Report may as well never have been published for all the difference that it is making to the popular culture in which these matters are decided. The soaps and the nine o'clock flagship dramas are of course filmed long in advance, but things that are broadcast much sooner after completion, or even live, are making it quite clear that that Report may as well be one of those Declarations which the anti-vaxxers used to issue and then assume that everyone had heard of when only they had. If tomorrow's local election results were bad for the Conservatives, then any replacement of Sunak would be with Penny Mordaunt.

Those of us who insist on the reality of biological sex and on the normativity of the traditional family are the most uncompromising opponents of the economic, and therefore also foreign, policies that are most corrosive of the latter and of its foundation in the recognition of the former. Those who sincerely believe themselves to be on our side while supporting those policies need to examine themselves. It was Smith whose signature policy was that employment rights should begin with employment and apply regardless of the number of hours worked. While Jeremy Corbyn revived that commitment, we are hours away from its formal abandonment by Keir Starmer, who of course never had the slightest intention of giving effect to it.

But when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

I have no plan to join the Workers Party of Britain, although nor would I expect to stand against it. But if it did not contest North Durham, then I would. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. But there does need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not. We have made a start.


  1. The likes of Bastani are saying this is the definitive break with Galloway.