Sir Keir Starmer will lose the general election campaign “on day one” unless he shifts his position on transgender rights, party strategists have warned.
Advisers have been telling the Labour leader since late 2021 to “deal with” the issue and explain to voters that “self-ID is not going to happen”.
Sir Keir’s position has evolved in recent days. At an event in Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday, he said: “I think that if we reflect on what’s happened in Scotland, the lesson I take from that is that if you’re going to make reforms, you have to carry the public with you.
“And I think that’s a very important message, and I think that’s why it’s clear that in Scotland there should be a reset of the situation.”
This contrasts with a commitment two years ago to introduce “self-declaration for trans people“.
Self-identification makes it easier for trans people to change their legal gender, but critics argue this can put women at risk by allowing predatory men to access single-sex spaces.
A senior Labour source told Sky News they fear Conservatives will weaponise the issue at the general election.
“If Keir is still being asked by the time the election campaign begins ‘what is a woman?’ then he’s lost on day one,” they said.
“Scotland is a warning to him. He needs to make his position much clearer.
“There are ways the gender recognition process can be improved but self-ID is not going to happen under a Labour government.”
The source suggested that Sir Keir’s reluctance to explain his position may be due to a concern he will upset younger Labour members.
“It goes against his instincts to have a confrontation, but too many people don’t know where we stand on trans issues now,” the source said.
On Thursday, the Labour for Trans Rights group released an email template for supporters to send their local MP voicing their concerns about Sir Keir’s latest comments, which they say is “signalling his intention not to support” Gender Recognition Act (GRA) reforms.
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It calls on him to “commit to reforming” the GRA, “to stand by his previous commitments to LGBTQ+ people and to stand on the right side of history”.
“Trans rights are not a political football,” the letter adds.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s controversial plans to reform gender recognition legislation in Scotland led to splits within her party.
The bill was ultimately blocked by the UK government, which argued it conflicted with GB-wide equalities law.
The Labour Party has been approached for comment.