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Gary Powell is a former councillor in Buckinghamshire.

The Conservative Party’s drift towards the accommodation and endorsement of wokeism and extreme gender ideology is something the electorate may one day cause it to regret. In this new era of identity politics insanity, the very definition of “woman” has come under attack, to the extent that insisting biological men cannot really become women, can set the pitchfork mob off on a mission of reputational destruction.

Regardless of what kind of mysterious inner ontology anyone claims to possess, our common language is clear about the definition of male and female humans, and evolution has made us adept at recognising the difference between the two without requiring the inspection of anyone’s putatively “gendered” soul or needing to ask what anyone’s pronouns are.

Woe betide you, however, if you are a woman and you have the temerity to assert, as did Labour’s Rosie Duffield MP, that “only women have a cervix”. Male heretics may get off more lightly, but if you are a woman who says this, you risk all Hell being unleashed against you in this appalling age.

Which brings me to the recent public rebuke of Duffield by Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, the new Leader of Canterbury City Council.

Earlier this month, Fitter-Harding wrote for Kent Online, where he shared inter alia how pleased he was to have been elected as council leader as an openly gay man. He announced his intention to speak at the forthcoming Pride Canterbury, which he described as “an incredibly important day for supporting diversity and inclusion”.

Now, when you have been a gay rights activist for as long as I have, you will know that, these days, “diversity and inclusion” means “unquestioning conformity on pain of exclusion”, making you vulnerable if you do not submit to every tenet of the LGBTQ+ gender politics credo. Orwell was remarkably prescient regarding the rainbow Newspeak.

Duffield is a courageous MP who, in this oppressive and increasingly totalitarian identity politics culture, realises how important the recognition of biological reality is for human rights. In his article, however, Fitter-Harding informs us that, “Members of our [LGBTQ+] community are still hurting, and they need us now more than ever.” He goes on to denounce Duffield as a perpetrator of this misery inflicted on the LGBTQ+ “community”, which has added so many letters and identities to its name that the fact it ever started off as “gay and lesbian” before it was colonised by extreme gender ideology and whatever else, seems to have become an irrelevance.

Duffield, so Fitter-Harding tells us, “has once again come under fire for liking transphobic tweets” and he accuses her of “supporting sweeping claims about who can and who cannot be a woman”. He continues:

That this woman in particular, who was so celebrated by the LGBTQ+ community when she defeated Julian Brazier in 2017, could now inflict such pain upon it is something many of us find hard to bear.

“Such pain” … “hard to bear”? Is he serious? Gay people in Afghanistan are now at risk of being stoned or crushed to death by the Taliban. That is what I find “hard to bear”: not hearing the standard definition of the word “woman”.

Kent Online later published a piece reporting on Duffield’s Twitter response to these preposterous accusations. Although the mob was first set off when Ms Duffield opined that “only women have a cervix”, the Initialism Inquisition later took grave offence once again, leading to a clamouring that she should lose the Labour whip, after she had “liked” yet another tweet that had not received the LGBTQ+ imprimatur of approval: a tweet that had criticised the use of the appalling word “queer” by the LGBTQ+ lobby and had rejected the suggestion that a heterosexual can suddenly become homosexual simply by asserting a different “gender”.

Duffield’s Twitter thread defence included the following:

I have actively fought for gay rights (and all human rights) all of my life. A fact that is well-known, well-documented and everyone who knows me can testify. I chose to make my first MP speech, after less than 2 hours sleep, at Canterbury’s first Pride event. It went viral…

I also have feminist and gender critical beliefs which mean that whilst I’ve always fully supported the rights of all trans people to live freely as they choose, I do not accept self-ID as a passport for male-bodied biological men to enter protected spaces for biological women.

That includes DV [domestic violence] refuges, women’s prisons, single-sex wards and school toilets. I believe the majority of people also support this view. The mostly male aggression and verbal abuse about this has resulted in changes to my personal safety and security arrangements…

That is misogyny. Some angry strangers, none of whom have ever met me, have decided what I believe and that it is ‘transphobic’, which seems to others piling on to be the worst of all possible crimes. My sins? To agree that male-bodied people should not be included in lists of murdered women; to have ‘liked’ tweets such as Piers Morgan’s ‘You mean women?’ when he read a health advice post about ‘people with a cervix’.

While there may be a very small number of people who now identify as men and still have female organs, the vast majority of women should not have to rename our bodies or ourselves accordingly. We have fought forever for our own names, our own spaces, to own our own bodies, our rights and our votes. As have all gay people too.

If my views of feminism, women’s rights and women’s basic physical safety offend some men like this cllr (or this newspaper) then that reflects pretty badly on him. I did not ask him what his views were on women’s rights. But this newspaper did not hesitate to print them anyway, despite not asking me for my views…

“I will continue to support LGBT rights as I have done all of my life, whether stranger men (sic) say so or not. Erasure of women’s views, voices, and work in the community is why feminism is now more important than ever and misogyny such as this is growing. We must always speak up.”

Just a day after Duffield posted her Twitter thread, it was announced by Steerpike in the Spectator that the threat to her personal safety had caused her to decide not to attend the Labour Party conference. So much for freedom of expression and association in today’s Britain: continuously eroded on the Conservative watch, no less.

Fitter-Harding’s public condemnation of Duffield for her sensible beliefs may well have also had a chilling effect on councillors in the Conservative Group of which he is Leader, and those who agree with Duffield on this issue will now surely fear similar censure, and even sanction, should they make their views known.

The Conservative Party is becoming increasingly anti-conservative as it panders to socially destructive lobby groups. A cross-party pushback against this insane and vicious cultural vandalism is, however, growing apace; and brave people on the Left such as Duffield, who are fighting back valiantly, deserve the full support of every conservative.