By Thomas Judge
A NEWLY-FORMED democratic socialist party will challenge Labour MP Rosie Duffield in Canterbury in the next general election.
The Breakthrough Party was founded as a ‘new home for those determined to disrupt the failed status quo and build an alternative’.
Now, in the wake of allegations of transphobia against Rosie Duffield, the party have explicitly stated they will contest the MPs marginal seat of Canterbury.
Party founder Alex Mays said they would be “letting them and all other trans people in Britain down” by not contesting the seat.
Rosie Duffield has faced numerous allegations of transphobia since entering parliament in 2017.
The majority of criticism came as she began liking tweets accused of being transphobic. The most infamous example was one by Piers Morgan, where he criticised CNN for using the phrase ‘individuals with a cervix’.
This incident, and other such incidents, have left her heavily criticised by LGBTQIA+ groups and individuals both inside and outside her party.
Twice staffers have left her office, stating the MP’s transphobic views as the reason for their departure. One of whom spoke to Pink News labelled her words “overtly transphobic” and said the lack of addressing this was the reason for her departure.
However, Duffield has denied being transphobic, having previously stated: “I am, and always have been, completely supportive of trans rights. I have spent decades campaigning for equality and supporting LGBT+ rights.”
Now, The Breakthrough Party has explicitly promised to contest Canterbury at the next general election.
Mays told Redaction Report: “We’re strong supporters of trans rights and have many trans members and allies in the party.
“We believe we would simply be letting them and all other trans people in Britain down by not contesting Ms Duffield’s seat.
“Since her election in 2017, her actions have shown that she isn’t on the left by any stretch and many activists regret helping her. In fact, many have reached out to us to say they will support us on the ground in Canterbury.”
Canterbury remains a marginal seat after surprisingly going red in 2017, with only 1,836 votes between Labour and the Conservative candidate.
If Breakthrough does make any headway in this seat, it will be likely at Duffield’s expense, leading to a Conservative gain long before the party themselves pick up the seat.
Mays responded: “All the evidence suggests that Ms Duffield would lose her seat whether we contested it or not, we can only hope that the people of Canterbury choose us to replace her and not the Conservatives.
“The Conservatives have a track record of disastrous governing, with increased inequality, austerity and virtually no action to protect the environment, we believe we are the only viable option.”
The party will undoubtedly be hoping the large student population in the city – certainly a big chunk of Duffield’s electorate – will move towards the most left-wing option on the ballot paper.
The Breakthrough Party recently stood in the Chesham and Amersham by-election but only won 197 votes in what was – before the surprise Liberal Democrat gain – a deep blue Conservative seat.
Whether they can indeed ‘break through’ electorally remains a massive challenge, as it does for any new party under the first past the post system.
The party is also challenging what it sees as a return to centrist politics within the Labour Party under Keir Starmer.
Recently, LGBT+ Labour criticised Duffield after liking a tweet comparing transgender people to cosplayers, calling on the Labour Party to withdraw the whip from her.
The group told LabourList their calls for this came “after a pattern of LGBT-phobic behaviour culminating in the endorsement of a tweet from a person arrested on terrorism charges which accuses members of the LGBT+ community of being ‘cosplayers’”.
In response, the Labour Party said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of homophobia or transphobia extremely seriously. This complaint will be fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures.” No action has yet been taken, however.
“Even if the Labour Party withdrew the whip from Ms Duffield, we’d continue to contest the seat,” Mays says.
“Our ultimate goal is to elect a truly progressive socialist government that will represent everyone, and the Labour Party is no longer a socialist party and definitely doesn’t represent the people of Britain.”
He added: “If a trans candidate puts themselves forward with the right credentials to be a serious challenger to Ms Duffield, we would definitely consider them.”
Rosie Duffield’s office was contacted for comment.
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