Photo by Sharon McCutcheon

Blinded by rage

Tory MPs eager to fight the war on woke need to take the beam from their own eyes

Artillery Row

Our nation’s institutional slide into woke vacuity continues, with the news that a high security prison on the Isle of Wight, which holds rapists, paedophiles and sex offenders, is handing out gender pronoun badges ahead of an “inclusion week“. It’s not surprising that people are angry about prison officers encouraging, say, a convicted rapist to wear a badge instructing people to refer to him as “she / her”.

What should be surprising is to see a Tory MP joining the outrage. According to The Telegraph, Conservative MP Tim Loughton is furious. “Oh dear so now woke has broken into prison too… The last thing we need to be pandering to is making sure serious criminals have their personal pronouns respected.”

It illustrates a slide to technocracy with insufficient scrutiny

This is surprising coming from a Tory MP because it reveals that he is blithely unaware of his own party’s policies and actions and on an issue which he clearly cares about. Under the Tories, the Ministry of Justice has published guidance explaining that “self-identified” personal pronouns must be respected in prisons. It is also Tory Party policy to allow violent male criminals who “self-identify” as women to serve their time in women’s prisons. This policy has already led to at least one female prisoner being assaulted.

We’re in a hopeless position when politicians from the party in government seem oblivious to the contentious policy and administrative positions that they themselves help prop up. It illustrates a slide to technocracy with important policies and decisions receiving insufficient democratic scrutiny: implemented by civil servants, rubber-stamped by ill-informed and under-attentive Ministers, with backbench MPs oblivious and the public powerless. Trans activists have even published a document describing how their ideology should be sneaked in under the radar and away from democratic scrutiny. It really is increasingly up to the general public to pay attention, stay informed, demand debate and do whatever it takes now to hold our MPs to account.

The Ministry of Justice last updated the Tory Party prison policy related to “The Care and Management of Individuals who are Transgender” in January 2020. You know to worry when the policy explains that “biological sex” is “assigned” at birth. That’s not science that’s ideology.

The policy covers those who are “non-binary” and “gender-fluid” as if these were more than passing fads. The Ministy of Justice has also implemented “self-ID”: “Individuals managed by HMPPS are able to self-declare that they are transgender.” They are also “supported to express the gender (or non-gender) with which they identify, with staff using correct pronouns”. To avoid doubt: “Staff must make every effort to communicate with individuals in ways that respect their gender identity, using appropriate verbal and written communication and use of pronouns.” Following the Maya Forstater decision confirming that “gender critical views” are protected in the workplace, this policy requires an urgent update. Mr Loughton might channel his anger by helping to push for this.

Tory MPs need to focus their anger not on hapless bureaucrats

As for where trans-identifying prisoners are housed, while the assumption is that this will be according to their legal gender, government policy is that “self-IDing” trans prisoners can request transfers to the prison estate that matches their identity and decisions on this are made by specially convened case boards. This policy came to the public’s attention recently when a female prisoner sought a judicial review over the legality of the Government’s position. Part of her argument was that the Equality Act allows for the provision of single sex services, including accommodation, where this a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. As the judge said: “it is in my view clear that … the [Tory] minister who approved the policies in November 2020 was fully advised as to the law, including the schedule 3 exemptions. [However] the minister was under no obligation to apply them.” In other words, despite there being a clear lawful way for the Tories to “keep prisons single sex” they actively choose not to do so.

I wonder if Mr Lougton is angry about this. According to HampshireLive, he does take a wider interest in women’s confidence in the prison system. He said, “There is a real problem in this country with getting sex offenders convicted and behind bars in the first place so the last thing we need to be pandering to is making sure serious criminals have their personal pronouns respected.”

Tory MPs urgently need to focus their attention and anger not on the hapless bureaucrats over-eagerly, or perhaps cynically and dejectedly, rolling out wokeness. They need to acknowledge that the Tory Government is complicit in its roll-out and step up to undertake democratic scrutiny of their own government’s policies.

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