JK Rowling accuses Alastair Campbell of being ‘indifferent’ about women’s rights

JK Rowling
Ms Rowling also took aim at Left-wing newspaper columnist Ian Dunt, who described Mrs Badenoch as 'quite staggeringly dismal' - Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

JK Rowling has accused Alastair Campbell of showing that Labour is “indifferent” towards women after he accused the Tories of attempting to “weaponise trans rights”.

The Harry Potter author came to the defence of Kemi Badenoch after the cabinet minister unveiled plans to overhaul the Equality Act to make clear that sex refers to biology rather than gender identity.

Mr Campbell, who was Tony Blair’s chief spin doctor and is now co-host of the UK’s most popular political podcast, The Rest Is Politics, questioned why Mrs Badenoch was making the intervention given her role as trade and business secretary.

He said she “has decided that the biggest issue on her agenda on her first big election outing is the weaponisation of trans rights” and suggested she was more concerned with positioning herself for a future Tory leadership bid than the election.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Ms Rowling responded:

Rishi Sunak is set to announce on Monday that the Conservative manifesto will include a pledge to rewrite the Equality Act to make clear that sex refers to “biological sex”.

The move is an attempt to ensure trans women – those who were born male – can be legally barred from women’s spaces such as female-only prisons and sessions for domestic abuse victims, even if they have a gender recognition certificate.

The Conservatives argue that many businesses and service providers are confused about the law, with the move intended to provide them with certainty that it is permissible to exclude trans women in some circumstances.

However, Labour has claimed that changing the law is unnecessary and Monday said the issue is being used as a “distraction” from more important issues.

Ms Rowling also took aim at the Left-wing newspaper columnist Ian Dunt, who described Mrs Badenoch as “quite staggeringly dismal”.

Mr Campbell accused Mrs Badenoch of 'weaponising trans rights'
Mr Campbell accused Mrs Badenoch of 'weaponising trans rights' - Euan Cherry/Getty Images

Following her morning media round to promote her announcement, he accused Mrs Badenoch of having a “spiteful, toxic political personality” and said her politics, arguments and manner were “all ghastly”.

Ms Rowling, who previously was a major Labour donor, said: “Kemi Badenoch and I might not agree on a lot, but how often are male politicians called ‘spiteful’?

“And what’s the issue with her manner, Ian? Did she fail in womanly sweetness, kindness and deference?”

The proposals are an attempt to mark a clear dividing line with Labour, which the Tories say is weak on the gender issue.

The plan could also cause issues for the SNP, as the Conservatives are proposing to strip Holyrood of powers over gender.

Rowling was a vocal critic of Nicola Sturgeon’s gender self-ID law, which would have allowed anyone aged 16 or over to change their legally recognised sex by signing a declaration. It was blocked by the UK Government.

Mrs Badenoch said: “Whether it is rapists being housed in women’s prisons, or instances of men playing in women’s sports where they have an unfair advantage, it is clear that public authorities and regulatory bodies are confused about what the law says on sex and gender and when to act – often for fear of being accused of transphobia, or not being inclusive.

“That is why we are today pledging that, if we form a government after the election, we will clarify that sex in the law means biological sex and not new, redefined meanings of the word.

“The protection of women and girls’ spaces is too important to allow the confusion to continue.”

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