Penny delivered a pretty strong performance overall at her launch event. No notes, took plenty of hostile questions, and clearly well-prepared for the inevitable difficult questions on trans rights and womanhood…
Although the quips worked in the room, the issue is not going to go away. Shifting her position towards where the membership is on trans issues is causing her problems. Her stance in government was well known, she even stated her position, which was not government policy, at the despatch box:
Fair Play for Women reckons Penny is gaslighting women when she now says “I’ve never supported self-ID”.
This has surprised trans activists who are keen to allow men to identify as women and be accepted as such in all ways. Pink News, which is very vocal on the trans issue, made Penny their Politician of the Year in 2019 because of her vocal allyship. In response to her critics, Mordaunt pointed to a track record defending women’s rights: ‘It was me that changed maternity legislation that was drafted in gender neutral language ( by another) to use female terms.’ Only as Steerpike reports that claim is disputed by both her leadership rivals and Whitehall officials, with one describing it as a “despicable” attempt to rewrite history. What is clear is that her public position is shifting. Knowing that her previous trans stance is toxic to the Tory membership, she is now transitioning her position to a more mainstream Tory stance. Pragmatic rather than principled.
Former admirer Benjamin Cohen CEO of PinkNews tells Guido “I don’t know why she didn’t say that she did support it but she accepts it’s not the will of the party anymore and she has no plans to change the current government position. That would have placated both sides.” She’s now got herself in a position where she’s denying she ever held the trans views that we all can see she held, annoying people on both sides of the argument. Not smart.