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Tony Blair says Labour will never win an election if it disapproves of JK Rowling

"The Labour Party is being backed into electorally off-putting positions"

2021-05-14

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: ITV/Wiki

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has argued Labour will never win a general election if it disapproves of JK Rowling.

In a new essay for the New Statesman the former Labour leader opines that opposing figures such as the Harry Potter author makes Labour "electorally off-putting". 

Rowling has made headlines in recent years for her gender-critical views, from mocking "men who menstruate" on Twitter to writing in a 2020 essay: "The new trans activism is having [...] a significant impact on many of the causes I support, because it’s pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender."

"Push back strongly against those who will try to shout down the debate"

In his NS piece titled 'Tony Blair: Without total change, Labour will die', Blair sets out his hopes for the future of the party. 

On 'cultural issues', he writes: "One after another, the Labour Party is being backed into electorally off-putting positions. A progressive party seeking power which looks askance [meaning 'with an attitude or look of suspicion or disapproval'] at the likes of Trevor Phillips, Sara Khan or JK Rowling is not going to win. Progressive politics needs to debate these cultural questions urgently and openly. It needs to push back strongly against those who will try to shout down the debate. And to search for a new governing coalition. All the evidence is that it can only do this by building out from the centre ground."

Elsewhere in the piece, he writes: "The moderates – often of an older generation – don’t quite understand the strength of feeling over issues such as trans rights. They distrust their own sensors and fear tripping up or saying the wrong thing, and so have come to a position which basically says: there is no culture war, in any event we’re not playing it, or if there is and we are forced to play, we will play at the back as quietly as possible."

Blair was Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007.

Last month, Olympic diver Tom Daley revealed what he would say to Rowling on her views on trans people, given the chance.

Speaking in an interview with The Times, Daley said: "I guess it would be a conversation rather than a shouting match. I always try to listen first and try to understand, and then try to share my point of view and my opinions and show how things [said] can hurt other people, to try to get the best outcome.”