Duffield reports Russell-Moyle to chief whip over planned visit to her seat

Katie Neame
© UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Labour MP Rosie Duffield has reported fellow backbencher Lloyd Russell-Moyle to the party’s chief whip, LabourList understands, after he told her he planned to visit a bin strike picket line in her Kent constituency.

It is understood that Russell-Moyle, MP for Brighton Kemptown, planned to visit striking bin workers in Canterbury, represented by the GMB.

The union is currently in dispute with Canenco, Canterbury City Council’s in-house company. GMB workers rejected a new pay offer earlier this month, with residents going weeks without recycling collections, according to the council.

The union has since extended the strike to October 1st, claiming that the employer had presented GMB officials with the same pay offer already rejected by members.

Two sources indicated Russell-Moyle contacted Duffield to notify her of his plans to visit in advance, which is a parliamentary convention when an MP visits another MP’s constituency.

It is understood that the MP for Canterbury then reported the planned visit by Russell-Moyle to the city in south-east England to the Labour whips’ office. It is not clear if the visit went or will go ahead, but a local source suggested they did not believe it had to date.

The specific grounds for the apparent complaint are not known.

Duffield initially declined to comment when approached by LabourList, but confirmed she had “reported” the “incident” confidentially to Labour’s chief whip.

She later tweeted that she had “discussed this visit solely with [the Labour whips’ office] at the time to seek advice”.

She tweeted too that she had not initially commented because “this is a sensitive and ongoing local issue that cannot be accurately covered in a few words for clicks”.

Duffield also called it an “inaccurate” and “disappointing” story. LabourList has since approached her requesting clarification, but she has not yet responded.

The bin strike is politically sensitive for Labour politicians, as it pits a Labour-run local authority against members of a Labour-affiliated union.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has warned his shadow cabinet too against picket line visits, amid rising industrial unrest and right-wing attacks on Labour’s trade union links.

Notably, Duffield and Russell-Moyle have also been at odds publicly over transgender rights.

Duffield accused male colleagues of trying to shout her down in the Commons in January when she spoke in support of the Conservatives’ decision to block the Scottish government’s gender recognition reform bill. The Guardian reported Russell-Moyle “appeared to be trying to shout her down” and later apologised for his tone.

The bill – which would make it easier for transgender people to obtain gender recognition certificates – was passed by the Scottish parliament in December last year, but was formally blocked by the UK government the following month.

Duffield claimed during a Commons debate that the bill “clearly conflicts with the Equality Act and would have repercussions for women across the UK”, raising concerns about the impact it could have on spaces “necessarily segregated by sex, such as domestic violence settings, changing rooms and prisons”.

Russell-Moyle by contrast claimed the government’s decision was “the new Tories’ section 28”, referring to Thatcher-era legislation banning schools from “promoting” homosexuality.

He was asked over the weekend on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour programme if he regretted the abuse Duffield and others with similar views had faced.

“We have all been abused,” he replied, claiming that Duffield had “supported people who have abused me”. He acknowledged some of his supporters were likely to have been “unpleasant” to her too, however, calling the debate “too heated”.

He said if the government had handled gender recognition reform better, there would be less “toxicity”, and he and Duffield “would be as good friends as we were when we first came into parliament”. He said they used to go to the theatre together.

Duffield also appeared on the programme. She said Russell-Moyle had spoken “a lot of sense”, but talk of taking the heat out of the debate was a “very easy thing for someone to say who hasn’t been abused for several years”.

Labour’s recently clarified policy is to “modernise, simplify and reform” the gender recognition law, “remove invasive bureaucracy” and “simplify the process”, according to Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary Anneliese Dodds.

Writing in the Guardian in July, she described the current process of securing a certificate as “intrusive, outdated and humiliating”.

But Dodds argued that the existing requirement to obtain a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria “upholds legitimacy of applications and confidence in the system” – in an apparent change to Keir Starmer’s previous commitment to de-medicalise the process.

Neither Russell-Moyle nor Duffield gave the stance their full endorsement on Westminster Hour.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle’s office declined to comment. The Labour Party did not respond to a request for comment.

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