“That’s before we really start talking about where we have vulnerabilities at play, such as in prisons or in rape and domestic abuse shelters,” Rachel Maclean, a Vice-Chairman of the Party, has said.
Nonetheless, some Conservative MPs back self-ID in principle – including Theresa May who, as Conservative leader, originally supported it, and still does so.
Support will be found among the 20 plus members of the Parliamentary Party who have tabled an amendment to the Online Safety Bill seeking a ban on “so-called conversion practices of LBGBTQ+ individuals”.
But Sunak political challenges are straightforward compared to those Keir Starmer must manage – as his BBC interview with Laura Kuenssberg showed yesterday.
To understand why, return for a moment to Sturgeon. Part of its purpose may have been to trap the Conservatives, but it has instead to ensnare her own party.
The long and short of it is that pressure for the measure came not only from her Green partners in government but from within the ranks of her own party.
But when it came to a final vote, SNP MSPs split, with seven opposing the measure and a Minister, Ash Regan, resigning. Sir Keir has been under similar pressure from within Labour.
Which is why he backed self-ID late last year. He may well now face party management difficulties at Westminster similar to those Sturgeon has experienced at Holyrood.
But his own problems in Scotland have more bite, at least for the moment. There, Scottish Labour MSPs supported amendments that would have exclude 16-18 year olds from the Bill…but then voted for the Bill when those amendments were defeated.
Sir Keir backed Scottish Labour’s original position yesterday, thereby signalling discontent with the Bill in its final form. Government movement of Section 35 will create another headache for him.
For much of the Labour Party in Scotland will oppose it, while some Labour unionists at Westminster will support it – or at least smile on it in private.
I don’t expect these tergiversations to have any short-term term effect on the poll ratings either of Sir Keir or the party. Most voters will be preoccupied by rising prices, the NHS, strikes and living standards – not culture wars; nor constitutional debate.
Nonetheless, many voters who have lost faith in the Conservatives, especially perhaps in those crucial midlands and northern marginals, have persistent doubts about Labour’s values, and those of its leader.
And as the next election nears, his economic offer will come under intensifying scrutiny. Yesterday, Rob Colvile wrote that Starmer is promising “Rolls-Royce services on a Skoda budget”.
Colvile’s canter through Shadow Ministers’ spending and policy pledges – in particular, Wes Streeting’s plan to nationalise GPs – was only a trial run. Today, the press in general, and the Daily Mail in particular, swoop on Sir Keir’s support for hospital self-referral in some circumstances. The same interests that oppose ideas for change from the right are also lining up to oppose change from the left, as set out by Sir Keir yesterday.
His backing for self-ID will find support among some voters: young people, Labour voters and women in particular, according to YouGov. But the story of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill suggests that what voters think about an abstract proposition may be one thing and particular measures another, as the issues they raise come into focus.
YouGov reports that Leave voters are among those least likely to recognise that transgender people now hold a new gender status. Sir Keir is angling for their support, but it’s a long way from guaranteed.