A veteran Labour activist who opposes transgender candidates taking places on all-women shortlists says she is facing an attempt to silence her after she was questioned by police over an alleged hate crime.
Linda Bellos, an outspoken feminist and former Lambeth council leader, last night accused transgender campaigners of targeting her as part of a ‘war on women’.
The 67-year-old, who is a friend of Jeremy Corbyn, was interviewed under caution after she was reported to police over remarks she made about her willingness to take on pro-transgender activists. A second Labour activist, Miranda Yardley, was also questioned about messages she posted online.
Labour is facing a row over moves to allow transgender candidates who have not biologically changed sex on to all-women shortlists. Last weekend it emerged that 300 Labour members are quitting the party in protest after a decision to give places to ‘self-defining’ women. They say a man could now get on a shortlist just by claiming to be a woman.
Miss Bellos was questioned by officers a fortnight ago after she joked about thumping opponents. She was reported to police after a video of her remarks was posted online. Speaking at a gathering of feminists in York last year, Miss Bellos said: ‘I play football and I box, and if any one of those b*****ds comes near me, I will take off my glasses and thump them.
‘I am quite prepared to threaten violence because it seems to me politically what they are seeking to do is p*** on women.’
Miss Bellos said her comments at the event in November were in response to the beating up of a radical feminist at a rally in Hyde Park two months earlier.
She said the attack had made her ‘very angry and distressed, especially when I read the increasing demands that some trans young “women” were making within the Labour Party’. At her police interview, Miss Bellos said officers told her that transgender activists watching her speech online could have felt threatened by her remarks. She argued that her comments were about her right to self-defence and she was not aware they were being broadcast online. The police interview was curtailed after Miss Bellos suffered an epileptic fit.
Last night the activist branded the investigation ‘a disproportionate use of police resources that would be better spent investigating actual violence towards women’.
Miss Bellos, who is also facing disciplinary action following a complaint to the Labour Party, said transgender campaigners ‘are specifically targeting me because I am outspoken’. She added: ‘I’m not apologising, I’m not bowing down and I’m not being intimidated. I’m not now going to be swept aside by people who think they are women telling me what it is to be a woman.They are seeking to have me expelled from the party.
‘Well, I’m not resigning – let them throw me out. This is a war on women.’