Tories in Hackney council by-election upset after Labour candidate gender controversy

Cazenove by-election declaration; Laura Pascal is on the left; the winning candidate, Ian Sharer did not attend because of illness. Pic Hackney Council.

The Conservatives scored an upset win this morning in the Hackney council by-election for the Cazenove ward in the wake of the controversial suspension and reinstatement of the Labour candidate over her gender critical views.

Laura Pascal, who was re-instated as Labour candidate only on Wednesday night after issuing an apology for her liking a number of tweets which was said to have been ‘transphobic’ came second with 935 votes, down from the 1,724 votes her predecessor had garnered in the last election.

Although Pascal had apologised ‘unreservedly’ for liking tweets which caused ‘hurt and offence’ she also pointledly changed her personal Twitter profile to say that she was ‘…unapologetic for my gender critical views.’ She had been suspended a week ago.

The winning tally for the Conservative candidate Ian Sharer, a former Liberal Democrat councillor for the ward, was 1,623 votes, a surprising turnaround from the last election of 2022, where the Conservatives had only garnered 251 votes. It also the first time that a Conservative has been elected in the Cazenove ward.

Sharer had previously represented the Lib Dem party in the Cazenove seat from 2002 to 2018, when Labour won it, but had switched to the Conversative Party in opposition to the Town Hall’s low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) policy, according to the Conservative Party spokesman.

Ian Sharer. Pic Liberal Democrats

Sharer was not present for the vote count due to illness, but the Conservatives have celebrated his win in an X/Twitter post.

Tamara Micner, the Green Party candidate came in 3rd place with 387 votes, and the Liberal Democrat candidate, Dave Raval in 4th place with 73 votes. The turnout was reported to be about 31.9%.

Before Pascal was suspended, both Ravel and Micner had highlighted Pascal’s gender critical views, which had been expressed in a post saying ‘by definition’ transwomen were male and replying to another X user in a post which she later pinned to the top of her X feed:

‘My embodied reality as a member of the oppressed sex class is experienced in a world where biology has a significant impact. You can believe what you want but I believe that biological sex is a real thing and neither law or some kind of new scientific concensus wld change that.’ She later removed the pinned tweet before the apology was issued on her behalf by Labour:

Pascal, who describes herself as an ‘avowed feminist’ and ‘Democratic Socialist’, had previously worked in the Department of Health as a Policy Manager for Social Markets well as the G7 Stakeholder Engagement lead at Department of Education; she currently works for Principle Consulting, a specialist public affairs, policy and campaigns social enterprise organisation.

Pascal campaigning Pic: Hackney Labour

Pascal was enthusiastically endorsed last November as the candidate for the Cazenove seat, vacated by the current Hackney mayor Councillor Caroline Woodley.

However, according to a source close to Pascal’s campaign, climbing back to win after her controversy, and in such a marginal seat was; “totally impossible.”

The Labour Women’s Declaration, which has supported Pascal, argued that Labour voters did not  stay home because of Pascal’s gender views, but rather the timing of her suspension: “Laura remained steadfast that Her gender critical views were valid and in line with party policy and LWD supporters joined the doorstep campaign for her. On the doorstep we met voters who were definitely going to Vote Labour because of her stand…”

“It’s clear to us that unless the party makes its current policy positions clearer to its members, officers, politicians and staff, female candidates who speak out in support of these positions will continue to suffer from vexatious complaints on the eve of elections being taken seriously by party officials.”

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