Eddie Izzard launches new election bid for Labour’s governing body
Eddie Izzard has launched a second attempt to win a place on the UK Labour Party’s governing body.
The transgender comedian and activist previously failed to win a spot on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in 2016, losing out by a few thousand votes.
Now he has embarked on a second campaign with a pledge to stand-up for LGBT rights.
If he wins the election he would become one of the most important trans political figures in Britain, having a key say in the opposition Labour Party’s governance.
He said: “Being an actor and performing stand-up is what I do for a living, but being an activist has been part of me for a long time.
“I have always fought for the campaigns that I believe in, even when they are unpopular or I’ve been advised against it.
“I came out in 1985, joined the Labour Party in 1995 and I have now campaigned for LGBT rights, for the Labour Party, for Europe and have run marathons for charities for many years.
“I have campaigned against racists and fascists all over our country and around the world and I want all of our members to feel welcome in the Labour Party.”
Labour’s NEC is made of parliamentary representatives, including Jeremy Corbyn, trade union officials, councillors and Labour members.
Izzard, who is on the centre-left, ran for the internal Labour position last year, but was outvoted by left-wing supporters.
Earlier this year he revealed he also wants to become Britain’s first transgender MP.
The marathon runner said he intends to give up comedy to run for parliament.
There has never been an openly transgender Member of Parliament in UK history, despite record levels of MPs who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual.
The closest a transgender person has come to Parliament is Labour’s Sophie Cook, who came a close second to anti-LGBT Conservative Tim Loughton during the 2017 election in the East Worthing and Shoreham constituency.
He said: “The plan was always to run [for office] in 2020, though Theresa May has changed that with her failed power grab. So now it’s the first general election after 2020.”
The star added that he would give up performing entirely if elected.
The comic said: “I would. It’s like [former MP] Glenda Jackson; she gave up acting for 25 years to concentrate on it, then she turns up back as King Lear.”
The ambitious comic had previously teased a run as the Labour candidate for Mayor of London – but given the incumbent Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan is hugely popular, it’s highly unlikely there’ll be a vacancy in the post anytime soon.
In the same interview, Izzard opened up about coming out as trans.
The comic explained that coming out as trans was by far one of the scariest things he could do, and in turn that made other obstacles less threatening.
“I think coming out as transgender allowed me to put myself in other terrifying situations and work them out once I was in them.
“I knew I would get through the bad, terrifying bit – and there was a lot of that when I was a street performer – and eventually get to a more interesting place.”
Izzard sometimes presents as male and sometimes as female.
Despite describing himself as a transvestite in the past, in recent years Izzard has more broadly described himself as transgender.
He explained last year during a marathon challenge: “I use it as a badge of identity – I am a transgender guy who came out 31 years ago.”
The star went on to explain that he often identifies as female and male – but that he felt society should not become so “obsessed” with gender.
“I’ve got boy genetics and girl genetics. We get obsessed by it in humanity. We’ve been obsessed for 5,000 years of civilisation and people are still being murdered – in Uganda they were trying to sentence people to death.
“If you look at a tiger, you go ‘ooh, tiger!’, we don’t go ‘girl tiger’ or ‘boy tiger’. We are obsessed by the genders because we grow up in one gender or another. No other animal is obsessed by our gender – they don’t give a monkeys about our gender.”