Over the last decade, Scotland’s SNP administration has seemed almost untouchable. A combination of factors including a majority at the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, a fractured and toothless opposition, and public disengagement from the political process has seen the party pursue whatever legislative programme it wants, without proper scrutiny. Failings have frequently been glossed over despite the best attempts of opposition MSPs, journalists, and the public to show them up. At times, the courts have acted as a last line of defence, correcting government missteps, and striking down bad legislation.
A number of costly errors could – and perhaps should – have curbed the SNP and resulted in damage at the ballot box. Staggeringly high drug deaths, the ferries fiasco, bad legislation like a ‘state snooper’ scheme and a hate crime law to name but a few. However, the party has soldiered on, its base fairly undeterred. Remarkably, SNP politicians have remained unswervingly loyal to the premiership over the years, giving Ministers the benefit of the doubt even whilst privately questioning their judgement. This devotion can’t last forever, though, and recent events suggest something is about to give in the SNP.
There has been a steady rise in ill-feeling towards controversial gender recognition reforms being taken forward by the government in league with its allies, the Scottish Greens. A bill before the Scottish Parliament would radically overhaul the process by which a person obtains a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) in Scotland – allowing them to change legal sex. Under the plans, a person would no longer require a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, or any medical advice to get a GRC. Children aged 16 and above would be eligible for the first time, with the only qualifying factor being an arbitrary 3-month waiting period.
People are not happy about this, to put it mildly. Professional groups including the EHRC and women campaigners believe current provisions contain vital safeguards, and warn that a self-ID system would fail trans people, erode women’s rights, and undermine the safety of children swept up in a tide of gender identity theory. Concerns about women’s safety are grounded in evidence from prisons and other jurisdictions showing self-ID policies have led to abuse. Fears about child safeguarding are shared by expert medics who say ditching medical opinions “will certainly lead to young people being harmed”.
All of this ill feeling came to a head recently in a Stage 1 debate on the legislation at Holyrood, the largest hurdle in the legislative process. The debate itself was tame but an astonishing 9 SNP MSPs defied a party whipto show their opposition – 7 voted against the bill and 2 abstained. A Minister, Ash Regan, also publicly resigned ahead of the debate, saying her conscience could not allow her to back the government. This was the largest rebellion in the SNP in living memory and a humiliation for the leadership. The latest intelligence suggests this opposition is going nowhere.
Last week, a group of SNP MSPs told The Herald on Sunday that they are unlikely to change their minds even if the bill is amended at Stage 2 and do not think that MSPs should have been subjected to a whip at Stage 1. Critics are known to include well-respected women MSPs and ex-Ministers. Meaningful amendments are unlikely anyway as King-makers the Scottish Greens have demanded a permissive bill. A schism has appeared within the Scottish National Party, and it looks set to widen further, distancing members from an increasingly isolated First Minister, accused of refusing to engage with critics.
There is perhaps a greater threat to the current SNP administration in this area, and it lies outwith the walls of Holyrood. Last year, Scottish ministers issued controversial guidance for schools, ignoring the concerns of parents, teachers, doctors and others who are critical of gender identity theory and warn of its dangers to vulnerable young people. The guide tells teachers they can keep a child’s ‘gender identity’ from parents, erases free expression by ordering the use of pronouns by staff and pupils, and endorses placing kids on a pathway towards harmful medical intervention.
A report by the Sunday Mail revealed that teachers at one large secondary school have were warned not to divulge info about children identifying as a new gender to parents – even kids as young as 12. Staff are alarmed at what is going on, with one anonymous individual telling the newspaper: “There are some classes with several children as young as 12 who have said they want to be known by a new name and pronouns. It is an issue affecting an increasingly large number of young people.” It’s clear controversial trans ideology is becoming mainstream thanks to the government’s guidance.
The situation described in the Sunday Mail is playing out in schools across Scotland, to the alarm of teachers and parents. Children are effectively being indoctrinated into a contentious, pseudo-scientific ideology – without parental knowledge. I’ve spoken to parents in various parts of Scotland and have a family member in secondary education. People are almost universally alarmed by the approach being ordered by the Scottish state. As schools mainstream the ideas of trans activists, Scotland’s only gender identity clinic for children, Sandyford, has also seen a huge rise in referrals and growing criticism.
In choosing to implement the agenda of gender ideologues, Scotland’s establishment has sown the seeds of an almighty scandal. Parents are getting wind of what is going on in schools and objecting. Young people are attesting to the harms they have experienced as a result of gender transitioning. The public will not abide their concerns about education and legislation being routinely dismissed. Scotland’s Government is going to reap the whirlwind unless it radically changes course. A tipping point will be reached on all this at some stage. What it will mean for the current SNP leadership, and our country, is one of the biggest questions in Scottish politics.
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