Updated: Nov 23, 2021
“Power is not a means; it is an end. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”
Read Part ONE here
2021 dawns, the public is in love with Sturgeon, she is set fair for victory in the upcoming Holyrood election. She has a legion of adoring online fans who defend any slight. She is secure but worries remain.
She has disappointed her power base both on policy and delivering the positions they wanted. Her rival Joanna Cherry is favourite to win any leadership contest, this would be regime change both in people, policy, and the urgency of independence but worse for Sturgeon; her legacy would be exposed. Rumblings over a ring-fenced independence fund have started. And she must ensure the truth about the plot against Alex Salmond never comes to light.
It is a lot of balls to keep in the air but Sturgeon is fortunate. The Scottish media have displayed a complete lack of interest in the Salmond plot, in fact, have helped Sturgeon with their ‘nothing to see here approach’. Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell controls the Party machine. The Party’s constitution is sewn up and COVID means no in-person conferences so any interaction with members can be very tightly controlled. And, the polls are good and while the polls are good her MPs and MSPs are happy and she retains wider authority.
In late January Sturgeon seizes her chance, both to assure the gender ideologues that she is firmly onside and deal a blow to her rival Joanna Cherry.
The Hate Crimes Bill, which women’s groups believe would prevent women from speaking out against the destruction of sex-based rights, is in the committee stage at Parliament. The bill gives a green light to militant trans activists to make spurious complaints against women campaigners and women will risk a police investigation and potentially prison for speaking up for their rights.
Adam Tomkins Conservative MSP proposes an amendment that would remove ‘criticism of transgender identity from the Hate Crimes Bill. Initially Humza Yousaf the minister responsible accepts this amendment. This triggers the most ridiculous tantrum by the SNP gender ideologues, they scream ‘transphobia’ and storm off to the Greens.
Sturgeon takes to the airways with a video pleading with the gender ideologues to return.
In this video, Sturgeon pays the constitution no heed as a member who publicly resigns and makes statements to damage the party should not be able to re-join the party, for two years. Yet Sturgeon begs:
" As SNP leader I will do everything I can to change that impression and persuade all of you that the SNP is your party and you should come home where you belong.”
This, for the first time, puts Sturgeon firmly, publicly, and undoubtedly in the gender ideologues camp. Women in the SNP know exactly where they and Sturgeon stand, and have to decide; accept gender ideology and give up women’s rights or be frozen out.
At the same time, the gender ideologues led by SNP MP Kirsty Blackman are piling on Joanna Cherry for her support of a women’s rights campaigner Sarah Phillimore. Phillimore has been banned from Twitter she is later reinstated upon appeal. The reaction to Cherry’s support of Phillimore is so vicious that Phillimore threatens to sue amongst others SNP MP Kirsty Blackman, and launches a Crowdfunder.
Neale Hanvey SNP MP and supporter of the Women’s Pledge, who has already been thrown under the bus once, but survived to fight another day, has been given a role as SNP vaccine spokesperson, due to his experience in the NHS. But Hanvey too comes under fire for donating to Sarah Phillimore’s Crowdfunder. Hanvey refuses to back down and resigns his post before he is pushed.
Amid these multiple controversies and the focus on gender ideology; Sturgeon decides it is good time to substantially weaken Joanna Cherry. She instructs Blackford to sack Cherry as Justice Spokesperson and remove her from the front bench. Cherry a QC is replaced by a Sturgeon loyalist and drama student Anne McLaughlin. Blackford’s excuse is he wants to ‘refresh’ the team.
But what of the ‘good guys’ surely as they dominate the NEC and the committees they could fight back. Unfortunately, not, since the NEC includes representatives of non-elected affiliated organisations, and the defeated candidates in the NEC elections are gerrymandered back onto the NEC via these organisations. The ‘good guys’ are side-lined. And when the SNP decides to introduce a definition of transphobia it is the Ex-Equalities Convener Fiona Robertson that supplies it. Both the elected Women’s Convener and the elected Equalities Convener are given no say and are not even given a chance to speak at the NEC meeting where the definition is passed.
The solution to prevent the ‘good guys’ having a say on the committees is simple, the National Secretary Stewart Stevenson is under Sturgeon’s control and as it is his role to call meetings of the committees, he simply ensures they never meet.
Sturgeon’s next move is to throw a bone to her power base and simultaneously deal with Joan McAlpine who is a gender-critical thorn in her side.
The List system for the Scottish Parliament elections allows Parties to rank candidates on a Party List. MSP seats are then distributed proportionally taking into account constituency seats. This in effect gives the SNP little chance of winning many list seats as they dominate in the constituencies. However, the South of Scotland is different, with the SNP weaker in the constituencies leading to List MSPs. Joan McAlpine is a list MSP in the South and she has been a strong proponent of women’s rights and backer of the SNP Women’s Pledge.
The SNP NEC introduce a complicated system supposedly designed to help BAME and Disabled candidates. They are warned that the system is probably illegal and the system actually disadvantages BAME and Disabled candidates depending on the region in which they are standing. The system also relies on self-identification of disability or race.
However, the system serves its purpose with Sturgeon loyalists topping the lists and a special bonus for Sturgeon; Emma Harper who self-identifies as disabled leapfrogs the more popular Joan McAlpine to the top of the South of Scotland List. This gerrymandering bears fruit, the loyalists are reassured of Sturgeon’s power, she gains a gender ideologue in the Highlands and Islands and in the South rids herself of her most troublesome MSP, Joan McAlpine.
So, Sturgeon has reasserted her authority, sidelined Neale Hanvey; undermined her rival Joanna Cherry, pinned her sail tightly to the gender ideology mast, and maneuvered the leading gender-critical MSP out of Holyrood.
But what of independence; Do the ‘good guys’ take this lying down; Where’s the ring-fenced independence fund; And who stitched up Alex Salmond?
Find out more in Part 3
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