"There was truth and there was untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad”
Read Part EIGHT here
The Holyrood election yields a similar result to 2016 and Sturgeon is confirmed as First Minister. Angus Robertson is appointed cabinet minister for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture. Sturgeon is secure but her thoughts are turning to a future beyond Scottish politics, but first she has to pass gender ideology into law. She intends to reform the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) to allow any male to legally become a woman simply on his own say so. She also needs to ensure Robertson is her successor not Joanna Cherry.
And Sturgeon also has a bit of score settling to do, the previous December her MSPs had rebelled when her government wanted to deny survivors of rape and sexual assault the right to request a female examiner. The Greens had voted to deny the survivors, Sturgeon had abstained. She now rewards the Greens for their ideological loyalty with cabinet positions and sends a message to any rebellious MSPs, she doesn’t need them, they can be frozen out.
However, there is a problem for Sturgeon’s GRA reform, Self-Identification of sex (self-Id) plans - once people understand the consequences of self-id they are against it, recent polling puts support at just 20%. The strategy so far has been one of ‘no debate’ and of keeping gender ideology out of the MSM. And, to shut down discussion of the ideology by labelling anyone who opposes it ‘transphobic’ and subjecting them to abuse, cancelling, loss of livelihood and possible criminalisation. As part of the strategy a Hate Crime Bill has been passed at Holyrood. The bill will put anyone advocating for women’s rights at risk of criminalization.
But, even before the Hate Crimes Bill becomes law; Marion Millar a feminist and strong advocate for women and children is reported to the police. Millar is charged under section 38(1) of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act:
“ acting in a threatening or abusive manner, which is likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm, whether or not it is intentional or reckless. “
The charges are for tweets which took issue with Sturgeon’s GRA policy and pointed out the inherent dangers to women and girls. One of the complainants is Rhiannon Spear, SNP Women’s Convener and close ally of Sturgeon. Cherry announces she will represent Millar.
The grassroots women’s movement step up to support Millar with demonstrations at the Glasgow court where she, with her legal counsel Cherry, appears and at a rally at Glasgow Green. Supporters travel from throughout Scotland and the UK. Millar enters no plea but in court Cherry argues for a continuance for amongst other reasons - serious questions about Millar’s human rights. On October 28th 2021 the charges are dropped. Millar has endured six months of abuse, stress and costs.
The women’s movement in Scotland is gaining strength and are getting organised. They hold a demonstration at Holyrood. The women dress as handmaidens in a reference to Margaret Attwood’s novel The Handmaids Tail. The Handmaiden demonstration gets a spot on STV News and the visual impact of women dressed as handmaidens makes the print press and the TV reports. A hashtag #WomenWontWheesht is born and gains international support.
For Women Scotland a cross party campaign group, arrange a second Holyrood demonstration with a wide variety of speakers including McAllister, former SNP Women’s Convener now with the ALBA Party. Sturgeon is loudly booed by the crowd.
Some MSP’s join the women demonstrators and listen to concerns, but notably no SNP MSP engages with the women. In a later exchange inside Holyrood, Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser raises the issue of the women’s demonstration. Sturgeon in a rare display of losing her cool yells at him across the chamber ‘Shame on You’. Sturgeon is used to being adored. Later that day #ShameOnYouSturgeon trends on social media. Within weeks, the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, effectively bans protests at Holyrood.
In the autumn women’s groups create leaflets and set up street stalls taking the message off social media and to the people.
The ALBA Party pass a resolution that strongly defends the sex-based rights of women and same-sex attracted. They propose a Citizen’s Assembly to resolve the issue of trans rights.
In October ‘For Women Scotland’, are in court on appeal. They are arguing against the redefinition of women in the Gender Representation on Public Boards Act. The Act defines a woman as anyone that says they are. The judgement is expected around February or March 2022.
For Women Scotland are currently running a write to your MSP campaign, their first issue is regarding the 51 girls who were sent to England for double mastectomies and the second is a campaign against housing transgender men in women’s prisons.
Over the summer there is a major development in employment law Maya Forstater wins at an employment tribunal. Her win is significant because for the first time it moves ‘gender critical’ belief into the protected category of ‘religion or belief’ in the Equality Act. Gender critical beliefs such as sex is binary and immutable and humans cannot change sex. It might be obvious that these ‘beliefs’ are ‘facts’ but the drafters of the Equality Act never considered that facts would have to be protected but as a consequence of the lack of foresight gender critical views have to be protected under beliefs.
The case is significant for Cherry, her gender critical views are frequently used against her by SNP colleagues. The SNP is a membership organisation and therefore is covered by the Equality Act and now Cherry is a member of a protected category – those with gender critical beliefs. The SNP ought to tread very carefully but instead they subject Cherry to the most horrendous bullying.
A bill that will outlaw conversion therapy is passing through the Westminster parliament, of which Cherry is a member. Conversion therapy is commonly understood to be forcing homosexuals to deny or repress their sexuality. In a by now common tactic ‘gender identity’ has been tacked onto the bill. So now conversion therapy applies to two different groups, same sex attracted and transgender.
Cherry is worried that the bill will prevent therapists from pursuing talking therapies with children who claim to be transgender and instead children will needlessly be placed on a path of irreversible medication and surgeries. Cherry expresses her viewpoint in a tweet and suffers abuse and calls for her to have the SNP whip withdrawn.
This modus-operandi is very similar to when Cherry was sacked from the front bench. An innocuous tweet; social media pile on; calls for Cherry to be disciplined; threats of resignations; resignations. If it follows the same track Sturgeon will intervene and Cherry will have the whip withdrawn.
And, of course it is not just Sturgeon that is worried about Cherry’s popularity, the careerist MPs, MSPs and Councillors around Sturgeon also fear a Cherry regime as a risk to their jobs and power.
There has been an outpouring of support for Cherry, so Sturgeon really needs someone else to blame. The careerists offer Sturgeon a way, they haven’t called for Cherry to have the whip withdrawn, instead they demand Sturgeon carries out an investigation into transphobia in the party.
Sturgeon could set up an investigation into transphobia, have Cherry found guilty and then sorrowfully withdraw the SNP whip. But Cherry knows the law and her gender critical views are a protected belief so Sturgeon will have to be very careful if she takes this route.
And there already is a way to prevent Cherry standing again as an MP, by failing her at vetting using the transphobia definition that was never approved by ordinary members.
If, Sturgeon removes Cherry now, it could mean Sturgeon intends to stand down sooner rather than later.
Or, it could be that Sturgeon is worried that her and her party’s popularity will not survive the twin issues of GRA reform and inaction on independence. And a poor showing in the upcoming council elections might lead to a Cherry leadership challenge next year. We await developments.
But, what of independence plans and the ring-fenced fund? Find out in Part 10.
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