THE momentary squeeze of Kate Forbes’ arm by Nicola Sturgeon last Thursday was more than a mere sisterly token of support.

There was a measure of pride in it of course, and appreciation but something that also hinted of gratitude. Ms Forbes had just flawlessly delivered the Scottish Government’s budget, despite having had barely a day’s notice of her move from the wings to the centre stage.

She is the first woman to have delivered the budget since the Scottish Parliament reconvened in 1999. 

The resignation 24 hours earlier of her boss, Derek Mackay in the most distressing circumstances had shaken the Government to its core but Ms Forbes’ assured performance had taken the heat off for the time being. 

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Nothing in this young woman’s previous achievements suggested that she wouldn’t have performed the biggest task of her career with elan. Educated at a Gaelic-medium school in The Highlands, she later graduated from Oxford University before becoming an MSP at the age of 24 for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch.

In 2018 she delivered an entire speech in Gaelic as parliament debated the future of Scotland’s ancient tongue. If she gets the government’s budget through parliament she will surely become Scotland’s next Finance Minister. 

The prospect of this though, has angered that tiny but disproportionately influential faction within the SNP who have been given free rein to target women whom they consider to be ‘anti-trans’ bigots. Ms Forbes is also a professing Christian and this too must be entered into her debit ledger.

You can be anything you want, it seems, in the SNP but Christians need to watch their step as their views about equality are ‘questionable’.

Josh Mennie, who sits on the SNP’s National Executive Committee said that the prospect of Ms Forbes being promoted “was the last thing our party needs” and cited her faith. Mr Mennie, is also co-convener of a group called Out4Indy, an organisation that several senior SNP politicians have described as ‘sinister’ owing to the way some of its members have targeted politicians urging caution in the Scottish Government’s draft Gender Recognition Act reform bill. 

Mr Mennie’s tweet, since deleted, was mild in comparison with the torrent of abuse, much of it violent in nature, which has been directed at other female SNP politicians. Joan McAlpine, who chairs Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs committee, has become a hate figure for expressing caution around GRA reforms and for seeking to explain why her committee chose not to change the sex question in the next census to include a ‘non-binary’ option. In a reasonable compromise, her committee agreed that there could be a voluntary question on gender identification for people who want to identify as trans and non-binary. 

Afterwards, in a series of tweets, Ms McAlpine explained her thinking. She opposed attempts to erase sexual identity, thus rendering it a mere concept. Continuing to define sex as male and female maintained legal protections for women, she said.  

For daring to explain the committee’s thinking to voters who might perhaps be unaware of the political nuances of gender reform Ms McAlpine has been subjected to appalling abuse on social media, including one tweet that incited sexual violence against her. In another tweet, a known SNP activist said: “Joan McAlpine should be thrown away like a used tea-bag.” It was deeply misogynistic. 

When a trans activist altered a picture of her to include a red circle round her head in the form of a target it was circulated gleefully around these cowards as a means of mocking her. Again, this was threatening behaviour directed at a woman and characteristic of violent, male cowards. In the real world, these chocolate soldiers would be incapable of fighting sleep.   

Joanna Cherry, who holds the SNP’s Justice and Home Affairs brief at Westminster, is another high-profile and talented woman who has been subjected to intimidation and abuse from the trans warriors.

Like Joan McAlpine, Kate Forbes and a number of other gifted SNP women she has been fighting for women’s and LGBT rights her entire adult life. Yet, they are demonised as bigots for seeking to protect women’s safe spaces from men who would gain access to them merely by suddenly identifying as women. 
Other female politicians across the political spectrum have expressed similar misgivings about the Scottish Government’s support for self-identification.

They daren’t speak up though, having witnessed the horrific treatment of women who do. 

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The wretched irony of this is that Nicola Sturgeon is rightly regarded as a champion of women’s rights. The First Minister has always supported girls and young women into politics, a realm that had been the traditional and exclusive preserve of men. She is a role model for bright young women like Kate Forbes and Amy Callaghan, who took the prized East Dunbartonshire seat for the SNP last December. 

It’s depressing that some in her party seem intent on creating a hostile environment for bright women who simply want to protect their hard-won rights against the predations of these vengeful trans firing squads. The SNP’s senior officers know exactly who these vindictive and malevolent people are. They are currently sitting on a number of complaints from constituencies and individual members who want these activities investigated. 

Much of this might appear to the world that exists outside the political bubble as angels dancing on the head of a pin. I was pleased more than I ought to be last year when I spelled out the meaning of the word TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) to my pro-indy, radical-feminist, cool-for-cats daughters. If this pair don’t know what it means then the vast majority of population won’t either.

This is how trans extremists want it to be. They are keen to have this legislation signed off before the rest of the population wakes up to the reality that women’s safe spaces have been legislated out of existence. 

It also explains the viciousness directed at people like Joan McAlpine and Joanna Cherry who are merely trying to alert other women to this peril. 

While the SNP continues to indulge the violent intimidation directed at them it can no longer portray itself as a party that stands up for women’s rights.