THE SNP treasures equality; everybody says so, but in this party some are more equal than others. On Wednesday night, Nicola Sturgeon broke away from her daily task of leading us through the pandemic to underline her commitment to equality. She was concerned that a number of SNP members had signalled their intention to quit over alleged transphobia. It seems that what had tipped them over the edge was the decision by Humza Yousaf, the Justice Minister, to introduce an amendment to his Hate Crime Bill to protect freedom of expression. Specifically, the amendment relates to debate around transgender identity.

Unless you believe that to express reasonable concerns about women’s sex-based rights in the SNP’s proposed gender reform proposals is a hate crime there is little evidence that the party has a problem with transphobia. Ms Sturgeon thinks differently. In an extraordinary two minute-video she said: “Over the course of the day I’ve heard reports of mainly young people, in significant numbers, leaving the SNP. I know many of you personally; I consider you friends; I’ve campaigned alongside you. You are a credit to our party and our country.

“It grieves me deeply that you’ve reached this conclusion after much soul-searching because you consider, at this stage, the SNP not to be a safe, tolerant or welcoming place for trans people. That’s not acceptable to me. As SNP leader I will do everything I can to change that impression and to persuade all of you that the SNP is your party and that you should come home where you belong.”

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In the 10 months since coronavirus began to menace the country three major stories have emerged that indicate a gross failure of the Scottish Government’s basic duty of care to its most vulnerable citizens. The first of these was the decision to send elderly, untested hospital patients into care homes, a move which rapidly turned these places into mortuaries. A few months later the Government’s system of predicting the exam results of Scotland’s secondary school pupils was revealed to have discriminated against children living in our poorest communities.

This was followed at the end of the year with the latest drug deaths total. More than 1200 people died of drug misuse in 2019, three and a half times the rate for England and Wales and a record high for the sixth year running. Yet, none of these failures seem to matter to the First Minister as much as the concerns of an unknown number of people claiming to have left her party owing to unspecified assertions of transphobia.

HeraldScotland:

What we do know is that thousands of people have left the party since the heady six-figure membership heights of 2015. We also know that significant number of them are women who felt threatened by a campaign of intimidation waged against them by trans activists simply for expressing their sincere belief that men can’t become women just because they declare it so to be.

As well as expressing the hope that some of those claiming transphobia will return to the fold, Ms Sturgeon ought to be investigating how many others directly or indirectly participated in a hate campaign against Joanna Cherry, Joan McAlpine and assorted colleagues. These women are being targeted for expressing their belief that sex is a biological fact. Both of them and many of their colleagues who have received similar treatment are committed feminists who have spent their adult lives fighting against sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

Indeed some who fancy themselves trans allies have contrived their position in the belief that it makes them appear progressive and radical. In truth they’re about as progressive as Nigel Farage. Let’s speak freely here: how much of this is a front for nothing more than a political faction fight?

We know that women have left the party owing to misogynistic bullying by some trans activists because they wrote to the SNP to complain about their treatment. The SNP executive knows who the main culprits are. We know this too because Joanna Cherry, considered a potential future party leader, has also complained about a three-year campaign of threats and intimidation against her by some of these people. At one stage she was given 24-hour police protection. To date, neither the party nor Nicola Sturgeon have lifted a finger to support her.

Kate Forbes has also been targeted by some trans activists simply because she’s a committed Chrsitian. Other elected politicians who profess Christianity have received similar treatment, including an insidious campaign to have them de-selected. The level of anti-Christian sentiment became so intense and alarming that the Catholic Church in Scotland was moved to condemn it last September. Throughout this Ms Sturgeon remained silent as did all those other performance artists now jostling for favour at the top of the party who profess to be beacons of progressiveness.

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Transphobia, like racism and sexism, does exist in Scotland and is just as ugly and unacceptable as any other type of oppression. The tragedy for many transgender people is that the stage-managed antics of some SNP activists and their friends in high places works against them when they do experience transphobia. The issue deserves much better than to be used as part of a wider strategy to bring down a political opponent.

Meanwhile the campaign of harassment against Joanna Cherry proceeds with the tacit approval of some in her own party. There was another onslaught this week including several accusations of promoting anti-Semitism against her [Cherry]."

Typical of the abuse she’s had to endure was this tweet by a known individual: “Joanna Cherry is a disgusting c**t who should quite frankly just f**k off. Horrible, horrible woman. What are you saying about this @the SNP? Are you or aren’t you a liberal party that does not tolerate this hate? Disgusting. Stop letting her speak for your party.”

Well, now the SNP have said something, but they appear impervious to the ongoing threats being faced by many women in their own party.

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