IT’S FAIR to say Nicola Sturgeon’s column in The Guardian raised a few eyebrows when it was published on Monday.

In an article looking at the row around juryless rape trials, the former first minister admitted that she had underestimated how polarised Scotland’s politics had become.

It was a surprising admission given that Scotland’s longest-serving first minister has never been too shy about throwing the odd hand grenade into the public discourse.

She claimed the divided nature of the country meant the proposals hadn't been given a fair hearing, which, ironically, is the argument used by most of those opposing the plans.

The SNP-Green administration's working majority in Holyrood means the government doesn’t really have to worry too much about convincing MSPs to back the legislation. To be fair, they haven't had to worry too much about needing to convince MSPs to back their legislation since 2011. Their majority has allowed them to easily bulldoze through just about anything they want.

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And so when Sturgeon claims people are too entrenched in their opposition to the Scottish Government, to independence, to the SNP to give proper consideration to the rape trials proposals, you can understand why readers of the left-wing broadsheet might have spluttered quinoa over their Birkenstocks.

Not that Sturgeon is solely to blame for the polarisation of Scottish politics. It was a bit much when all of the other political parties put out press releases on Monday, commenting as if they’re just delicate flowers who would have relished a chat and a fireside discussion had it not been for the SNP JCB.

It's that we're not polarised. We know from the swathes of polling available to us, and the fact that the dial has barely moved – when it comes to independence, voters are solidly entrenched.

But what about everything else? Is talk of polarisation actually just a way to attack reasonable criticism of the government’s performance?

Because the thing with the criticism over the jury proposal is that it’s not coming from people who simply don’t like the SNP or independence, or any of those other polarising issues of recent years, like Brexit and the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

As you may know, the plan set out in the new Victims, Witnesses and Justice Reform (Scotland) Bill, was for a “fully evaluated pilot scheme” of a rape and attempted rape trial conducted by a single judge without a jury.

The Scottish Government said it was about trying to tackle rape myths, the preconceptions that jurors take into court with them.

These are things like the idea that a “genuine victim” would seek to escape or resist or immediately report an offence. Or that previous sexual contact between a complainer and an accused is indicative of consent.

But for defence lawyers across Scotland, there are a number of very basic deficiencies with the plan, not least the very fact that it is a pilot.

Earlier this month, Lord Uist described the proposals as “constitutionally repugnant” and questioned whether they were within Holyrood's legislative competence, as politicians “treating the courts as forensic laboratories in which to experiment with their policies” would likely breach the right to a fair trial as set out under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

In her column, Sturgeon, who signed off on the Bill while still first minister, said that this was “not a politician-inspired plan to undermine the justice system”. In fact, the proposal is...

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