The most divisive and antagonistic debate in modern UK politics effectively started with a message of tolerance and hope. It was tweeted in December, 2019 by JK Rowling. “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

Ms Rowling’s tweet seemed to capture several of the core values that a reasonable person would associate with a modern liberal democracy: a thirst for social justice underscored by human compassion and a celebration of diversity. And all of it underpinned by a call to truth. This is what we wanted for Scotland in the devolved era.

The issues captured in her tweet and several others from around this time had been proceeding covertly for a few years before Ms Rowling’s vivid interventions. The antagonism and poison began to pour forth, though, when she became involved. And almost all of it from one side.

READ MORE: Cass Review findings to be considered by Scottish Government

In the eyes of some trans rights activists, Ms Rowling’s most ignoble malfeasance wasn’t in defending the rights of women to safeguard their spaces from men masquerading as women. They raged at her because she had exposed them.

The success of their stratagems had rested on concealing their work from public scrutiny. Fat chance of that happening now: not when the world’s best-loved author with millions of followers decides to shout “haud on a minute”.

Much easier to menace and take down the lone academic or the medical practitioner or the public official who has strayed from the herd and attempted to raise some red flags. And amidst this cohort those who had warned of the threat to the health of vulnerable young people by prescribing them puberty blockers seemed to attract the greatest malevolence. Destroying their careers and bearing false witness against them would act pour encourager les autres.

Nor was JK Rowling’s intervention rooted in the random desire of an itchy billionaire to inject some drama into her rarefied existence. It followed a long-established pattern of care. Having accessed wealth and influence after years of struggle she’d seemed determined to share some of it with the voiceless and the marginalised. She co-founded Lumos, a charity that helps vulnerable and disadvantaged children who have experienced institutionalisation. She also established the Volant Charitable Trust whose stated aim is to “alleviate social deprivation primarily across Scotland, supporting women, children and young people at risk”. Two years ago, she founded Beira’s Place, a service for female victims of domestic violence.

In keeping with her belief, shared by an overwhelming majority of Scots, that sex is real, Beira’s Place restricts its services to traumatised biological women. She has donated millions to these causes and others.

In devolved-era Scotland, whose senior political officers are pledged to progressiveness and a preferential option for the poor, you’d have expected academia – jiggy with admiration – queuing to confer honorary degrees upon her. She would most certainly be a dame by now and be advising this jejune and faltering Scottish Government in formulating policies for our most marginalised communities. Instead, they have constructed a scaffold for her and encouraged her enemies to abuse her and threaten her.

The Herald: Hilary CassHilary Cass (Image: PA)

When Scotland’s chaotically-devised Hate Crime Act came into force, Ms Rowling set about constructing an Iron Dome to shelter feminists and gay and lesbian people. She knew – as did we all – that a torrent of vexatious accusations would be levelled at them for rejecting the lies that women can have a penis; that men can wish themselves into becoming women and that children can be born in the wrong body.

She did this by naming a number of individuals whom she identified by the sex in which they were born. Some of them were rapists who had changed their sex to access the female prison estate (men who were “at it” to quote Humza Yousaf’s memorable phrase). Others were those who had helped create a hostile environment for her and her family.

The response to this intervention was as though MeToo had never occurred. Thus, a woman who has been vilified, threatened and verbally abused is rebuked by a suite of boutique progressives for having the temerity to fight back. It would be laughable if it weren’t so depressing. And so predictable.

It seems though, that Ms Rowling’s timing was impeccable. Within a few days, many of her warnings about extreme gender dogma had been vindicated by the review of Hilary Cass into the state of healthcare for gender-distressed children in England and Wales. The headline takeaways have been picked clean since it was published last week. These rightly focused upon the vast scale of failures by the NHS to care for some of the UK’s most vulnerable and emotionally fragile children and young people.

READ MORE: Hilary Cass: Ideology on all sides directed gender care of children

Yet, it’s also an uplifting and inspiring read, suffused with compassion and – dare I say it – love for these children. A love that is lacking in those who would seek to exploit them. Hundreds of them had been used as laboratory specimens for untested and dubious treatments, such as puberty blockers, to advance a callous and cynical agenda. You can only guess at the motivation of those adults advocating for this, knowing that the effects were potentially ruinous for young people’s physical and psychological development.

Elements of the orchestrated campaign against JK Rowling are also evident in some responses to the Cass Review. They have come from an assortment of the usual vested interests furious that, like Ms Rowling in 2020, Hilary Cass had exposed some sinister practices to the light.

What has been most depressing, though, is the callous and cowardly reaction of Humza Yousaf and his ministers in choosing to look the other way. The same practices, underpinned by the same ruinous ideology, are happening in Scotland. Indeed, the Scottish Government has been warned often by politicians from across the political spectrum about the appalling effects of puberty blockers on young people.

These dangers have now been laid bare by one of the world’s most eminent paediatricians following a four-year study. To reinforce its authority, York University was commissioned to conduct "independent systematic reviews of existing evidence and new qualitative and quantitative research to build on the evidence base”.

In the face of this, the Scottish Government would prefer to indulge those who think there’s nothing to see here. Those deficiencies that have come to characterise Humza Yousaf and his ministers, ‘mediocrity’ and ‘incompetence’ and ‘stupidity’ are inadequate here.

This is much, much worse: this is wickedness.