Readers' Letters: Sturgeon took wrong approach over self-ID

Nicola Sturgeon’s carefully confected outrage at Alister Jack’s invoking of Section 35 of the Scotland Act of 1998 against the Gender Recognition Reform bill may have impressed her Green allies and sundry supporters of the bill.

It has, however, been met with relief by the many who campaigned against this bill. Above all, there has been no significant groundswell of popular support for it.

Having used the Supreme Court once to try to stir up support for a referendum, no doubt Ms Sturgeon will resort to the law once more. I have no idea how genuinely invested she is in the Green/Stonewall campaign on gender self-ID, but I am in no doubt that her uncompromising stance on the most controversial aspects of the bill have more to do with creating a standoff with the UK Government.

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It could all have been so different if the SNP had not positioned itself as the permanent opposition to the UK Government. Discussion between them of the issues, especially where they impinge on the Equalities Act, should have taken place, but for Ms Sturgeon and her allies the confrontational approach is generally the first resort.

Rishi Sunak and Nicola Sturgeon smile for the cameras at their meeting last week (Picture: Downing Street)Rishi Sunak and Nicola Sturgeon smile for the cameras at their meeting last week (Picture: Downing Street)
Rishi Sunak and Nicola Sturgeon smile for the cameras at their meeting last week (Picture: Downing Street)

This issue is indeed momentous. The implications for women and girls in their “safe spaces” are a matter of deep concern. Yet for the SNP this is overwhelmingly just the next stage in their long war of attrition to try to break up the UK.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

New Covenanters

If Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie had any real interest in a “conversation” about gender self-ID or “democracy” as they claim, why did they blitz their self-ID Bill through Holyrood in record time in December, when they knew full well that most public and media eyes would be fixed on Christmas? Why the urgency to rush non-emergency legislation that wasn't part of any manifesto pledges at the last Holyrood election?

Today, the phrase “have a conversation” – much loved by trans-rights Covenanters (like their 17th century counterparts, they rabidly insist anyone disagreeing with their “Sound Doctrine” is “cancelled”) – has become synonymous with rabid secular cultists out to silence with violence all “heresy”.Addled with self-righteous hate, blind to rationality or scientific fact, they see democracy's circumvention by skulduggery as the perquisite of the “righteous”. While Rishi Sunak's intervention is welcome, it’s just a pity it's taken a month's growls from Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch to force his hand.

Mark Boyle, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Time to reflect

Since the UK Government has now blocked the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, the Scottish Parliament should take the time to reflect on some of the Bill’s ideologically driven and unsafe provisions.

This is especially important since a number of those interested in gender transitioning are young people with psychosocial and psychiatric vulnerabilities, including depression and suicidal feelings, which makes it difficult for them to make well-thought-through decisions. Many will also be under the age of 18, an age at which they cannot even buy fireworks or a lottery ticket, place a bet or get tattooed.

The Scottish Parliament should, therefore, take the opportunity to support the progressive and responsible principles of protecting vulnerable persons by providing medical advice when transitioning decisions are being considered and raise the age of consent.

(Dr) Calum MacKellar, Scottish Council on Human Bioethics, Edinburgh

Minor keys

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I remember, decades ago, reacting with concern when laws were introduced regarding human sexuality. It seemed then that moving the goal posts to placate minorities would result in further pressure from other minorities. Surely this is what we are seeing, as the current gender recognition issues hit the headlines, underlining the inevitable and ensuing distortions and complexities.

How much further can these goalposts move before society is completely abandoned to whatever pleases individuals?

Olive Bell, Dunbar, East Lothian


It is no surprise that the new gender legislation was opposed by MSPs of all parties. Indeed, it is surprising it was not opposed by a more substantial cohort from the SNP. This, remember, is a party which spent six years of parliamentary time and who knows how much taxpayers' money arguing that our “children” required a “guardian” to safeguard their interests until the age of 18! What advice would their named person have given to a child of 16, I wonder, who was contemplating what The Scotsman calls a decision with “life-changing consequences”?

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh


While some seem content to go along with the UK Government line that uniquely invoking a Section 35 order is necessary to avoid legislative conflict over gender recognition within the UK, others question why the UK Government has been so slow to introduce the necessary reform of its own GR legislation. Those who claim this is not an attempt to politically exploit the current predicament of a disadvantaged minority of the population should also question why it is apparently acceptable for those benefitting from similar reforms in other countries to conduct their lives in accordance with their “new identity” in England but those that would be coming from Scotland would need to be considered differently?

What is evident is that a Tory UK Government will do everything within its power to emasculate the Scottish Parliament and even in a devolved matter will attempt to block a bill overwhelmingly supported by Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats, as well as by the SNP and the Greens.

Not only is Scottish parliamentary democracy being denied, devolved government from Holyrood, introduced with the backing of the vast majority of the voting Scottish electorate, is day-by-day effectively being neutered by an authoritarian right-wing government in Westminster.

With more of our individual rights set to be extinguished in further doubling-down on the Brexit catastrophe it is imperative that those who to-date have sat on the constitutional sidelines now speak out and demonstrate to de facto Governor Alister Jack that not only is there a strong “desire” in Scotland for our country to be in the European Union, there is an undeniable right of the people of Scotland to determine their own destiny.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Ferry failures

I have no real opinion on gender recognition reform other than to wish trans people well. What I do object to is Nicola Sturgeon's language in relation to the section 35 order leaving them “marginalised and vulnerable”.

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Through sheer incompetence on her part and that of her camp followers the same words could be used to describe the thousands of residents of the Western Isles who are also being left “marginalised and vulnerable”. We now hear the principal Calmac ferry is in dry dock for a £1 million refit and, surprise surprise, the Turkish yard is cutting steel for the second ferry three weeks early.

If I were a resident of the Western Isles I would be roasting Angus MacNeil, Ian Blackford and the rest of the SNP supporting cast who are singing fairly dumb on the whole fiasco with never so much as an apology from any of them.

“Marginalised and vulnerable” – Nicola, your sentiments are going in the wrong direction, the gender reform episode is only another cog to the grinding of the grievance machinery.

Alexander Sutherland, Aberdeen

Birth tax?

Catherine Baxter’s point (Letters, 16 January) that some Scottish pupils who cannot get a place at a Scottish university because of the roll cap go on to university in England raises the very serious issue that these students will have to pay tuition fees for their university education.

It is grossly unfair that these young people are being penalised by a system that relies on other countries to fund Scottish higher education. Sadly, many young Scots who are rejected by our universities will not embark on a university career because of the costs involved.

It is time that the whole Scottish higher education funding model was reviewed and a fairer system identified.

Maureen Henry, Glasgow


Stewart McDonald MP writes: “We must create the conditions for pro-Union voters to accept a result they don’t want” (Perspective, 14 January).

Scotland had its vote on Independence in 2014 but the SNP refused to accept the result. Had the SNP accepted the result it would have saved us from the deterioration we are now seeing in every area of life in Scotland.

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The SNP have had eight years to make friends but have done the exact opposite. Their arrogance and conceit defies belief.

Rosemary Macdonald, Edinburgh

New Year’s EV

The electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla has just thrown the EV market into confusion by instantaneously reducing the cost of three types of electric vehicles by £7,000, £8,000 and £9,000.

My heart goes out to anyone who bought their electric car a day or two before this astounding announcement was made, and it can't be welcome knowledge to someone about to sell their second-hand EV.

It also highlights the massive profits that were being made on those non-fossil fuel vehicles, if the maker can reduce the prices so much and still make a profit!

Archibald A Lawrie, Kingskettle, Fife

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