The day devolution died

On Monday, devolution died. The devolution settlement had already been under constant attack from the Conservatives at Westminster for several years, despite their solemn vow, signed by then Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014 in an attempt to persuade the people of Scotland not to reject Westminster rule in that year’s independence referendum that no Westminster Government would meddle with the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. The promises of that infamous vow have been traduced and broken one after another ever since the Westminster parties secured their longed-for no vote.

However on Monday, the Conservatives pressed the nuclear button and for the first time in the history of the devolved Scottish Parliament have used a Section 35 order to prevent a bill relating to devolved matters from receiving Royal Assent and passing into law. Section 35 of the Scotland Act gives the Scotland Secretary the legal power to block any legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament, even legislation which relates to devolved matters if in his or her opinion, that legislation has an impact on legislation which is reserved to Westminster. The relevant UK legislation in this instance is the Equalities Act, but the Scottish Government strongly refutes any claim that the Scottish Gender Recognition Bill has any impact upon the Equalities Act. The Scottish bill itself explicitly states that it has no impact on the Equality Act 2010, saying in Section 15 A: “For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Act modifies the Equality Act 2010”.

As the First Minister said once the news came out that the Conservatives intended to block the bill: “This is a full-frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish Parliament and its ability to make its own decisions on devolved matters.”

Make no mistake, the Conservatives are not taking this step out of a genuine concern for women’s rights. No party which introduced and supports the rape clause gives a toss about the rights and dignity of women. The Conservatives have slashed social security benefits and public services which women disproportionately rely on. So do not believe a word of the self-serving cant about protecting women’s interests which you will hear from the Conservatives over the coming days. Further evidence of Conservative hypocrisy and political opportunism lies in the fact that the UK Government already accepts and fully recognises gender self-identification certificates from 18 other countries which do not require a judge or medical expert to be involved. These include Ireland and eight other European countries, but apparently Scottish processes are deemed uniquely untrustworthy. The onus is on the Conservatives to explain why self-ID in Scotland is so egregiously different from the self-ID in the eighteen other countries whose gender recognition certificates are recognised by the UK authorities.

What is really happening here is that the Conservatives are cynically exploiting a culture wars issue and are using trans people as a political football in order to attack and undermine the Scottish Parliament, the most powerful institution in the whole United Kingdom which they do not control. They are choosing this issue because they think that they will be able to count on the tacit support of independence supporters who dislike the Gender Recognition Bill in order to overcome opposition to their power grab. It also provides a convenient distraction from their blatantly anti-democratic proposals to criminalise legitimate and peaceful protest, including, irony of ironies, women who are protesting about governmental and institutional inaction on male violence against women.

If you claim to support independence but you welcome this Conservative attack on devolution because you dislike the Gender Recognition Bill, you are essentially saying that Scotland needs Westminster in order to save it from itself, that Scotland cannot be trusted to make its own decisions and its own laws.

You are, in other words, doing the British nationalists’ job for them. Independence does not mean : ” I support independence but only as long as the Scottish Parliament makes decisions that I agree with.”

Both independence and devolution mean that Scotland has the ability to make its own decisions via the normal legislative processes whether you happen to believe those decisions are good or bad. Remember, the freedom for Scotland to make different choices means nothing if Scotland is not also free to make choices which some might consider to be the wrong choices.

The issue here is not the merits of the Gender Recognition Bill, it’s a bill which passed through the Scottish Parliament following the normal procedures and scrutiny of any bill which goes through the Scottish Parliament. Indeed given the controversy which surrounded this bill it is arguable that it received greater scrutiny than most bills which come before the Scottish Parliament. Eventually the bill was passed with the support of a two thirds majority of MSPs. The bill received cross party support and was backed by a majority of MSPs from the SNP, the Greens, Labour, and the Lib Dems, even three Scottish Conservative MSPs broke with their party colleagues in order to vote in favour of the bill. This bill is assuredly not the SNP versus everyone else. This is a bill with wide cross party support in the Scottish Parliament. This is the Tories versus everyone else.

The Rubicon has now been crossed. The Tories seek to establish a precedent for the use of a Section 35 order to block Scottish legislation relating to a devolved matter in full knowledge that if they are able to get away with this move, then it will become much easier and more politically acceptable for them to take the same step in future and use it to strike down any legislation passed by Holyrood which is not to their liking. The Scottish Parliament will have been transformed into a toothless talking shop.

We saw the exact same playbook when the Sewel Convention was written into the Scotland Act. The provision that the “Parliament of the United Kingdom will not legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament,” was altered to read “will not *normally* legislate with regard to devolved matters”, then the definition of ‘normally’ was widened and widened until now we are at the point where Westminster feels free to legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament whenever it feels like it. If they succeed in blocking this bill, they will block many more.

Once the Conservatives at Westminster establish the principle that they can use a section 35 order to block a bill which was passed by the Scottish Parliament, no legislation or policies of the Scottish Government will be safe. There would be nothing to prevent the Conservatives from claiming that the Scottish Government’s refusal to grant planning permission for new nuclear power plants impinges on UK energy policy, which is a reserved matter.

This is no longer about the Gender Recognition Bill, this is about the right of the Scottish Parliament to pass legislation relating to devolved issues without the UK Government looking over its shoulder and refusing to agree to any Scottish legislation that it dislikes.

The stage is now set for a constitutional battle between Holyrood and Westminster but yet again we see that the devolution settlement cannot protect Scotland from a Conservative government which is prepared to ride roughshod over the decisions of the Scottish Parliament. If Scotland wants to make its own democratic decisions, it can only do so as an independent nation. The devolution settlement is now effectively dead. Democracy in Scotland depends on this country achieving independence.


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90 comments on “The day devolution died

  1. Isobel Macrae-Wilson says:

    Like many many women, I feel that there are elements of the GRR that I wonder about. Nothing though would make me support the insidious creeping of insidious creeps in Tories in Westminster and their branch officers up here in stopping a democratic cross party agreed bill. To use trans folks, who are one of the most vulnerable groups in society as a political football in their assault on democratic decisions made by ScotParl, a constitutional ruse to have a scrap with the SNP/Greens. I think the message from our FM will be “come ahead McQuillan, yer teas oot”

  2. Hamish100 says:

    It is nothing short of appeasing the Tory heartland. I used the word heart but the tories once again are shown to be heartless, vindictive and undemocratic.

    My loathing of them has dropped even lower than I could imagine. Tory friends and neighbours will be advised.

    The best people to Govern Scotland are the people of Scotland. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

    • Bob Lamont says:

      I must with the greatest of respect disagree on the first point, it is appeasing PARTS of the Tory ‘apparatus’ – The agitation of late among what you might call grassroots Tories in England to recent Tory Party “initiatives” has been furious, but on this latest GRR development they have become positively incandescent with rage.

      Normally I have no time for Tory perspectives, but what I find intriguing is the Tory Party finally splitting into extremists and traditionalists, the former encamped in Westminster. This will not end well.

      The Westminster Tories, and Alister Jack-Schitt in particular are indulging in a dangerous game of one-upmanship in which they will most assuredly lose, even among their core support.

  3. Succinctly put as usual Paul. Just when you thought they could not get any more revolting / stoop any lower, they manage yet again to achieve this. England is totally screwed. Not a single policy is thought through any more. It’s all right-wing knee jerk reactionary perceived populism. There’s no way back for it with the status quo. The greatest gift we can give the people there is the end of the UK.

    Interestingly, the views of people in England may yet play a role by creating pressure at home. They are watching their own government do this to Scotland and the majority don’t think it’s right at all. They support us having our referendum even if they do wish the union to continue. I suspect they’ll also be very unhappy at this interference too, knowing it is their own government driving wedges between the home nations.

    If I was English, I’d be apologising to Scottish people for this when visiting etc. Much like we wish to tell Europeans we didn’t vote for Brexit.

    Sadly, it seems the British government is going down the classic ‘English approach’ ((c) the Pope) of bludgeoning democratic repression in dealing with us, which can only do real harm to cross-border relations, hastening the demise of what’s left of the British empire.

  4. Old Pete says:

    All the media are attacking Nicola Sturgeon and her government for causing this ‘situation ‘ no balance whatever. How can we allow the diktat from England to stand, surely it should cause a rise of support for Scottish Independence.
    Sure the 9 SNP MSP’s who voted against the bill will be so happy and along with Ms Cherry will be congratulating Mr Jack for blocking it. Is it a resigning matter for them ?

    • grizebard says:

      They won’t. And shouldn’t. You are just looking to sow yet more division, when it’s exactly the opposite that’s needed now. Who needs “friends” like you? Only the Union.

    • keaton says:

      Sure the 9 SNP MSP’s who voted against the bill will be so happy and along with Ms Cherry will be congratulating Mr Jack for blocking it. Is it a resigning matter for them ?

      The only minister who voted against it resigned months ago and JC said she opposes the S35, so no one knows what you’re on about.

  5. Hamish100 says:

    Of course bbc polities wheels in Melanie Phillips of the Times who epitomises the hard right agenda with anti snp speakers including 1 Tory MP and the SNP MSP down the wire from Edinburgh. Watching the individuals reading their notes and repeating verbatim their objections from England indicating that their real genuine concerns over this bill is just flannel.
    Tory MSP’s in hiding

    I do think Scots MPs should now vote on any English issue in the commons as it may impact on us. Disrupt, distract annoy.

    • ‘Melanie Phillips’

      Is that the medical expert on gender dysphoria with the PhD on related human rights policy?

      You wonder why they don’t invite someone from the BMA to give their thoughts.

  6. Golfnut says:

    Don’t know what program it was, the hosts were the 2 fronting that dancing on ice show, Nick Ferrar( may or may not be the correct spelling) and an expert, apparently. Neither had a clue what they were talking about but SNP bad and Sunak was right to intervene, so there. I doubt strongly Sunak has a clue what’s in the 2010 ukok gender bill.

  7. yesindyref2 says:

    ‘Cause the Tories hoped to make us kneel
    Our democracy they tried to steal
    But the Bill was for the common weal
    The day the Devo died.

  8. Sophie Grace Chappell says:

    Thanks, Paul.
    As a trans person, it is deeply distressing to have your life turned into a political football by unelected bigots with no standing to interfere in Scotland’s affairs.
    What a dark and horrible place the UK is becoming.

  9. Capella says:

    I oppose the GRR and the GRA and I wish the SG had picked another hill to die on. But here we are.
    I don’t believe the Tories care much about women, nor about trans gender people. They do care about power. By blocking this bill they can use all the means at their disposal – the MSM and social media – to target women with the threats to the safety of women and girls which Self ID implies.

    When the next election, be it Holyrood or Westminster, or the next referendum comes along then the votes of women will be in the balance. Women constitute 52% of the electorate. That’s a very big target audience.

    • It’s not the SG that picked this hill to die on though. It’s the UK government that’s picked it.

      This is the UK government vs the Scottish Parliament / people on a devolved domestic policy which has naff all to do with indy. It’s UK vs the SNP, but England vs the SNP, Scottish / Welsh Greens, Labour, Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and even a few Tartan / Welsh Tories. Whatever people’s views on the bill, this much is true.

      A really odd hill for the English government to die on, that’s for sure.

    • Eilidh says:

      You have confused me Capella what is GRR as opposed to GRA. The media are reporting many women are against GRA I wholeheartedly disagree that is the case a few political polls with little more than 1000 taking part is not significant or appropriate evidence that many women in Scotland are against GRA. I only know one woman who is against it but it is fine to disagree with it. I detest the Tories and the media even more now because of what they have turned this into and the loud mouth bigots who post on social media and the National against trans rights and GRA. Weird that they seem to seem to be mostly male. I have to admit to being disenchanted with certain feminist groups regarding their stance on trans rights too. Shame since I am a feminist

      • Capella says:

        The Gender Recognition Act 2004 – GRA – was the original act which allows people to change the sex marker on their birth certificate to reflect a change of gender. A two year waiting period of “living in the new gender” and a letter of confirmation from two doctors (one of them a psychiatrist I think) has to be submitted to a national panel which decides whether to grant the certificate or not.

        Gender Recognition Reform – GRR – is the bill which has just been passed by the Scottish Government. It reduces the 2 year waiting period to 6 months, reduces the age limit to 16 and dispenses with any medical opinion. The process is based entirely on Self ID.

        Many women, like myself, don’t believe that men can turn into women. So constructing law on a fallacy is bound to lead to problems.

        The focus on men is obviously because of the predatory nature of some men and the impossibility of telling which ones are predatory. Hence the need for “safe spaces” specially for women who have been traumatised by male violence.

    • Deçoise says:

      As other commenters have alluded to, this legislation has been in the works for about 6 years. It was even the official policy in Theresa May’s government and it was dropped with the arrival of that thatchen haired oaf.

      Why the tories have chosen this legislation to attempt political games on, I don’t know. Maybe they thought they could get away with it. As Scots, we should show them how wrong they are.

      • keaton says:

        The culture war is the Conservatives’ best hope of not being crushed at the GE. They picked this issue in because polling suggests the GRR is fairly unpopular in Scotland, so they think they’ll get away with it (though interestingly, despite the constant framing of it as harmful for “women and girls”, it’s more popular with women than men).

  10. Dr Jim says:

    Indeed, folk cannot keep demanding Nicola Sturgeon run around like the proverbial blue Arsed fly mitigating the bad decisions they don’t like from England then demanding she be overruled by England on other decisions

    The media has deliberately created the myth that Nicola Sturgeon is the one and only solo total responsibility mitigation woman to either fix England’s damage or deflect it, and if she is unable to do all these things with no power to do it then she’s a failure or incompetent

    The benefits of living in Scotland under the SNP have been enormous and folks memories are short when it comes to what they have now with devolution and take these benefits for granted

    The moment has come now when people must choose, and it’s a simple choice, return to pre devolution with the Labour party under the direction of Tory rule, which they never once mitigated for anything, they just passed it all on to us and moaned about voting for them and one day in the future all will be well, which it never was, was it? or get a tight grip on ourselves and get on with the job of leaving England to it

    England will always vote for what suits them, and you can’t blame them for that, England is their country so why on earth should they give a toss about Scotland, they never will because they don’t live here, but they do choose the governments that rule here by sheer weight of numbers, that’s why the voting system of FPTP will never ever be changed, because if they did change it Scotland and Wales could end up with more authority and England wouldn’t stand for that, so they want their cake and eat it

    It’s time for Scotland to cut its own slice of cake, mixing and baking it in our own oven, and making it to the taste of the folk who live here

    English rule has never been good for any country in the world or they’d still have their happy lovely empire, the world kicked English rule out of their countries following years of theft murder fraud and cruelty

    If we don’t take our independence from England, England will take everything from us

    • deelsdugs says:

      Agreed Dr Jim.
      This is far more than political points for the tories. This is control and tyranny. It’s as if the tories have taken on a whole new dimension in the form of Russian dictatorship.
      I fear Scotland is almost doomed. Going to have to do something drastic sooner, rather than later. The democratic way is being concreted over like the continuous building from developer-led planning of brick mountains stacked like dominoes, under the guise of ‘housing’ – the future’s ‘archaeological monuments’.

  11. As a general point, it really is an odd hill for the English government to choose to die on.

    Reforms change basically nothing in law, bar allowing trans people to e.g. get a new passport with ‘M’ on it rather than ‘F’. And I say it that way because there are notably more transmen than women (E&W census, Irish data). As Paul notes, the Equality Act remains unaffected. People’s rights, including sex based, are just not changing. You are not obliged to undress in front of anyone you don’t want to!

    We’ve been sharing loos and changing rooms with trans people all our lives, but just have not noticed (and people shouldn’t be looking at what strangers have between their legs nor showing off what they have between their own!). In the past, they feared repercussions if ‘caught’, but the Equality Act dealt with that a long time ago. Since then, they’ve been free to use the facilitates they feel most comfortable with without fear of problems. At 1 in 200, probability is we’ve all have had a trans person in cubicle down from us at least once in our lifetimes. The reality will be far more frequent if we use such facilities a lot.

    This change simply is for passports, driving license etc. Going by Ireland (self-id 2015), we can expect a couple of hundred applications a year, mostly, as noted, from natal females. It is women who are most negatively affected by the arduous GRC process, and us males the most ‘affected’ in terms of new entrants to our loos etc. 🙂

    It would have been nice if the British media had presented things as they are, but this is Britain we are talking about.

    Instead, we get J.K. Rowling screaming on the BBC about ‘throwing open’ peoples cubicle doors from Gretna to John O’Groats, rather than say someone from the BMA calmly saying why the ‘diagnosis’ for trans is by, erm self-id, just like it is for LGBH. It’s not as if these things can be determined from blood tests or MRI scans! 🙂

    I’m a Scot, get me out of this revolting excuse for a country that is the UK.

    • Legerwood says:

      Talking of numbers last night on the 6 o’clock news on BBC the report said there were less than 40 GRCs obtained in Scotland per year under the current process and that was expected to rise to 200 to 400 under the new self-ID. The last figure I saw for GRC certificates issued in the whole of the UK was 5000 or thereabouts.

      • Bob Lamont says:

        🤣How typical of HMS James Cook, “expected to rise to 200 to 400 under the new self-ID” without the slightest hint of why or who expect such a number – The State of a Secretary for Flounce in Scotland perchance or one of his footmen, James Cook, Glenn Campbell, Andrew Kerr ?
        It’s not hard to spot the propaganda when they dream up big numbers to portray a Baillie – aka a Tsumani…

        • Legerwood says:

          For once it was not James Cook but a young woman reporter described as the reporter for LGBT matters. I had never seen her before

        • Capella says:

          The estimates are from the Scottish Government as reported in Alister Jack’s statement of reasons for S35 order Note 5:

          The Scottish Government expects the number of annual applicants to increase to 250 to 300 (based on data from Ireland which introduced a similar regime to a similarly sized population, albeit with cultural differences) from a baseline of about 30 per year (according to the National Records of Scotland in relation only to those born in Scotland) – suggesting a tenfold increase. The SG estimates are however vulnerable to significant uncertainty. They are based on historic data from other European countries which do not have equivalent systems. The closest such system in a country with a similar sized population to Scotland has seen an average of 550 applications a year, considerably exceeding the SG estimate. No rationale was given during the consultation or passage of the Bill for the relatively low SG estimates compared to the estimated population of the trans community. SG Cabinet Secretary Shona Robinson, introducing the Bill on 3 March 2022 stated: “There are around 25,000 people in the trans community in Scotland but only around 600 of them have a gender recognition certificate…far more of those 25,000 would have wanted to obtain a gender recognition certificate”. Sources for international frameworks: Review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004: consultation (Annex D), Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill: equality impact assessment. Sources for SG data/estimates: Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill Financial Memorandum (PDF) and Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill: business and regulatory impact assessment. ↩

          • I’d say Ireland would match our case well. It went down the new route in 2015 and issued 195 GRCs in 2021.

            The number of trans people of course hasn’t changed, just a few more have got the passport they’ve always wanted.

            If only we could have Scottish ones!

          • Bob Lamont says:

            Fair enough both this was from an external source, BUT, consider the framing.
            It is inconceivable that NEW applicants under the reformed GRA are suddenly going to rise from 40 to 200-400 PER ANNUM.

      • 300 would be 1 in 18,000 people.

        Chances of you picking up a clover to discover it has 4 leaves is 1 in 10,000.

        To put things in perspective!

  12. yesindyref2 says:

    The reasons the colonial governor general of Jockland, member of the completely heartless and inhumane party has decided to trample all over democracy and trans people, has been published, here’s the html version:

    • yesindyref2 says:

      Earlier via Aileen McHarg, I got this, Michael Ancram (CONSERVATIVE) during the ddebate over the Scotland Act clause 33 which I presume became 35:

      When the Bill was published, the clause caused a certain amount of consternation, and almost immediately became known as the governor-general clause, or the veto clause. …

      That was Labour for you with the clause itself, the Tories actually tried to be the good guys !!!!

      And us plebs looked from one to the other and back from the other to the one and reached for the vomit bucket.

      • grizebard says:

        Aye, it’s always worth remembering that devolution was a Labour project, and all the traps were carefully crafted in by them. (Oh, and Labour in the Smith Commission that blocked virtually all improvements.)

        Although ironically enough it’s the operation of those traps by an increasingly-desperate Tory UKGov which are “hoisting these petards” (ie. blowing devo into smithereens), and in full public view.

        What could possibly go wrong…? {grin}

  13. Skintybroko says:

    Whether or not you agree with the GR legislation it went through all due process and was agreed by a parliamentary majority – this row is definitely not about GR but blatant political bullying. The media is now complicit in demonising GR as being an SNP only shit show – what a shit country we live in when the fascists can overrule democracy at any point – Drossy should be holding his head in shame

    • James Mills says:

      True – it’s Tory UK agin the Scottish Parliament !
      Can’t wait to hear DRoss disciplining those Scottish Tory MSPs who voted FOR this legislation AND Sarwar speaking out against his London boss , Starmer , who has also come out against the Scottish ( sic ) Labour MSPs who supported the act !

      It’s Laurel and Hardy time from London politicians – ”What another fine mess you’ve got us into ! ”

  14. Ken says:

    The Tories will be gone before long. Game over. People who support Independence need to vote at every election. A higher turnout to get rid of the opposition. Take another to vote as well. Use it or lose it. The Tories are done. A complete and utter shambles. It doesn’t even matter if a few hundred self ID. Who cares. No one. .

  15. fìor dhuine says:

    I am truly appalled that the WM government has blocked a democratic decision of the Scottish Parliament.

    I am absolutely relieved and delighted that they are blocking this dreadful, dangerous and misguided Act of the Scottish Parliament

    Talk about the Caledonian Antisyzygy!

    Serious people with professional knowledge and ability warned the Scottish government that this proposal was inconsistent with more fundamental Equailty legislation protecting inter alia the rights of women and girls.

    “It will:
    • Change the meaning of the protected characteristics of “sex” and “gender reassignment” within the Equality Act.
    • Remove the requirement to be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, making it legally possible for someone without gender dysphoria to change their legal sex for the purposes of the Equality Act.
    • Change the operation of the law in relation to single-sex services, making it potentially more difficult for women-only spaces to exclude biological males.
    • Change the operation of the law in relation to single-sex associations which cannot discriminate on the basis of gender reassignment in their membership admissions. This will grant a legal right to biological males who hold a Gender Recognition Certificate to be included (not to be excluded from) otherwise female-only groups and associations, inclusion that would otherwise not be required under UK law.
    • Change the law relating to single-sex schools. The law as it stands provides that 16-18-year-old biological males who hold a Gender Recognition Certificate cannot be excluded from single- sex girls schools. There is no exception for gender reassignment discrimination in relation to schools. This Bill will confer on certain biological males a legal right of admission to girls’ schools, a right which otherwise does not exist.
    • Change the nature of the Public Sector Equality Duty by changing the composition of those sharing the protected characteristics of sex and gender reassignment.”

    All wise counsel was ignored – and the legitimate concerns of TRANS people has been delayed and indeed put at risk.

    Moreover, the matter will inevitably damage the case for Scottish independence, since a majority of the Scottish people do NOT support the provisions of the blocked Act as it now stands, and will be astonished that this is the ditch Nicola Sturgeon has chosen as her last – which I fear it may well be. Many supporters of independence will be just as conflicted as I am – and many more so.

    Nicola is a gifted and effective politician, and was at one time our best hope of independence. I fear no more.

    The struggle for independence will need to be built again from the bottom up – by people who have less of a tin ear as to the needs and interests of all of Scotland’s people

    • andyfromdunning says:

      Spot on.

    • grizebard says:

      Oh jeez, give us a break. How on earth do you know what “the majority of the Scottish people” want? Do you possess extrasensory perception beyond that of mere mortals? Have you observed everyone running amok in protest, as if this was Iran or something? Have you seen any political party that seriously entertains your zealotry have any success in elections?

      Whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter, if you think for even an instant that an unelected Tory government in London is in any way inclined out of its own earnest goodwill to help people like you “re-stir the pot” after a perfectly valid democratic decision taken here at home, like it or not, then you have learnt nothing about the classic divide-and-rule of Perfidious Albion. So for all your fancy moniker, if you’re not an outright tool of English hegemony, you’re an idiot.

      • Alex Clark says:

        The fact that there were two very lengthy consultations and the views of thousands of individuals and groups were heard in those consultations with the majority being in favour of the bill, there will always be those on the losing side that know better.

        Fact of life that is.

      • JP58 says:

        It is fine to disagree Grizebard but please try and remain polite to people you disagree with. You do not win people to your cause with abuse.
        Like it or not the comment you have disagreed with probably reflects how a proportion of SNP voters (especially female) feel about this issue.
        While I may not agree with the ladies comments over the effects of GRA bill I am not female and therefore respect fact that I am unaffected by this bill. Now that Westminster have, unreasonably IMO, blocked bill and wish of Holyrood NS as FM had no alternative but to pursue this or Holyrood power will be diminished.
        This showdown was always going to come over some issue and unfortunately it has come over something, like it or not, the majority of public are not particularly vested in supporting and a section of female society are opposed to. I do agree with comment that this will, regardless of rights or wrongs of issues, set back support for both independence and is a gift to opponents of independence & Holyrood.
        As an independence supporter who voted SNP/Green at last election I am disappointed that the leadership has been naive enough to walk into this trap.
        Yes this bill has been in manifesto’s, has been debated ad nauseam and voted through by a large majority but I am sure the overall objectives of this could have been achieved without alienating so many female voters with the application of a bit more political intelligence. I am surprised that NS did not see this as she has been an excellent champion for women and has increased the female support for independence. I am afraid that a lot of this good work has been undone.

  16. grizebard says:

    Curiously, the Tory UK regime doesn’t see any difficulty whatever in accepting the rights of trans people from other countries which have the same or even more liberal laws than Scotland. The only difference is Scotland has currently no agency, so is uniquely vulnerable to this kind of deliberate depredation. Depredation which threatens to become more and more intrusive as London increasingly fears its dominion slipping away from it. An unstable Union now hell-bent on its own destruction.

    The conclusion is obvious, the solution simple, and becoming ever more evident to ever more people of all opinions. On both sides of the border.

    • Capella says:

      See comment from stewartb on previous thread – Kemi Badenoch intends to amend the list of countries with acceptable GRCs.

      ‘I would like to notify the House of THE PROGRESS WE ARE MAKING IN IMPLEMENTING OUR 2020 RESPONSE to the Gender Recognition Act (2004) consultation. In particular, the House will wish to be aware that I will be UPDATING THE LIST OF APPROVED OVERSEAS COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES (provided for under Section 1(1)(b) of the Gender Recognition Act) to make sure it does not compromise the integrity of the Gender Recognition Act. This follows previous periodic updates.’

      ‘The list of approved overseas countries and territories was LAST UPDATED IN 2011. A commitment was made to keeping the list under review.’

      Scotland’s future in SNP members’ hands

      • Capella says:

        Apologies for link which was meant to lead to stewartb’s comment which is the last of the btl comments.

        • Going to be interest to see the amended list, and how the governments of other countries may react if black marked like Scotland.

        • grizebard says:

          (Yes, this used to work, and was useful when it did. To co-opt an old expression, never let a useful feature go unharmed.)

          • Capella says:

            Oddly, it works if you “paste and go” into a new tab -to check that it works!- but not if embedded into a comment. Shame because stewartb posted a very informative comment.

      • Eilidh says:

        Kemi Badenoch is a right wing nut job whose family has been in Uk for but 2 generations. How she Patel and Cruella got elected as Mps let alone Cabinet Ministers is beyond me.The government in Scotland is no longer lead by Nicola Sturgeon but ruled by Governer General Jack*rse who is blatantly complicit in overriding the will of the democratically elected parliament of Scotland. I wonder what Joanna Cherry has got to say about this or is she hiding in a corner somewhere. You reap what you sow Joanna. I am a feminist but I do believe the blatantly bigoted views of a small group of ultra feminists are complicit in this mess as are the media.
        How does Kemi intend to justify the reduction of human rights of those from foreign countries who currently live in Uk whose GRCs have been recognised for years. The Tories really are fascist scum

  17. raineach says:

    As I understand it, this decision can be challenged by the SG by way of Judicial Review akin to the Prorogation case. However, the Tories propose to abolish Judicial review, and that would give them an unchallengeable veto

  18. Wumman says:

    It’s really sad to see the misogyny around this whole sorry affair. Social media is full of men telling us that they’re protecting women and girls from the bill. “Safe spaces” as a phrase is bandied about. And yet the hate for Nicola Sturgeon and other female MSPs is palpable. The hate is also for men who transition / identify as women- we hardly need to bother about women transitioning to become male as far as they are concerned! Where is the worry about men’s “safe spaces”…
    As someone has said already this legislation brings no practical change – trans people have been in their preferred changing rooms for years without any hysterical culture wars.
    If this challenge stands not only will devolution be dead in the water but the ERG lead tories will be rubbing their hands in glee as they abolish all equality based legislation across the whole UK.
    “Set a thief to catch a thief” seems to be the principle they operate by and we can’t leave this union soon enough. Gilead awaits otherwise!

  19. Robert Langlands says:

    This is definitely the Tory Westminster against Scotland. This bill received support from every single political party in the Scottish Parliament and I hope their Westminster colleagues step up to the plate.

    • Picking an SNP-Green bill to block in this way would be a really stupid move.

      Picking a cross-party one like this utterly senseless.

      Starmer in principle agreeing with the block (by not opposing it I understand) is the cherry on top.

      • grizebard says:

        Sock-puppet Sarwar standing up to his master Starmer? Piper turns on he who pays for all his tunes? A delicious (if somewhat unlikely) prospect…

      • Robert Langlands says:

        I understood Labour MSPs were following a party whip – so does this not make it official Labour Party policy? Or did head office not know what the branch office was doing?

  20. Capella says:

    While Kemi Badenoch is amending the list of countries whose GRCs are acceptable, Penny Mordaunt has written to the Church of England to ask them to repeal their ban on gay marriage.

    The 2004 GRA was developed in the HoL because the C of E refuse to allow gay marriage. The European Court of Human Rights deemed this to be a denial of the right to family life. The case was brought by an aristocrat who wanted to marry his male partner. Their Lordships decided that changing legal sex was an acceptable solution.
    (Their Lordships weren’t completely daft though. They included a clause to protect primogeniture so that girls couldn’t become boys for the purpose of inheriting the estate.)

    The then Labour Government passed the 2004 bill into law and the Scottish Labour Lib Dem coalition adopted it into Scottish law.

    If the C of E drops its ban on same sex marriage the original justification for the GRC would no longer exist. The Tories may have a plan.

    • The irony re ‘women’s rights’ of the history here is not lost on me.

      The secret court case 50 years ago that has robbed transgender people of their rights ever since

      The story of Ewan Forbes shows how trans people were able to enjoy equality – until it was quietly removed to protect male rights of succession

      Transgender man Ewan Forbes in 1952, the year of his marriage

      A narrative has developed about the position of transgender people today that has become so widely accepted as to be assumed as fact: that it is only in the past few decades that trans people have begun to enjoy any rights; that trans women have always been more prominent than trans men; and most of all, that in recent years, trans people have been seeking to gain more rights than they’ve ever had before.

      A new book, The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes by Zoe Playdon, upends all of this. The Emeritus Professor of Medical Humanities at the University of London has unearthed a legal case that 50 years ago changed everything for trans people, but which has been kept secret at the highest levels ever since.

      The purpose, it seems, of this blackout was to uphold the patriarchal structure underpinning the monarchy, aristocracy, and hereditary peerages – the right of inheritance by the firstborn son. Or, to use the formal term, male primogeniture. The effect was to remove the human rights of transgender people that had previously existed – and in silence.

  21. Dr Jim says:

    If there’s any enjoyment to be had in this latest power crazed English assault on Scotland it’s the bewildered and bemused figure of Labour’s Ian Murray, as he on the one hand is forced to maintain his charade of pretending to be a Labour MP who is really a Tory MP placed in the position of struggling to satisfy both political camps that he’s on their side, while also masquerading as the people’s champion by demanding more co-operation between the Scottish government and the English government, who he knows has no intention of co-operating with anyone when it comes to control of their territory of Scotland

    Ian Murray will have to put a tiny Saltire badge on his English union suit, that’ll surely get him off the hook and fool everybody eh, there you are Ian, solved it for you, phew! what a relief

  22. Not-My-Real-Name says:

    This action via the UK government on the devolved Scottish parliament is a template for what the Tories ASSUMED would be :

    a) A contentious issue via SOME of the public not fully understanding or relating to it.
    b)A matter that would be absolutely misrepresented to the public via their pro UK media, other sources who are against the bill and too the UK government themselves (aided by their usual helpers AGAINST Scotland as in the Labour HQ party which is currently under ‘Starmer the Weak’ ).
    c) Promoted as a battle between the Scottish government and the UK government (culpability only with the Scottish government obvs) as opposed to the reality that this was a bill with cross party support from some members of ALL parties for this bill at Holyrood and which was passed by a majority in the Scottish devolved parliament…..then the UK government decided they would seek to block it and announced it via Alister ‘ Clueless on GRR Bill’ Jack.

    A testing ground case for what is to come from them…or what THEY plan to unleash in imposing further attacks on devolution against the Scottish devolved parliament….. they are desperate to portray the Scottish government as grievance mongers while trying to portray themselves as those who come from a place that only has concerns for others …….unfortunately for the Tories they have forgotten what has unfolded with their governance pre Sunak but also WITH Sunak and it does not bode well for them as many people have suffered the consequences of their actions, inaction and disregard for all who do not donate to or support their party……the evidence for this is OUT there….

    Today Monica Lennon (but NOT Anas ‘in hiding’ Sarwar ) accused Ian Murray of being disingenuous (took her long enough to establish THAT fact) and also she said that Starmer was “ill informed” and “unhelpful”…..not great revelations really as we , on here and outwith here, were more than aware of these facts. ((Ian Murray came out of the (Tory) traps in the HOC today and called this matter ” the usual constitutional fight” however he FAILED to say WHO started the ‘fight but NOT actually a ‘fight’ more actually an ATTACK on devolution…words matter….Ian knows that hence why he chose his words ‘carefully’…. Hmm)

    The joys of UK politics….dysfunctional and unfair which pretty much sums up the UK itself as a false entity…….a disunited country OVER ruled by a government in another country whose only function seems to be to destroy lives and lord it over, steal and ignore all of those whose nationality is NOT the nationality of the country within their UK that has the LARGEST population….mind you in honesty even their fellow countrymen are getting a rough deal via them but some seem to fail to see this…..for reasons…..

    Corruption must be in the small print of the Tory manifesto as more corruption has been implemented by them than the supposed ACTUAL parts of their supposed REAL manifesto pledges……

    Their UK is NOT united it is and has been always DIVIDED and they need to take responsibility for that FACT…….they won’t though hence we here in Scotland need to start taking responsibility for our own future and stop allowing them to ruin our lives and the lives of future generations…..and also the arrogance they assume in thinking they can dictate to us what we need and want ……with them trying to take control of all powers in their Brexit UK…..same goes for Starmer’s New New Labour party who endorses all the Tories do especially as far as Scotland is concerned.

    • Aye, the Monica Lennon vs Ian Murray shows the divisions here. Welsh Labour of course back the Scottish Government and ‘north British’ Labour on this.

      Why are the Tories ‘driving a wedge between the different home nations’! 😉

      • Not-My-Real-Name says:

        Aye why indeed SS…….

        Labour , both HQ and branch office, caught in yet another Tory trap…via their OWN making…….with HQ throwing their colleagues in the branch office in Scotland under the bus….which may be where Sarwar is currently in hiding….LOL

        Have a nice evening


      • grizebard says:

        Yes, I wonder if the Tories’ real target here is Labour, caught haplessly with one foot in the boat and one still firmly on the shore…

  23. North British stairheid rammy developing.

    Scottish Labour appears to be divided on how the party will respond to the UK Government’s move to block gender reform in Scotland.

    Monica Lennon said Ian Murray’s view that the Scottish Government needed to ‘get along’ with the UK on gender reform was ‘disingenuous’

    Mibbies time fir a Broontervention?

    • Dr Jim says:

      It gets funnier, GB news accuses STV news and journalist Colin McKay of being propagandists for Nicola Sturgeon, then brings on Neil Oliver, remember him? famous for not being a historian, and he says 80% of Scotland doesn’t want this or Nicola Sturgeon, and Neily boy knows this because he talks to people
      80% eh? he must talk to all of Scotland except, well most of us

      Maybe he found this out using his free bus ticket to talk to people in Scotland

      • Not-My-Real-Name says:

        Aye Dr Jim , Dan Wooten apparently said this…..same Dan Wooten who states his show on GB News has NO SPIN and NO BIAS… reality it has NO CLUE and neither does he nor his guests….indeed it’s basis is ALL SPIN and ALL BIAS against those he hates….especially Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP…..he has admitted he’s a Tory…..shocked not shocked…..Dan ain’t THE man that’s for sure as far as seeking truth or facts is concerned…..the size of his ego matches the size of his heid (HUGE)…..inflated ego ….for reasons known only to him……the less talented people among us always seem tohave the biggest egos….for reasons….

        Neil Oliver has now been OUTED as a Looney Tune… some who apparently in the past used to ‘respect’ him…..funny how we Scots always manage to identify FIRST those individuals who are NOT to be trusted or believed and are somewhat rabid in their thoughts….LOL

        Have a nice evening Dr Jim


        • Hamish100 says:

          Do you think Oliver could get his hair cut before entering a gents toilet. He could get confused otherwise? Or, is it the other way around?

  24. Not-My-Real-Name says:

    If the Tories are so so very concerned about women’s safety can they get their Home Secretary to do something about SOME of the identified police officers in the MET who have been identified as being the REAL threat to women via their sexual assaults (rapes…and once even MURDER) on women……perhaps finding out what the selection process failed to uncover when they were appointed as Police officers…Once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence, three times is a pattern etc etc …surely…….

    Also any chance of an update on the Tory MP who was arrested at the HOC last year for sexual assault(s)…….we know the Tories have form on this (one of them as in Charlie Elphicke Tory MP was even convicted) BUT as they are presenting themselves as THE party who have concerns for women’s safety as a basis for part of their objection to the Scottish parliament GRR Bill……perhaps THEIR vetting process also needs looking at as currently, via their MP’s and other levels of politicians i.e. Councillors, it fails to ensure women’s safety……or is it because it is done ‘in house’ via local Constituency offices and thus their judgement is beyond reproach (even though evidence shows the contrary)……

    Asking for a friend who hates hypocrites…..

    • Dr Jim says:

      Over 1000 MET Police officers being investigated for sexual offences
      It appear none of those men bothered about obtaining a certificate to behave badly at whatever level, that’s around 800 more than all the trans folk in the whole of Scotland
      Maybe folk should be more afraid of just going to London, y’know the place they claim is safer because *laws*

      • Eilidh says:

        I wonder if there are more sex offenders in the Met Polis than in the area that police force serves. Disgusting amount of cover up clearly has been going on about this for years

        • It’s well established that sex offenders seek out positions that give them access to and control over the particular group of people they wish to target. The police would be an obvious career route for vulnerable women, as you’d also learn what gets you caught. If you are a female predator / paedophile, then you get a job at a juvenile detention centre:

          In juvenile corrections facilities, female staff are also a much more significant threat than male staff; more than nine in ten juveniles who reported staff sexual victimization were abused by a woman.

          Oddly, some keep calling these, prisons etc, as ‘safe spaces’, which is one of the craziest things I’ve heard in this debate. Like we send our daughters to Cornton Vale to make them safe, this being the role of prisons apparently… [loopy smiley]

  25. Colin Alexander says:

    Devolution is power retained at Westminster. Devolution’s purpose was never to give power to the sovereign people of Scotland but deny it.

    Everyone who believes Scots are sovereign in Scotland, and that that sovereignty is held in common, should be focused on creating a new political system that reflects Scotland’s constitution ideals.

    I would celebrate the death of devolution to be replaced by a system of governance where our legislators and government, even after an election, can still be held accountable to the sovereign people of Scotland but not be accountable to another country’s government, except in accordance with internationally agreed treaties.

    • grizebard says:

      This “system of governance” is called independence, tout court. Surprised you still haven’t entirely grasped that yet, judging by this your latest traverse all round the bushes trying to save a dying Union.

      (But evidently things must be looking rocky if you’re back again.)

  26. Rob Grant says:

    Can I ask any and all SNP, ALBA, GREEN, PLAID mps or their spads who may be reading this excelent post, to please consider fighting fire with fire and openly disrupt all business in Westminister? I know times have changed since Parnell adopted such a strategy but a quick check on erskine may, their fabled guidelines could provide cover for their actions going forward. London inc labour have crossed the line in my opinion and I can see NO further justification for OUR Reps to continue cooperating with London governance.

    • Dr Jim says:

      We’re not dealing with a normal Tory or even Labour government anymore, we’re dealing with a financially broken England run by fascists intent on turning the so called UK into Singapore on stilts
      Brexit was only the beginning of the process, now they must reabsorb Scotland and Wales in totality to return to the past when there was only one government voted for by the one country of England, which is now possible since they got rid of the guarantors of democracy, the EU

      The English government have now placed themselves in total dictator control over the British isles, Northern Ireland they really don’t care about and will find a way to upset them sufficiently to the point where they will exercise their legal right to have a border poll to rejoin the rest of the island of Ireland, after that the English government can wash their hands of the whole thing, leave it to the Americans and blame the Irish for the fallout

      Many people in Scotland and Wales believe their parliaments are permanent fixtures and will remain, that’s not true now and never was, the so called UK parliament can dissolve both our countries parliaments with the single stroke of a pen, they’re just doing it at a slower pace while pretending such a terrible thing could never happen, like the Sewall convention when they removed the word *normally* from the legislation of not interfering yet they constantly do, now they’re employing a section 35 that they promised would never *normally* be used

      England cannot survive without Scotland for many many reasons apart from the obvious financial one, we are a property the same as the Falklands or the Chagos islands, both places they have no legal right to occupy but like Vladimir Putin refuse to give up

      This is only the beginning

      • Rob Grant says:

        I agree totally with the points you raise, I just dont see any point in our mps continued cooperation in the business of that place. Im not advocating withdrawal I am however advocatin maximum sustained disruption to make that place unworkable. Whats the downside to that strategy. None as far as I can see, purely because they dare not render the treaty abrogated by expelling a majority of scots mps from there.

        • Colin Alexander says:

          Paul, as you believe devolution has now died following the unprecedented use of s35 of the Scotland Act, do you support proposals that the Scottish Parliament (which has an SNP / Green majority) should use its ability to amend the Scotland Act to empower MSPs to dissolve the current parliament by simple majority? A change which would enable the SNP / Greens to trigger an election this year which can then be used as the de facto referendum? What’s your thoughts on this?

  27. bringiton says:

    Another parallel between Scotland and Ukraine.
    Putin claims it is Ukraine’s fault that he was forced to invade it.
    Will the Equalities act,being used as the excuse for eradicating Scottish democracy,survive the Brexiteers’ bonfire of regulations?
    The establishment of the Queen Elizabeth fort in Edinburgh was a clear intention of direction by the Tories in a similar way to Putin’s take over of Crimea.
    Authoritarian regimes do not tolerate opposition to their rule.

  28. Ken says:

    The Tories have run out of time. Too late to block the Bill. The Scottish Gov could just pass another one, The Tories will be gone. UK/US causing more trouble in Ukraine on the Russian Borders. Johnston was at it for years. In order to line his pockets. Trump would not agree. The West money laundering through Ukraine making money killing people. The US/UK endless strife since WW2. Wasting £Trillions and ruining the world economy. Starving people. Missiles on the Russian borders for years. Trying to ruin the Russian economy.

    26million Russians died saving the West. The UK/US war machine to line politicians and Masonics pockets Even Billionaires are claiming they should be taxed. The West breaking agreements worldwide. Including the 2014 agreement for Ukrainenit to join NATO (US) and honour Russian Borders. Ukraine is round by bandits killing people. Now US fracked gas is flooding Europe. Making £Billions for the US. Along with the US/UK war machine. Once more making vast profits. For corrupt politicians and illegal £Billionaires.

    Johnston is writing a book. Enough is never enough. Evel.

    Get the nuclear out of Scotland. Dumped at Rosyth illegally. Scotland paying £Billion for Trident and Defence (attack) costs. Instead of eradicating poverty. Westminster poor, bad policies imposed upon Scotland and the rest of the world,

    • UndeadShaun says:

      “The West money laundering through Ukraine making money killing people.”

      I cant believe you said that?

      We all know the war is about Putins Empire building and not wanting a former respurce rich state to remain independent of Russia. Just like England wants to hang on to resource rich Scotland. Given half a chance they would go to using force if the rest of the world and consequences of that wasnt stoping them.

      And its the Russians, especially Wagner groups, mercenaries who are doing the killing of civilains.

      If Putin is not stopped from annexing parts of Ukraine, just like Hitler did with the Sudentenland he would expand across europe doing the same.

      We see in the UK with stripping of rights and persecution of imigrants the start of Fascism here in the UK, by right wing Tory enablers like braverman.

  29. Ken says:

    Just get the forms issued for self ID. There is nothing Westminster can do about it. Already operating in countries around the world no problems. Women are attacked and abused in their own homes. Women do not have equal rights the majority who co habit.. They do not get legal aid. Or they lose their roof over their heads. The get legal aid in England. It has just been changed. Letting agencies charge 6 months up front rent and deposit, illegally. Even if women have financial needs and good credit. A Domestic Abuse Act that cannot be dropped or appealed. The Police acting as judge and jury accusing abused women. No legal or diversity training. They accuse peoplevwith additional needs who do not have enough support. One of the highest prison populations in (UK) Europe.The GRA Bill is irrelevant by comparison. To abused women. A tiny minority self IDing. Does not cause abuse. Quite the opposite it stops abuse. Abuse of women is on a different scale.

    A storm in a tea cup. Compared to the massive abuse of women in their own home by a person that they know. With inadequate means to get away the Law needs changing to give women equal rights. The majority who co habit. The Law is trailing behind society and needs to catch up..

  30. Guybrush Threepwood says:

    I cannot be bothered with the culture wars, as both sides are as bad as each other. I resent the importation of Californian-style identity politics into Scotland. We are one of the most homogenously white countries in the world. We do not have the same ethnic diversity as modern day LA. If American “liberals” spent as much time fighting for universal healthcare and demanded the same social programmes that we enjoy here in Europe, as opposed to their obsession with gender pronouns, then their country would be a far more egalitarian society. I don’t have a dog in this fight, so I’d rather talk about the upcoming SNP Conference.

    I have genuine fears about using the next UK election as a de-facto independence referendum, as I fear it will be the YES movement’s Culloden, being the wrong battle on the wrong battlefield. No political party has ever achieved a majority of the vote since 1935 and Scotland’s message will be completely drowned out by a UK media focusing on a resurgent Labour in England. We also have the problem of not being able to rely on 16-17 year olds and EU nationals, which is political suicide. Achieving 50% + 1 of the vote share at a UK election is borderline impossible – this is a disaster waiting to happen. Nor do I support Alba’s plan to collapse the Scottish Parliament and force a vote in October 2023. I’m sure the UK Government would intervene and the optics of collapsing the Scottish Government during a cost-of-living crisis and strikes, is simply terrible.

    I would much rather see us use the next Holyrood election in 2026. Yes, it means waiting longer, but we have a far greater chance of winning a majority of the vote in a Scottish election with a franchise that favours our side.

    • UndeadShaun says:

      Danger would be, given torys rolling back of everything and the section 35 9rder, will there still be a functioning holyrood in 2026?

  31. Michael Bell says:

    No animal shall sleep in a bed WITH SHEETS.
    No animal shall drink alcohol TO EXCESS.
    No animal shall kill another animal WITHOUT CAUSE.
    The Parliament of the United Kingdom will not NORMALLY legislate with regard to devolved matters without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.
    All voluntary unions are voluntary. But some voluntary unions are more voluntary than others.

    The pigs have taken over the farm.

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