Thursday, October 27, 2022

'Kindly unresign for a minute so I can sack you'

It's disappointing that Nicola Sturgeon spurned a golden opportunity today to heal some of the rifts within the independence movement caused by the intractable gender self-ID debate. She could have reached out an olive branch in her reply to Ash Regan's resignation letter by saying "this is an issue of tremendous importance on which people of goodwill can and do disagree, I respect your honestly-held principles, and although it is regrettable that you will no longer be able to continue your good work in government, I understand why you felt resignation was an unavoidable and honourable course".  Instead she sent a passive-aggressive reply that gave every impression of a leader who was seething that she'd been denied the chance to sack someone for disloyalty.  Indeed, the intention seemed to be to get the wording as close to a sacking letter as could be justified in the circumstances.  

There's an entirely gratuitous statement of the bleedin' obvious that the only two options when a government minister intends to vote against the whip is to resign or be fired.  Well, fortunately, Nicola, the resignation happened, so the firing option was helpfully eliminated before you started writing your letter.  And then there's the utterly pointless announcement that "I accept your resignation" - yeah, I dare say the resignation would have taken effect regardless of whether you had said that or not.

The suggestion in the letter that Ms Regan had never previously raised her concerns was plainly false, because she had in fact put her name to an open letter three years ago that expressed severe misgivings.  But the question that springs to my mind is this.  If it's correct that Ms Regan didn't speak to Ms Sturgeon directly about her ongoing opposition to the reforms, couldn't that indicate that the First Minister isn't regarded as remotely approachable on the matter?  Couldn't it even point to a fear that Ms Regan would have been sacked on the spot if she had ever attempted to initiate such a conversation?

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm actually quite relieved that this issue is finally coming to a head.  Once it became clear that the SNP leadership were hellbent on passing the legislation, the outcome was always inevitable - with Labour, Green and Lib Dem support, they plainly had the parliamentary numbers.  So further delay would not have got us anywhere.  All that we who oppose the legislation could do were two things, both of which have now been done.  Firstly, we could clearly demonstrate that the claims that the public are behind gender self-ID were totally bogus - that's been done via extensive polling, including a Panelbase poll that I commissioned for Scot Goes Pop around a year ago.  And secondly, we could establish that this issue is not, as has been previously claimed, relatively uncontroversial within parliament or within the SNP.  That's now happened courtesy of the largest rebellion on the SNP benches since the party took power just over fifteen years ago.

All of which means that the people who are forcing through this legislation against the wishes of the public will now have to own it and its consequences.  The process that's unfolding is not anything like the passing of the equivalent Irish law, which was smuggled in a few years ago almost unnoticed.  In Scotland, the arguments against self-ID have been heard loudly and the majority of parliamentarians have consciously decided to ignore them.  If the claims that this law is merely a tidying-up exercise with no harmful real world consequences are borne out, the majority of MSPs will be vindicated.  But if numerous examples crop up of genuine harm, the chain of accountability will be absolutely clear.

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    Nope only kidding - many years late. Mind you Sturgeon will already have added their names to the hit list and let the dogs loose on them. What a sad state Sturgeon's nu SNP is. A once proud party of independence is now unrecognisable.

    1. Can we expect another middle of the night video on social media from our FM begging a bunch of nutters to stay in the SNP as it is not full of transphobes and she will take appropriate action to remove the transphobes. That previous video was the biggest cringe moment by an FM since the MacLeish it was a muddle not a fiddle.

  2. So what did they have to say about the SNP rebellion in the land of the doggers and the home of the numpty. Answer - nothing. The old head in the sand approach is back until the big dug writes an article to tell them what to think. Some WGD numpty will probably read this then decide to write something to try and prove me wrong. That's numpties for you.

  3. Hit the nail on the head yet again James. Ash has shown her integrity in sticking to her principles. The FM's response seems rather petty... GRA and other top-down dictates figured large in my decision not to stand again as an SNP Councillor and subsequent resignation from the party... and no, I have not rushed to the arms of Alba..

  4. The opposition parties missed a big chance to inflict a serious blow on the government. I understand Labour and the Liberals are in favour of GRA, but any rebellion from the ultra disciplined ranks of SNP MSPs is extremely rare. One on this scale (similar in size to the Tory rebellion over fracking last week in terms of the share of the parliamentary party), is basically unheard of.

    They could have done serious damage here but chose to pull their punch.