Tories Block GRR Bill

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, bereft of statecraft

Little Rishi Sunak’s government has blocked legislation passed by the Scottish parliament that will make Scotland the first part of the UK to introduce a self-identification system for people who want to change gender. The Scottish secretary, Alister ‘Union’ Jack, announced that he will use section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 for the first time to halt the gender recognition Bill and throw it back to the Scottish Parliament to ‘think again’. He took the advice of his government lawyers.

Our first minister had plenty of warning that the Bill would clash with the UK Equalities Act, but as with seemingly everything else, she brushed the informed advice aside, even when it came from highly qualified sources such as the EHRC chair, Kishwer Falkner, pointing out the potential conflict with the Equalities Act. Hard to name a Bill submitted under Nicola Sturgeon’s guidance that was not seriously flawed, or that caused confusion and division. Most people in an executive post would lose their job after a second disaster, but our FM soldiers on triumphant.

There is no doubt the highly contentious GRR Bill ought to have been an occasion for discussion and negotiation with the English government of Tories. Hard to swallow, I know, but Nicola Sturgeon did say she looked forward to a ‘positive relationship’ with each new Tory leader as each popped up on a regular basis. What happened to the goodwill?

The secretary of state for the renewal of the British Empire, Alister Union Jack has offered to sit down with everybody to refashion the content of the Bill to avoid the clash with the Equalities Act, but loyal to the first minister Shona Robison rejects the offer, our social justice secretary in the Scottish government who took the Bill through the Scottish Parliament. She expressed the view that the Scottish government does not accept that the Bill does impact on UK equality legislation – it even includes a clause specifically saying it has no impact on the Equality Act – and Robison added that she did not think Jack’s offer was sincere. What a fight to make for a tiny percentage of the population while our struggle for full self-governance gets trampled underfoot. The ker-ching of legal fee tills rings loud and clear – back to the usurper Supreme Court again, and massive legal costs dumped on the Scottish taxpayer.

The Tories expressed anxiety months ago, worried about the precedent it might cause under English law. That the Tory party has stepped in to stop the Bill and demand the Scottish Government reconsider the worst aspects, tells us they did this knowing Nicola Sturgeon’s pet project is intensely disliked by women in Scotland because of the human rights they are losing, wiped out by a slow-witted, callous SNP hierarchy.

The Tories spotted her weakness, the lack of electoral support, and have struck where it hurts. As a colonial power, they know how to cause division, to part Scot from Scot. Their intention is to be seen as the heroes of the hour, the reasoning intervention. And yet, the Bill surfed along on the back of the UK Parliament’s open admiration and promotion of Stonewall’s half-baked ideology.

The winners of this fiasco won’t be the Scottish Parliament, but the KCs and law staff piling up fat fees. In other words, the British establishment. The losers will be the Scottish taxpayer paying for those costs. The SNP has taken Scotland back to the courts for the third time having lost the first two cases. What confidence Sturgeon retains to make it third time lucky is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, the main nationalist party’s determination to secure Scotland self-governance is once more up for a lashing. But who knows, the go-to pollster, Sir John Curtice was unsure if the UKGov would dare make the move it has actually taken. He might have reckoned without their majority in the Commons, or he might have done his homework.

The counter-school of thought says Sturgeon is playing smart by taking the UK Parliament to court and if she wins, can then claim a referendum on independence is street legal, it also being a responsibility wholly of the Scottish Parliament. It is hard to find sound evidence to suppose that such ultra-clever political guile has a track-record. To be blunt, Sturgeon’s reputation is one of ignoring wise counsel, as she did in the Salmond case, and ploughing on regardless, propelled by her own certainties. If only Gordon Brown’s view of the most powerfully devolved parliament in the world, if not the galaxy, really had super-duper devo max powers. Instead, all Westminster has to do is chuck a lump of kryptonite at it and Holyrood is grounded, panting for breath.

The article below appeared in the press (5pm, UK time) and is republished here for the benefit of our international readers and anybody who wishes to leave a comment. The notion that those vociforious few who demanded a man can alter his sex by dint of a certificate will not understand the stress and costs of their actions, nor the national party admit it is led by donkeys.

The SNP failed to understand, from independence flows all things. a new Scotland. While still in the colonial hands of its oppressor, Holyrood legislation is for the birds. (For Maggie Chapman interview see NOTES below.)


Westminster’s decision to use the “nuclear option” of blocking the bill from going for royal assent represents a significant escalation of tensions around the changes, and will enrage supporters of the changes and nationalists. UK ministers, who met in Westminster on Monday to consider how to approach the legislation, are concerned the bill will have an “adverse impact” on UK-wide equalities law. Sources said blocking it would protect the devolution settlement and denied claims they were trying to inflame tensions as part of a culture war.

Nicola Sturgeon has said there were “no grounds” for the UK government to block the legislation, claiming that it did not affect the operation of the Equality Act. Scotland’s first minister has said her government was likely to mount a legal challenge in response, saying the use of section 35 would create a “very, very slippery slope indeed” and would embolden the UK government to do the same in other areas. After the announcement, she tweeted:

This is a full-frontal attack on our democratically elected Scottish parliament and it’s ability to make its own decisions on devolved matters. Scotgov will defend the legislation and stand up for Scotland’s parliament. If this Westminster veto succeeds, it will be first of many.”

A court battle would inevitably be presented by the SNP as Westminster denying Holyrood its democratic right to make its own laws – hot on the heels of the supreme court verdict on another referendum – and could bolster the independence cause. The Scottish secretary, who will lay the order in the Commons on Tuesday, said: “After thorough and careful consideration of all the relevant advice and the policy implications, I am concerned that this legislation would have an adverse impact on the operation of Great Britain-wide equalities legislation.

“Transgender people who are going through the process to change their legal sex deserve our respect, support and understanding. My decision today is about the legislation’s consequences for the operation of GB-wide equalities protections and other reserved matters. I have not taken this decision lightly. The bill would have a significant impact on, amongst other things, GB-wide equalities matters in Scotland, England and Wales. I have concluded, therefore, that this is the necessary and correct course of action. If the Scottish government chooses to bring an amended bill back for reconsideration in the Scottish parliament, I hope we can work together to find a constructive way forward that both respects devolution and the operation of UK parliament legislation.”

The law, first proposed by Sturgeon six years ago, was passed by the Scottish parliament by 86 votes to 39, with the overwhelming support of the SNP, Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems in December, after years of consultation and debate.During the bill process, which culminated in an unprecedented two days of late night sittings as MSPs worked cross-party to address concerns about abusive males potentially taking advantage of the new system, questions were also raised about how the new legislation would affect UK-wide equality law. This became a particular concern after a judgment from Scotland’s highest court, only a few weeks before the final vote, which ruled that – for the purposes of the 2010 Equality Act, the meaning of “sex” should include transgender women in possession of a gender recognition certificate.

The legislation would make it easier for transgender people to obtain official gender recognition certificates, including by reducing waiting times, removing the need for a medical diagnosis and bringing the minimum age down from 18 to 16.

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, said on Monday that 16-year-olds should not legally be able to change gender, putting him at odds with his party in Scotland.

Speaking to reporters earlier on Monday, Sturgeon accused Sunak’s government of “using trans people as a political weapon”. UK government sources, however, claimed that the legislation could have an adverse impact across the UK in areas like equal pay, single sex spaces and prison transfers. They believe that Sturgeon underestimated the degree of opposition to her bill. A YouGov poll for the Times after the law was passed claimed that two-thirds of Scots are opposed to its main features. Some Tories believe they can boost their vote in Scotland at the next election if they reduce politics to culture wars.

The Scottish Greens, who made gender recognition reform one of their red lines for going into partnership with the SNP government after 2021 Holyrood election, said that it was “a dark day for devolution, democracy and trans rights”. Green MSP Maggie Chapman said: “Only one month ago, MSPs voted overwhelmingly for gender recognition reform. It was a proud day for equality, and for our parliament. To see a reactionary Tory government trying to block or overturn it is nothing short of outrageous, and we will resist them every step of the way.”

Nancy Kelley, chief executive of Stonewall, said: “It is a matter of grave and profound regret that the prime minister has allowed trans people’s lives to be used as a political football. This is not governing with compassion.”


Article by Pippa Crerar and Libby Brooks, published in the UK Guardian. The Scottish-unionist press has largely reported the same things.

Interview: Here is the Green’s Maggie Chapman demonstrating how confused and inarticulate a politician should not be when faced by a well prepared inquisitor.


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17 Responses to Tories Block GRR Bill

  1. lorncal says:

    I honestly did not think they would have the balls to stand against this bilge, but I am glad that they will. Even if Sturgeon tries to make this her hill to die on, we’ll let her, and she must know it. She was warned and better warned that this stuff would prove to be utterly toxic to the Scottish public. The Greens come across as thick as a can of extra thick treacle. Maggie Chapman torn to shreds on LBC, so much so that I felt sorry for her – well, almost.

    Of course people whose paraphilia depends on gulling you into believing they knew before they could speak that they were ‘trans’ will make up all kinds of nonsense to get their own way. Middle-aged men in the throes of sexual excitement, largely encouraged by the porn industry, will say anything to be able to indulge their fetish. I really do think that nice middle-class women and girls, in particular, have been so removed from real life, that they wouldn’t be able to tell a story from reality if it came up and bit them in the bum.

    I agree with you, GB, that Sturgeon and her cabal have shown no sign of such ‘cunning plans’ in the past, and certainly none on behalf of independence, so it seems very unlikely that they believed that Westminster would do this. I thought Westminster would try to avoid the confrontation if they could, but I think they must have realised that they can’t avoid it, anyway, and will now go all out to smother the Scottish legislation at birth. I hope they will go further and amend the 2010 Equality Act to reflect biological ‘sex’ in all legal transactions, and not ‘gender identity’.

    Sturgeon will, then, be in the unenviable position of having to defend the indefensible and will have to argue that throwing all females and children in the UK under the bus for the sake of noisy autogynephiles and vicious ‘trans’ activists is a moral stand. I think it will be the hill she is going to die on, and I, for one, will not grieve for a leader who was quite prepared to sacrifice all female and children’s rights.

    We must remember, though, that her cabal and the Greens and a number of Lib Dem and Labour MSPs also voted for this stuff, and not let them off lightly. We cannot afford to be magnanimous to those who would have cheerfully sold us all down the river. I wonder how ‘trans’ ally, Helena Kennedy is getting on with the legislation on misogyny, or will that be dropped very quietly now? Probably, since it was never intended that it should see the light of day.

  2. Alastair says:

    Let’s hope this is Sturgeons downfall we need a purge and have a cleansing of the SNP. I hope that the party is not past redemption but I do have that fear. All the clique must go without exception. I would make anyone left sware an oath to Scotland and to strive for independence any who want more devolution should be shown the door.
    Dissolve the Union

  3. Grouse Beater says:

    ‘Cunning plans’ had me chuckling. Yes, we are back to, don’t criticise our first minister, she has a Plan B up her sleeve. 🙂

  4. duncanio says:

    I note the stark contrast between the genuine visceral reaction by Sturgeon, Robertson, Flynn and other FM acolytes to the British Government GRR ‘override’ and the lukewarm faux outrage expressed by the same at the denial of Scottish self-determination by the UK Supreme Court.

    It would not surprise me in the least if the non-urgent ‘Special Emergency Democracy Conference’, scheduled 88 days after the UKSC ruling on 23rd November, is brought forward from the 19th March with the agenda amended to include the GRR legislation in the agenda … and at the top.

  5. lorncal says:

    Spot on, duncanio. Precisely the same thing struck me. They’ll kick the can down the road, and use whatever means to do it. If their outrage over the Westminster S35 intervention was genuine (I don’t believe it was) then we are saddled with the least sentient crop of bunglers ever to demean the office of politician in Scotland. I think it just dawned on them what a mess they have made and they are expressing, like all politicians these days do when caught with their pants down, genuine outrage that they didn’t see it coming, not regret, I suspect. Their anger is reserved for those who told them this would happen and to whom they didn’t listen because they see the writing on the wall for their careers. They are going to find out at first hand, too, just how many people in Scotland are utterly opposed to this stuff – which they were also told. They will bitterly regret the day they threw in the towel on independence in favour of deviance. Dying on the hill of paraphilia just does not have the same ring as dying on the hill of independence for your country. No more heroes any more.

  6. duncanio says:


    The supporters of this crazy, nasty and file stuff seem to be stuck in the early stages of grief, oscillating mainly between denial and anger.

    I have lost count of the number of times I have corrected people in The National comments section about how unpopular the GRR stuff really is when answers are obtained to straight and honest questions on this subject from ordinary folk.

    When I have corrected their fact starved assertions by quoted sources like Panelbase together with links to survey results showing for example, that two-thirds of folk think that the GRR bill pose a safety risk to women the response is invariably either ‘the polls are biased’, ‘they are commissioned by right-wing reactionaries’, ‘the only poll that matters are elections’ or some such. Denial.

    When I’ve followed up with some more survey findings such as and that 20% of people are in favour of self-id the standard raging reply is one of either ‘transphobe!’ or ‘bigot!!’ or ‘transphobic bigot!!!’ baseless accusations. Anger.

    As for Sturgeon and her allies they may well ascend to the bargaining stage … the one where they trade the pursuit of Independence for the British Royal Ascent of the GRR legislation.

  7. Stuart MacKay says:

    So the wee, pretendy parliament got a spanking and put in it’s place.

    As for the cunning plan to show Scots how democracy is being denied. What a joke. Everyone just gave out a huge sigh of relief that the players in the Scottish Amateur Dramatics & Student Politics Society got an overdue lesson in the reality of their remit. As for Sturgeon? Very much a diminished figure now. This wasn’t the hill she will die on. She couldn’t even climb it. As of today, anything that comes out of Holyrood can be waved away with a dismissive hand and a chuckle. What started out as a bit of a joke turned into a strategic defeat. Nice one, morons.

    duncanio is right. There will be a slight change in the agenda of the Special Emergency Democracy Conference’. The buffoons will dust themselves off and continue right where they left off. Divorced from reality doesn’t begin to describe it.

  8. lorncal says:

    duncanio: I think I am beyond being appalled at the gullibility of the Sturgeon supporters now. They would bring out their first-born for slaughter if yet another carroty proposal on independence were to be offered them by this cabal. They are as steeped in cultish belief as the ‘trans’. The great figures of Enlightenment Scotland must be birlin in their graves.

    Stuart: yes, this is not going to go well for them. The Greens are now a liability, too, with their quite deranged proposals for ‘transitioning’ infants. The only ‘legal’ advice they listened to was that of Scottish Stonewall, which is neither legal nor advice: a list of petulant and moronic demands from infants whose grasp of reality is tenuous at best. They have no concept of anyone else. They are the centre of the universe and the sun revolves around them.

  9. tawley says:

    That’s a relief! I never thought I would agree with the U.K. telling Scotland what to do but in theses circumstances I am relieved for the children and for women!

  10. sadscot says:

    Maggie Chapman’s LBC interview has certainly caught the eye of the English media, that’s for sure. Sadly, the Herald has still not seen fit to cover exactly what she said. Nor has BBC Scotland or STV! Interesting given the astounding statements made therein about extending these “rights” to children under 16. Maybe we should thank Chapman that her motor mouth ran away with her again as I’m certain she will have caused a lot of damage.
    It was notable listening to SNP MPs yesterday that they kept stressing that this bill had the support of all Parties in the Scottish Parliament and did not, as usual, claim it was the “will of the people of Scotland”. For, as they knew perfectly well, it isn’t! They knew the level of opposition and how it was treated, ie, with absolute contempt.
    It was interesting today to hear the SNP’s new leader at Westminster declaring that this was a step towards “direct rule”. For me, such inflammatory language proved beyond all doubt, the plan to use this issue for the SNP’s own ends. The problem is, I can see it backfiring badly on them. I can also see this whole thing actually creating transphobia!
    Like others here I couldn’t quite get my head around the fact that I was agreeing with Alastair Jack. It’ll take a while! I also found myself nodding when Douglas Ross tried reminding SNP MPs that he had at least allowed a free vote while all other Parties had whipped their people into backing the bill. Well, it’s true! I’m still not comfortable that I was agreeing with him. Good God, what has Sturgeon done that I’m nodding my head when Tories are speaking?

  11. sadscot says:

    The attack dogs are roaming the Herald site too abusing anyone with a different view. It has been appalling in recent days. It was a sad day indeed when the Herald abandoned all attempts to moderate content. It’s an ugly place now.

  12. lorncal says:

    sadscot: the implications of this having been a ‘cunning plan’ are so awful, Sturgeon should be bodily removed from Bute House. I may well be very wrong, but I don’t believe even she would be that stupid. If the sacrifice of women and children were the price worth paying for a confrontation with Westminster, she is even more contemptible. I think it might well be an opportunity seized by a party that is beyond the pale now, but it won’t wash because too many are opposed to it. For independista women, this issue has been doubly divisive. I think they are desperately trying to claw back some credibility, but it is gone.

  13. alfbaird says:

    Yes Lorna, the problem may be much as Cesaire described, one of: “bourgeois rule and the colonial problem…that increasingly takes refuge in a hypocrisy which is all the more odious because it is less and less likely to deceive”.

    GRR is a heck of another needless diversion from the main goal, which further proves ‘the leader has no merit’. Its nae wunner we are nowhere near liberation with these ‘nationalist’ imposters. The SNP/Green eejits turn out to be even more totalitarian than Tories, much as Jack’s remedial action demonstrates.

    Postcolonial theory warns us that a colonial regime which acts to delay or prevent independence and permits colonial capital to continue its plunder is condemned to become ‘an instrument of coercion’. And as we see, it makes itself look busy by introducing ‘mystifying’ laws which only further oppress the people. As Albert Memmi wrote: “What is fascism, if not a regime of oppression for the benefit of a few. The entire administrative and political machinery of a colony has no other goal”

    Scots folk would be less oppressed with ‘direct rule’, instead of what we see, i.e. Lord Lugard’s ‘indirect rule’, for at least then we would be without the Manichaeism of a compromised national party and bourgeoisie aye protecting their own interest and that of the colonizer, whilst the people are deceived to believe otherwise. The reality is that every MP in Westminster, and every MSP in Holyrood, is our oppressor, and ‘by their actions ye shall know them’.

  14. sadscot says:

    I am so disorientated by events over recent years, when it comes to Sturgeon, that I really don’t know what to think. Mostly, I’m concerned that no one within the Party seems concerned about the damage she is doing to the Party or moving to force her to stand down.
    I’m certain the trans business will have cost the SNP votes, she certainly lost mine. I’m also shocked that this “defacto referendum” thing isn’t being challenged because, with the many crises she is presiding over at the moment, could many Scots just decide they’ve had enough and vote the whole lot of them out or a significant number? I think the risk factor here is high indeed. I’m also intrigued that Flynn started off opposing that plan yet on the Sunday Show he was backing it. (I wonder how that came about?) The “options”, to use a GE or a Scottish election are hardly attractive. Why isn’t there a, “You really need to rethink this Nicola!” option?

  15. sadscot says:

    “Very much a diminished figure now.”
    She certainly is in my mind, Stuart, but in the Party, why are people allowing her to drag them all over the place while so many emergencies need addressing on the domestic front? How can she even have the arrogance to believe she can smash a GE with the current state of affairs? I honestly don’t believe Scots care for that sort of complacency, even if the thought of Labour making a huge comeback in Scotland horrifies me. Scots don’t like complacency in political Parties. What they did to Labour they could easily do to the SNP. Where will we be then? What good SNP policies embraced across the board in Scotland will be swept away because Sturgeon stopped paying attention to her real job? (I’m not playing down the importance of independence but domestic performance MUST be seen as important too. She seems not to care.)

  16. Howard Cairns says:

    I will be glad to see the GRR bill disappear to a later date. It needs a lot more discussion and I suggest a referendum on the bill before it is considered for passing anyway. Let’s see if all Scots or a majority support the idea.

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