Monday, 16 January 2023

Conservative and Unionist Party hoisting the union on a Trans Petard

The full name of the party that is in Government in Westminster is the Conservative and Unionist Party. However, today that took a shocking step that may well rock or even split up that union.

It is being announced that the Scottish Secretary will this evening inform the Scottish First Minister that tomorrow he will take the legal steps to invoke a Section 35 which allows Westminster to overturn a piece of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament. This is something that has never been done in the 25 years of the Socttish Parliament. 

The piece of legislation that it is seeking to overturn is the Gender Recognition Bill that was passed with an overwhelming vote of 67% of MSPs voting in favour. The breakdown by party was

  • All 4 Lib Dem MSPs in favour (100%)
  • All 7 Green MSPs in favour (100%)
  • 21 out of 22 Labour MSPs in favour (95%)
  • 54 out of 64 SNP MSPs in favour (84%)
  • 2 out of 31 Conservative MSPs in favour (6%)
So as you can see every party in Scotland bar one was overwhelmingly in favour. The fact that the Westminster Conservative Government is now going to block this going to Royal Assent is a political football being played in an increasingly right wing leaning Conservative party. The language that the party has been using on assylum seekers, Trans peoples, workers rights to strike and protest are all now looking more and more authoritarian. 

However, by invoking section 35 for the first time in history this is also piling up gunpowder under the very Union itself in a way which unlike Guy Fawkes may explode the union. It is such a minor piece of legislation in the grand scheme of things, but it opens a flood gate and leads to a slippery slope. At a time when those who want another independence referendum are already heated, the act of stopping a Scottish Act gaining Royal Assent just might push many who were agnostic to Scotland's independence into the independence camp.

The worse thing is that the Scottish Government's Gender Recognition Bill has no actual impact on UK-wide equality legislation, this was pointed out in the wording of the Bill itself. It is only impacting the right to change your gender on your birth certificate and only impacts those who wish to do so not anyone else. We in the UK do not currently* need to carry our birth certificates around with us. 

The Secretary of State of Scotland also calls for there to be more consideration of this. However, there was already 6 years of public consultion into this bill it was not rushed, what is rushed in the UK Government's response.

Yet this is the petard upon which the Westminster Government is prepared to hoist the Union.

It is laughable that the West Lothian Question which caused Tam Dalyell great ethical quandry over Scottish devolution will pale into comparison to what today has become the Westminster Question. What is a Secretary of State for Scotland opposes the will of a supermajority of the devolved Scottish Parliament.

By saying currently the more right wing, authoritarian and dare I say facist the Conservative Party are becoming me may well start to single out individuals and groups of individuals may not be far off.


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