Gender Recognition Reform Bill: Tories are picking fight with Scottish Parliament to distract from their failings – Vladimir McTavish

If we can take any message away from the last seven days, it’s “never trust a Tory”.
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Last weekend, Rishi Sunak was all smiles and handshakes when he met Nicola Sturgeon in Inverness, with both leaders talking the language of positive dialogue. A few days later, he announced that his government planned to block a law democratically passed by the Scottish Parliament. A law which had cross-party support, even from some Scottish Conservatives.

Let me state right now that I have no opinion on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill. Indeed, more than that, I don’t actually have any right to hold an opinion on the issue. I am neither a woman nor am I transgender. As a straight male, it really is none of my business. And it certainly is not the business of the UK Prime Minister to interfere.

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The PM claims that if people in Scotland are able to self-identify, then this could have serious implications for the rest of the UK. We are all familiar with the scare stories trotted out online and in the pages of rags like the Daily Express. Do these people seriously believe that coach-loads of Scottish blokes pretending to be women are going to be piling into the women’s toilets at Tebay Services? This sounds like the kind of nonsense that would even be too extreme for the Daily Mail.

Gretna is a famous example of the historic difference between the laws of England and Scotland (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Gretna is a famous example of the historic difference between the laws of England and Scotland (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Gretna is a famous example of the historic difference between the laws of England and Scotland (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Of course, as the organ grinder, Sunak didn’t block the law himself. He left that job up to his pet monkey. Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, the holder of surely the most pointless post in Cabinet, was the man tasked with blocking the law. Speaking to Parliament, he suggested that we cannot have one law for Carlisle and another for Gretna.

Really? Why is a Gretna a tourist destination? Precisely because historically there was one law for Carlisle and another for Gretna, encouraging young couples to flee over the border to get married at the blacksmith's forge?

The only surprising thing, in the week before Burns Night, was that Jack didn’t misquote some lines from “A Man’s a Man for a’ that”. But then, that would have required imagination and intellect, two qualities which he glaring lacks.

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The utterly irrelevant Jack mumbled on about the impact this could have on the membership of single-sex clubs and the UK’s equalities legislation. As if this Tory government cared one jot about equality. I reckon he probably had to look up the word “equality” in a dictionary, as it obviously plays no part in his Cabinet’s policies.

The bottom line is that this is yet another example of Westminster picking fights with other governments to detract attention away from the fact that they are doing an utterly useless job of tackling the myriad problems facing this country

I also suspect that Alister Jack is using this fuss over the gender bill as a convenient smokescreen to hide the growing scandal in which he is embroiled. Namely, the questions being raised over a £2 million government Covid grant awarded to a company he co-owns. Not to mention the rumours about former Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs. To repurpose Burns, we are truly ruled by “a parcel of rogues in a nation”.