Former East Lothian candidate resigns from Lib Dems over gender recognition and opposition to Indyref2
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A former Lib Dem candidate and local party convener has quit the party over its support for the Gender Recognition Reform Bill and opposition to a second independence referendum.
Stuart Crawford, a member of the party in East Lothian for the past ten years, said the Lib Dems' backing for easier legal recognition for transgender people was "a very big mistake" and its indyref2 stance was "a denial of democracy". He has written to Scottish party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, saying he has "serious misgivings" over the direction of the party and tendering his resignation "forthwith".
Arguing in the letter it was "quite wrong" for the party to support the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, he wrote: "Far too much time and attention has been devoted by all political parties to the small but vocal and energetic transgender lobby. I understand that whilst women (adult female humans) make up 52 per cent of the general UK population, the transgender community might constitute roughly 0.3 per cent.
"Why such a tiny minority group should warrant such disproportionate attention is beyond me. I believe the party's stance here is broadly misogynistic, dangerous to women and girls' welfare and safety, and certainly at variance with the majority of the wider membership and the electorate as a whole. This has been a very big mistake."
And on indyref2 he said: “Party policy is to oppose Scottish independence and support the Union, which is fine, but I don't think we should be against a referendum being held per se, which seems to me to be undemocratic in the extreme. Far better I think to be neutral on whether a referendum should be held or not, and then campaign vigorously for the Union if that's what party policy is when the time comes. I am not the only party member who holds this view."
He also complained about "the virtually non-existent support" the local party had received from Lib Dem headquarters and the party hierarchy. Mr Crawford, a former lieutenant colonel who served in the first Gulf war, was previously an SNP candidate and the party’s defence spokesman, but left the party in 2001.
A Lib Dem spokesperson thanked Mr Crawford for his service to the party. They said: "We're sorry we're going our separate ways, but the things he has cited have been clear and robust party policy for several years and he has stood for our party in full knowledge of that. But we wish him well."
The spokesperson added Mr Cole-Hamilton had visited East Lothian and helped Mr Crawford campaign at last year's local elections, as he had around the country, securing the Lib Dems' best result in Scotland for 15 years.