Nicola Sturgeon, Labour & Gender Identity Ideology

***Guest post by Ian McNee***

Nicola Sturgeon is not a stupid politician. Arrogant? Maybe. Another centrist oiling the wheels of capitalism (albeit with tartan stripes)?  Definitely. And while there is almost certainly some truth in her claim that holding high public office has taken its toll on her, she could see that the fallout from nailing the SNP’s colours so firmly to the pastel blue & pink mast of reactionary gender identity ideology had holed her long political career below the waterline.

The problem she faced was that if she stayed any longer, more stories were likely to break that would further discredit the SNP’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill that she was so closely identified with (no pun intended). Principal among these is the emerging scandal from the discredited and now closed Gender Identity Development Service at the Tavistock & Portman NHS Foundation Trust, as detailed by the BBC’s Hannah Barnes in The Times at the weekend:

Hannah Barnes outside the Tavistock Centre

Click here to read the Times interview with Hannah Barnes

“When describing the scale of potential medical failings, the clinicians make comparisons with the doping of East German athletes in the 1960s and 1970s and the Mid Staffs scandal of the 2000s, in which up to 1,200 patients died due to poor care. Other insiders discuss it in reference to the
Rochdale child abuse scandal, in which people’s inaction led to so many children being so grievously let down.” Watch this tragic space.

Book cover - Time to Think by Hannah Barnes

Anyone with half an ear to the ground on gender identity issues, let alone an experienced senior politician with a team of paid advisers, has known about this situation for a year or more. After the unfortunate timing (for Sturgeon) of the Scottish Prison Service decision to house a serial rapist in
Scotland’s only women’s prison, the imminent publication of Hannah Barnes book Time To Think: The Inside Story of the Collapse of the Tavistock’s Gender Service, along with her interview in The Times, must have looked to Sturgeon like a slow unstoppable train coming down the track towards her. Time to go. Get the PR people working on the hagiography of her political career, and herself out the door before her reputation is irredeemably tarnished. And given how hopeless we are at
holding neoliberal establishment politicians to account in this country she may well get away with it.

Aside from the significant victory for women’s rights (delivered by grassroots women’s organisations like For Women Scotland and Woman’s Place UK along with policy analysts Murray Blackburn Mackenzie) and unless perhaps you are a supporter of Scottish independence (I am not)
the other story here is: what will Labour’s Keir Starmer, Anas Sarwar and Mark Drakeford do now?

Like it or not they are all up to their necks in gender identity politics in similar ways to Sturgeon and all are publicly committed to gender recognition reform along the lines of the SNP’s GRR Bill. The commentariat are spinning the line that the departure of Sturgeon is a good thing for Labour and in one sense they are right but for the wrong reasons. They are after all the same set of establishment hacks regurgitating Saint Nicola’s version of her departure with only passing comment on the impact of GRR Bill debacle. So while in the short term at least it is the latter that will aid Labour in the polls, they are unable to acknowledge this because it is their policy as much as it is the SNP’s.

How this will play out in Labour in the coming months is not easy to predict. There are only a small number of prominent figures in Labour standing up for women’s rights against unrestricted gender self-declaration, and this side of a general election there is unlikely to be much incentive for the leaderships in England, Scotland & Wales to change course. Normally we could expect the left in the party to head opposition to publicly unpopular reactionary policies pushed by the likes of Starmer but what now passes for the grassroots Labour left, including the supine rump that is Momentum, has been comprehensively captured by gender identity ideology, elected officials and staff alike.

Indeed Momentum is so blinded by misogynist identity politics that it has led the witch-hunt against socialist feminists like Ann Henderson and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, in the latter case effectively enabling Starmer’s efforts to purge her from the party for daring to be a pro-Corbyn pro-Palestine Jew. And the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs have been little better. Those who don’t simply chant the post-modern mantras like “Transwomen Are Women” prefer to remain meekly silent – though in fairness, they have largely remained silent on a number of significant left issues, like NATO’s proxy war in Ukraine and the wholesale expulsion of Jewish socialists from the party, when told to “wheesht” by Starmer.

montage of firefighter, Manuel Cortez, Breakthrough Party 'equalities' statement and male and female symbos

However politicians and activists alike cannot avoid running into material reality for much longer. Just as the Tories have found that grossly further enriching the wealthy elite at the expense of working people provokes a huge wave of militant strike action, there are stories breaking regularly about the oppression and exploitation of women that will have particular impact on the left – for example the expose of how “Women working at transport union TSSA were subjected to sexual assaults, humiliation, violent and disrespectful language over many years.”

Morning Star article about sexual harassment at TSSA

Click here to read the Morning Star article about TSSA

…and revelations of institutional misogyny, racism & bullying at the London Fire Brigade…

Guardian report on misogyn, rachism and b ullying at London Fire Brigade

Click here to read the Guardian article about the London Fire Brigade

One of the main reasons for these stories breaking is that women in the workplace are refusing to stay silent or be ignored any longer, and this will inevitably have a broader political expression both in our trade unions and in the Labour Party. Indeed as the leadership of the women’s liberation campaign Woman’s Place UK are rooted in the labour movement and socialist left, they are well placed to unite women’s voices so that they can no longer be ignored by those on the left, particularly in Labour, who have sought to silence them. As I said in my previous previous on Kay’s blog, now is the time to stand alongside in support of our sisters as they raise their voices.

Click here to read A Call to Men of the Left by Ian McNee

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