Home World The SNP’s response to the transgender ban is illiberal

The SNP’s response to the transgender ban is illiberal


TScottish National Party the plan for their new nation reflects the classical liberal ideal of limited government. It will include a written constitution that will enshrine fundamental rights and “bind the institutions of state”, all under the supervision of the Supreme Court of Scotland. For many Scots, it is an attractive alternative to Britain, where an arrogant government seems to do whatever it wants as long as Parliament controls it.

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Which makes for a shrill rhetorical turn ONP increasingly sharply. In November, the Supreme Court in London ruled that the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood could not unilaterally organize a second independence referendum. On January 17, Alistair Jack, the Scottish Secretary, announced the British government’s decision to block a new law passed by Holyrood in December that would make it much easier for people to change their gender legally. Mr Jack claims the Scottish bill would affect the UK-wide equality law, which is under Westminster’s remit. Whether he is right will likely also be tested in the Supreme Court.

Indignation in response. Nicola Sturgeon ONP Leader, said it was a “full frontal attack” on the Scottish Parliament and that democracy itself was at stake. Her colleagues accuse Mr. Jack of behaving like a “colonial general.” This is a risky move given that Scotland has long enjoyed autonomy in many areas. But for bodies such as the Scottish Parliament to be limited by law that can be reviewed by the courts is not an attack on democracy, but a precondition for it.

The clause Mr Jack used to stop the bill is taken from the same Scotland Act that created the Scottish Parliament, an ordinance carefully crafted by Scottish politicians and backed by Scots in a referendum more than 25 years ago. It is legitimate to argue that Scotland’s constitutional system needs to change. To claim that this is an alien imposition is absurd.

The change in rhetoric reflects the pressure Ms Sturgeon is facing due to impatience ONP members as the road to the referendum closes. She threatened to turn the next general election into a “de facto” independence vote, a legally meaningless course.

Scottish nationalists see their destiny in joining the family of modern European democracies. However, the Germans do not declare the death of democracy when their highest court overturns the decisions of the federal and state parliaments as ultra-right. If ONP politicians decry the procedural hurdles as a disruption of “the will of the Scottish people”, they resemble the English Brexiteers they hope to avoid.

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