By Lucy Ashton
Anas Sarwar has today been urged to perform a U-turn – like his UK leader Keir Starmer – and accept he was wrong to force Scottish Labour MSPs to back Nicola Sturgeon’s “reckless” gender self-ID bill.
The Scottish Conservatives have written to Labour’s Holyrood leader asking him to clarify whether his party still backs the Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill, which poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of Scots oppose.
Shadow equalities spokesperson Rachael Hamilton’s letter comes as First Minister Humza Yousaf prepares to launch a legal challenge against the Scottish Secretary’s decision to veto the legislation because it impacts on equalities law in the rest of the UK.
MSPs Rachael Hamilton and Carol Mochan – questions about gender bill. Top of page is Labour leader Anas Sarwar.
He insists the public deserve clarity from Scottish Labour over whether they support the SNP leader’s “self-serving” bid to block the Section 35 Order, and whether Anas Sarwar will again whip his MSPs to support the Bill should it come back before the Scottish Parliament.
The position is further clouded by Carol Mochan – who quit the front bench to defy the party whip on GRR in December – returning to Scottish Labour’s shadow ministerial line-up this week.
Rachael Hamilton has also asked whether Anas Sarwar now agrees with Keir Starmer that 16 is too young for vulnerable Scottish adolescents to be allowed to change their gender.
Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “With Humza Yousaf seeking a self-serving confrontation with the UK government in an effort to divert attention from the SNP civil war, the public deserve to know where Scottish Labour stand on this issue.
“Anas Sarwar shamefully ignored the legitimate concerns of women’s groups, many Labour members and the vast majority of Scots by forcing his MSPs to back Nicola Sturgeon’s reckless GRR Bill.
“Whether it was a response to the public backlash in Scotland to the passing of the Bill, or the inherent flaws in it exposed by the Isla Bryson scandal, Keir Starmer belatedly recognised that Labour were on the wrong side of the argument.
“It’s time for Anas Sarwar to do the same – and admit that he was wrong to ignore the safety fears of women by whipping Scottish Labour MSPs to vote for this deeply flawed Bill.
“The public deserve to know whether he now accepts that 16 is too young for vulnerable adolescents to be able to make such an enormous, life-changing decision.
“Where does he stand on Humza Yousaf’s weak and transparent attempt to create a constitutional row with the UK government to try to rally feuding factions within the SNP?
“And if the Bill comes back before Holyrood, will he do what he ought to have done last time, and offer his MSPs a free vote? If not, presumably Carol Mochan – who returned to his front bench this week – would have to resign a second time.
“We know Anas Sarwar would rather not discuss this issue, but the confused public deserve to know where Scottish Labour stands.”