'Some daft imported ideology': Alex Salmond accuses Sturgeon of damaging Scottish independence push with trans row

7 February 2023, 08:26

Mr Salmond took aim at Ms Sturgeon over her trans stance
Mr Salmond took aim at Ms Sturgeon over her trans stance. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of throwing away years of campaigning for Scottish independence over her stance of trans laws by her predecessor Alex Salmond.

The former first minister said the furore over trans woman Isla Bryson, a rapist with male genitals who was initially sent to a women’s prison, had led to a decline in support for the cause.

Mr Salmond branded the saga as "self-indulgent nonsense", with Mrs Sturgeon engaging in "some daft ideology imported from elsewhere" that "borders on the totally absurd".

A recent YouGov poll put support for independence at 47%, down from 53%, while backing for the SNP at Westminster was on 42%.

Ms Sturgeon wants to treat the next general election as a vote on independence but Mr Salmond said she had hampered that effort with her approach to trans issues.

Speaking at an Alba party Burns supper in Dundee on Saturday – the same weekend the poll came out – Mr Salmond said: "To get to a position where you say to a majority of our people that you cannot have single-sex spaces – prized and worked and strived for – because of some daft ideology imported from elsewhere and, as we’ve seen, imperfectly understood by its proponents in Scotland, borders on the totally absurd.

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Mr Salmond took aim at his successor's approach on trans issues
Mr Salmond took aim at his successor's approach on trans issues. Picture: Alamy

"And the six per cent decline in independence vote over a month – think about that.

"Thirty years of gradually building, building, building until we get independence over 50%, and then thrown away with some self-indulgent nonsense, which even if it was right, which it isn't, would hardly be tactically the most astute manoeuvre when we're meant to be taking Scotland to its next date with destiny."

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The row over where Bryson should be held came just after MSPs passed the controversial Gender Recognition Reform bill in Scotland, which makes it easier to officially change gender.

An amendment that would restrict how easy it would be for sex offenders to change gender was narrowly voted down as supporters insisted people do not change their gender on a whim.

Nicola Sturgeon's stance on trans issues has come under fire
Nicola Sturgeon's stance on trans issues has come under fire. Picture: Alamy
Rapist Isla Bryson was initially housed in a female prison
Rapist Isla Bryson was initially housed in a female prison. Picture: Alamy

Bryson was moved to a male prison after an outcry about her being housed in a women's facility. Her estranged wife said he was "bull*******" the system.

The issue has not gone away for Ms Sturgeon, whose approach to tran issues has been both praised and criticised.

"She regards herself a woman, I regard the individual as a rapist," she said in a bid to avoid being challenged over whether she considered Bryson to be a woman.

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