5 Ways to Kill the Bill – GRR in Scotland

This is a short, reader-friendly summary of legal possibilities available to the women of Scotland and their allies in the UK following the passage of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament, on Thursday 22nd December 2022. For more legal details, please follow acknowledged experts such as the rebel leader Joanna Cherry KC (SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, King’s Counsel and Feminist), the Edinburgh-based policy analysis collective Murray, Blackburn & Mackenzie, and Michael Foran (Lecturer in Public Law at the University of Glasgow). In the Wimbledon of recent legal arguments, these are top umpires. I’m not even qualified to be the ball boy.

Firstly, to assume no legal knowledge at all, the GRR is a Bill that, although passed by Holyrood, has not yet received Royal Assent. No, that’s not a technicality, not in this case – more on that later. So it doesn’t come into force (it affects nothing) until the day after that happens – if it does. That means that people can’t already start acting as if the GRR is law. It’s not. At the moment it’s still a proposed law. (I’m not using legal jargon here.)

The relationship between Holyrood and Westminister is complicated. It really doesn’t matter what your opinion of that relationship is; what matters here is the legal reality. If you’re used to politicians spouting off their opinions and party policy all the time, the restrained language of cool logic of legal experts can strike you as odd. It’s also quite refreshing. Joanna Cherry is a feminist and Scottish Nationalist; Murray, Blackburn & Mackenzie are certainly feminist but I have no idea if they’re nationalist or unionist; exactly where Michael Foran stands personally in this debate I can’t tell for sure. That’s quite normal in legal circles.

Bills passed by devolved legislatures (Scottish Parliament, Welsh Senedd, Northern Irish Assembly) have to stay within the powers that they are legally allowed to exercise. This is quite normal. Holyrood can’t pass a law outlawing kangaroos in South Australia, for example. That’s literally, and clearly, none of its business. Neither could it, for the same reason but closer to home, decide that all schoolkids in Kent will get free ice-cream. However, it’s also not free to decide everything and anything in terms of Scotland. Why? It’s our parliament, our country, why can’t we do whatever we want? That’s because there isn’t a straight line of succession between the ancient Scottish Parliament, which closed in 1707, and this new one that opened in 1999. In the meantime, Holyrood went to Westminster – and only some of it made it back over the border. This brings us to the first way to kill the bill:

  • Outwith legislative competence – some matters are reserved to the Westminster parliament and Equality (most aspects) is one of them. Employment is another. (You can find the full official list of reserved and devolved matters HERE.) That’s why the recent judgment (legal spelling) of Scotland’s highest court, the Court of Session, delivered by Lady Dorrian on that matter, in the petition of For Women Scotland, is so important. What that means is that any attempt by a devolved legislature to interfere with legislation that’s the business of the UK parliament will be smacked down. This Bill could be challenged immediately, by the Lord Advocate, for example, or it might be challenged in a Scottish court. The difference between those who make laws and those who interpret them is that the latter are legal experts. I’m not being nasty. Politicians don’t tend to have legal training and even those who do may, for some reason, choose to ignore tensions between legislation and legality.

The second way may strike residents in other parts of the UK as very odd:

  • Incompatible with Convention rights – what this refers to is the peculiarly Scottish situation that, despite Brexit, Holyrood legislation still has to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This is quite similar to the more famous UDHR (Universal Declaration). So there could be a challenge under Article 9: Freedom of thought, conscience and religion; or, more imaginatively, under Article 6:

3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following
minimum rights:
(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he
understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the
accusation against him;

A woman could perhaps make the case that she doesn’t understand the language or the nature and cause of the accusation (of ‘misgendering’, for example) levelled against her. Repeating, “I don’t understand that, what does that mean?” to all occasions of the charge might be very interesting legally. And, putting the onus on the prosecution to explain, in language that she does understand, possibly an effective defence. If the Scottish Court Service is faced with the prospect of hordes of bemused women clogging up the Sheriff Courts while frantic court clerks phone round for academic doctors with a speciality in the metaphysics of transgender (I think I’m the only one, certainly in Scotland) then the pushback might be enough to find this legislation so incompatible and therefore illegal. The third way is more probable and has already been foreseen:

  • Section 35 order – this refers to the power (indeed the duty) of the Secretary of State for Scotland, according to the Scotland Act 1998, to stop the Bill being submitted for Royal Assent:

35 Power to intervene in certain cases.

(1) If a Bill contains provisions—

(b) which make modifications of the law as it applies to reserved matters and which the Secretary of State has reasonable grounds to believe would have an adverse effect on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters,

he may make an order prohibiting the Presiding Officer from submitting the Bill for Royal Assent.

Which brings us to the fourth way: King Charles could decide not to sign it. Extraordinary as that action would be, the timing is interesting. The Heir Apparent is not yet crowned and in September 2022, after the Proclamation in Edinburgh, he swore a solemn oath before the Accession Council in London to uphold certain specific religious rights:

I, Charles III, by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of my other realms and territories, King, Defender of the Faith, do faithfully promise and swear that I should inviolably maintain and preserve the settlement of the true Protestant religion as established by the laws made in Scotland in prosecution of the Claim of Right and particularly by an act intituled an act for securing the Protestant religion and Presbyterian church government and by the acts passed in the Parliament of both kingdoms for union of the two kingdoms, together with the government, worship, discipline, rights and privileges, of the Church of Scotland.

Now, unlike the Free Kirks and the Free Presbyterians, the Church of Scotland is pretty woke, in terms of homosexuality (and I’m proud to say I played a small part in that endeavour to change hearts and minds), however the extent of rage about male rapists (there isn’t any other kind in law) in the Scottish female prison estate may have caused some worthy kirk sessions to consider that ‘inclusion’ isn’t quite as fluffy bunnies as it’s chalked up to be. So there could possibly be a challenge on religious grounds: there is a specific religious duty to protect the vulnerable, and this mercy extends to those in prison, so it could be argued that this legal change by the state, that threatens incarcerated women with rape, a religious injustice that cries out to God, unsettles ‘the true Protestant religion’. That’s not legal logic; it’s the language of symbolism. Charles depends on his Scottish subjects recognising that he has fulfilled that oath. If not, he is not lawfully our monarch and may be deposed. A particularly fiery and authoritative preacher might make the point. The last way is linked: the power of the people:

  • Sovereignty of the People of Scotland – on 26th January 2012, Nicola Sturgeon MSP (then) led a debate in Holyrood on the Claim of Right with the motion:

‘That the Parliament acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and declares and pledges that in all its actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.’

If the Scottish people demonstrate, en masse (it might take a general strike of women) that in the recent actions and deliberations of the Scottish Parliament their interests have not been paramount then, by the Claim of Right that was approved by the Scottish Parliament, in the following amended form, then they may force that Parliament to think again:

The Presiding Officer: The result of the division is: For 102, Against 14, Abstentions 0.
Motion, as amended, agreed to,
That the Parliament acknowledges the sovereign right of
the Scottish people to determine the form of government
best suited to their needs and declares and pledges that in
all its actions and deliberations their interests shall be
paramount, and asserts the right of the Scottish people to
make a clear, unambiguous and decisive choice on the
future of Scotland.

Thanks to Dawn Hudson for releasing her image A Very Angry Woman into the Public Domain.

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10 Ways to Keep Warm in Winter

My brother remarked today that on his street there are houses with huge bay windows that may be double glazed but either lack curtains altogether or just never close them. He said they must be paying a fortune in heating bills. And probably walking round in tee-shirts shivering, I said. The remark made me grateful for being brought up by thrifty parents. So if you’d like some good Scots advice on warmth and economy from a previous generation, read on for ten hot tips!

  1. Dress for winter, not for the beach! Girls, thin tight leggings (rarely flattering) won’t keep you warm—thick tights or long socks under a long skirt or trousers that actually fit you with room to breath, because you need a layer of trapped air, will keep you warmer. And cover your midriff! My old Mum, a retired nurse, shakes her head at the sight of all these lurid crop tops and says “that girl will have kidney trouble later!” Guys? Same! And put on a long-sleeved shirt or blouse and a jumper over that tee!
  2. Invest in a pair of slippers. No, I don’t care if it’s not cool. It’s Baltic! Just do what you’re told!
  3. Get down to your nearest charity shop (that doesn’t support vivisection or child prostitution!!!!) and buy carpets and rugs till you cover every inch of that stripped blonde pine floor you insisted on getting cos you saw it on TV. And mats for the bathroom. Yes you do need one round the bowl. The one outside the shower you hang up to dry, by opening the bathroom window (remember to shut it before you leave the house) and closing the door!
  4. Close the doors!!!!!!!! It’s just physics. Freshen the air when you don’t need it warm (at night, when you’re in bed, asleep, not checking your phone) by opening the other doors to allow air to circulate—but otherwise keep them closed! If your living room opens onto the kitchen as well as the hall, block one of the doors with an easily portable chair on either side to discourage folk from wandering through and leaving it open. Portable because of fire. You don’t want a heavy armchair blocking an exit!
  5. Get visitors in and out of the front door (and the dog out the back) quickly! Do all your greetings and goodbyes in the hall with the door firmly closed then, after all the hugs and kisses, PUSH them out into the ice and snow—and shut that door!
  6. Hang a curtain over the front and back doors and keep it closed as much as you can. This is a Mediterranean trick to keep out the sun, because they mostly don’t heat their houses cos they don’t need to.
  7. Curtains. Thick, long (stop it!) and on every window. Close them as soon as it gets dark. That’s about 3:30pm in Scotland at the moment.
  8. Cover your head, your hands, your feet and your neck when you go out, well! Trainers are not made for snow. Neither are stilettos or even kitten heels. Get boots. A scarf or at least a neck warmer is a must, as are thick gloves, and a woolly bunnet (you might call it a “beanie” for some reason) that covers your ears for anyone without abundant locks—and even they could do with ear muffs.
  9. Turn down your heating. You’ll feel the cold less outside if you stop living like a hothouse plant.
  10. Use a small oil-filled radiator near the chair you sit on most. You don’t need the central heating blasting away all over the house when you can just heat the air in your vicinity.

Apart from all of the above, if your brain hasn’t totally shut down from hypothermia—or from the shock of seeing your energy bill—you could ask yourself why you keep voting for parties that agree with GIVING YOUR MONEY AWAY to government crony contracts; the poison industry (you might know that as Big Pharma); and a country-sized money laundromat located just to the north of the Black Sea! And then blowing up a pipeline (for political reasons) transporting cheap fuel!!!

In Freedom Alliance, we don’t agree with any of that—and we’re not alone! Check out the ADF and the (Scots) Libertarians too! So if you’re fed up with putting people in power who make you poorer, why not stop doing that and vote for the alternative?

Tan house with garage, with red roofs, green doors & 5 big windows—with no curtains!

Thanks to Karen Arnold for releasing her image House Illustration Clipart into the Public Domain.

Love & Strife: Structural Renovation of the UK Freedom Alliance Party

A striking image in Graeco-Roman myth caught my attention when writing my thesis on (Dr Robert) Pirsig, Pedagogy and the Metaphysics of Quality. It comes from the story of the arranged diplomatic marriage of the crippled patron of the forge to the voluptuous patron of love who has an affair with the patron of war. Hephaestus/ Vulcan suspects that his wife Aphrodite/ Venus of being unfaithful and constructs a net so fine to be invisible yet so strong to be unbreakable and catches her coupling with Ares/ Mars. Summoning the other denizens of Olympus, his expectation of their censure is disappointed; they laugh at the spectacle.

The net of Hephaestus and the laughter of the gods compose an ancient cosmological scenario: love and strife hopelessly entangled in public view with the powers-that-be unsurprised and amused. “As above, so below” is a famous metaphysical maxim and so this scenario may also be seen in politics. Indeed, in a recent Time for Reflection on St Cecilia’s Day, Mgr. John A. Hughes asked the Scottish Parliament to reflect on harmony and discord—and to prefer the former.

It has been my experience, joining, standing for and working with Freedom Alliance, that the vast majority of leaders, members and supporters of our own and other parties with similar aims agree with Mgr. Hughes: harmony is to be preferred over discord. However, for various motives, there are always one or two who seek to cause division and use it to augment their celebrity status.

People are human and humans are vulnerable. Having been the victim of institutional abuse for years, I can testify to how exhausting it is to continually strive to do the right thing while others are gleefully attacking you. In that intolerable situation, some may be forced out and others leave because they can take no more.

On that note, several extremely hardworking members of the executive of Freedom Alliance have just resigned from the party. Under similar pressure, I had resigned from the executive and my time away from the strife has enabled me, with others, to carry on. Although there is, perhaps, a degree of malevolence in some of the personal attacks, and certainly a touch of egotism, I believe that most of the discussion comes from a genuine concern about how best to reach the non-voting majority of the freedom movement.

The timing of this strife, with a public announcement going out on the eve of the Chester parliamentary by-election, and now these resignations a week before that in Stretford & Urmston, is challenging. Nevertheless a remnant remains and is steadfast. We are working now to put differences aside and to learn lessons—and all people of goodwill and common sense are most welcome to help us in that endeavour.

I ask all friends of freedom to desist from fanning the flames of conflict and to recall the consistent warnings of the party about the steel trap closing around us—as our children are dying of iatrogenic harms and our local authorities seek to corral us in “15 minute cities” for easier control.

As I said at the count for East Dunbartonshire in May, Freedom Alliance is a pop-up party—and we’ll be popping up again!

Freedom Alliance leaflet

Of Rats and Greater Manchester

Eric Adams, Mayor of the Big Apple, is seeking someone “somewhat bloodthirsty” to be the city’s “rat czar” (in popular parlance) according to Sky News:

The vermin have survived a multimillion-dollar effort under former mayor Bill de Blasio which introduced more rubbish pickups and better housing inspections in targeted neighbourhoods. The city also used dry ice to suffocate rats in their hiding spots. Mayor Adams, when he was borough president of Brooklyn, once demonstrated a trap which used a bucket filled with a toxic soup to drown rats lured by the scent of food.

Samuel Osborne, Friday 2 December 2022 21:36, UK

Typical resort to toxins. When Big Pharma (specialising in addictive drugs and poisons since long before WW1) runs the world, anything that pushes their profits is the default. As well as “data collection” and “trash management” the person specs include “highly motivated”, “determined to look at all solutions from various angles”, “improving operational efficiency”, “technology innovation”, and “wholesale slaughter” (all ibid).

So the Mayor wants someone who’ll really get their claws into the situation. Hmmm… 🧐

The State (not the city) of New York has 48 cat shelters, according to this website and if my arithmetic is correct they currently have 1,112 cats waiting for adoption…or death.

It seems NYC has two problems and one solution: any household or business plagued with rats should adopt a cat, ASAP!

Start spreading the news, it’s up to you New York, New York!

This side of the pond, results from the parliamentary by-election in the beautiful English city of Chester (currently suffering from raw sewage being dumped into the River Dee) show a similar lack of imagination. Seemingly unwilling to learn from decades of British bumbling—(slightly) Right, (slightly) Left, privatise, nationalise, repeat ad nauseam)—Cestrians have voted Labour, or rather, have voted against the Tories.

Each of these two parties appear principally interested in opposing the other, a project the Lib Dems enthusiastically usually join in with—seemingly having no fixed policies of their own. Yet, as well as the woker-than-thou Greens and their Scottish and Welsh supposedly separatist allies, and the various small wannabe career politician parties, there is an alternative.

Parties such as Freedom Alliance, ADF and the Libertarians don’t want to simply oppose (or become) government—they want an entirely different form of governance. Largely ignored for business as usual in Chester last Thursday, there’s another opportunity on 15th December in the Stretford and Urmston parliamentary constituency in Greater Manchester.

On both sides of the pond the question is: are you capable of thinking outside the box? If so, reject the usual poisonous approach and choose a real and wholesome alternative.

Layered images of rats in greyscale

Thanks to Linnaea Mallette for releasing her image Rats into the Public Domain.