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Why Gender Reform is Crucial to Independence

       Below is my response to Jim Taylor’s letter to the National (‘A Yes  movement code of conduct is not what we need to make progress’, 31 May).  It was published in the National on 4th June:

       I agree with Jim Taylor that the appearance of the Code of Conduct in the Progress to Yes event is a little arrogant, and given that the different parties do not have the same views on gender, it also clarified which political parties would be involved in the Yes movement and which would not, SNP/Greens in, Independence for Scotland Party and Alba out.     

            But I differ from him on his assertion that issues such as trans ‘are hardly relevant for debate during the process’. On the contrary, they are crucial to the debate for a number of reasons.

            First, it is an example of a chosen and voted-for Scottish government elevating what is not supposed to be their raison d’etre to being their most important priority, which is not a good template for a future Scottish government.  Don’t forget, the referendum bill is still not tabled, but gender reform is in the consultation phase.  If women do not fight this now, and have to wait for a new Scottish ‘administration’ (his word) we could be looking at a decade before we even revisit the question.

            It is crucial as women are looking at this and thinking the Scottish government can’t be trusted with a tea fund, never mind governing a country.

            It is crucial because women (half the population) are being told by said government that our views are ‘just not valid’, with no addressing of the specific problems we have identified.  We are just being dismissed.

            It is also a sobering thought that the only defence for the women of Scotland is the British Equality Act.  The irony is not lost.

            The attack on women, coupled with the ongoing transport debacles, the abandonment of a nationally owned energy company, the lukewarm laws surrounding Airbnb registration, the lack of rent controls with any teeth, is turning people off the idea of independence.

            The emergence of a self-appointed group ‘leading’ the Yes movement is a worry when they are obviously partisan.  They want us to be respectful, but they exclude (as far as I can see) the two new pro-indy parties.  Not so respectful or inclusive,

Julia Pannell


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