First published in the Times.

Caroline McAllister: SNP gender reform critic cannot stand for Holyrood

Kieran Andrews, Scottish Political EditorSaturday October 17 2020, 12.01am BST, The Times

Caroline McAllister failed internal vetting, prompting some to speculate that her hostility to the gender reforms proposed has stalled her career

The leader of an SNP faction trying to stop controversial gender reforms has been barred from standing as an MSP.Caroline McAllister, a councillor and convener of the party’s Women’s Pledge group, wanted to face Jackie Baillie, the Labour MSP, in Dumbarton at next year’s Holyrood election.However, she failed internal vetting, prompting some to speculate that her hostility to the gender reforms proposed by the party leadership has stalled her political career.Ms McAllister, deputy leader of the SNP group on West Dunbartonshire council, has been among the most vocal critics of plans to overhaul the Gender Recognition Act, which have split the party. Proposals to make it easier for trans people to legally declare their gender have been paused until after the election because of the pandemic.If successful trans people would receive a gender recognition certificate through self-declaration after six months, rather than requiring medical evidence and two years of living as that gender.Of the party’s decision to fail Ms McAllister during vetting, one SNP source said: “It looks to me like she was a scalp because she’s the convener of the Women’s Pledge.” Other party figures have disputed claims of an ulterior motive and suggested that content shared on Ms McAllister’s social media platforms had been problematic.Other candidates from the party’s so-called “awkward squad” — those who have publicly opposed party policy or criticised the leadership — have raised concerns about the length of the vetting process.The Women’s Pledge comprises more than 100 SNP members and emphasises sex-based rights over gender identity, which it says is predicated on regressive stereotypes.Teddy Hope, an SNP transgender officer, claimed in June to have been the target of abuse at a public meeting and online and that the party’s headquarters had done “nothing to address” the complaints. This was strongly disputed by the Women’s Pledge, whose members include the MP Joanna Cherry and the MSP Joan McAlpine. Both suffer routine online abuse.While the reforms are being brought forward to strengthen the rights of transgender people concerns have been raised about its impact on women’s rights.Yesterday the Court of Session allowed ForWomen.Scot, a campaign group, to pursue a judicial review against ministers over the proposals. A hearing is scheduled for January 7.Ministers including Kate Forbes, the finance secretary, Ash Denham, the community safety minister, and Ivan McKee, the trade minister, have urged Nicola Sturgeon not to rush ahead with the plans.Selections for next year’s Holyrood election are hotly contested. Three ministers — Ms Denham, Shirley-Anne Somerville, the social security secretary, and Fergus Ewing, the rural economy secretary — are facing challenges from within the party.Ms McAllister could not be reached.

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I am disgusted by this. The Vetting panel involved was chaired I believe by another Councillor who hopes to be a Holyrood Candidate. She is believed to be closely associated with the Woke element in the Party. Last week I wrote the fix was in. This is just more evidence of it. The lady pictured above is the Deputy Leader of the SNP Group On the Council. This is just like giving Jackie Baillie a get out of jail card free! Madness?

I am, as always