The flaw in Scotland’s new transgender prison policy

Almost twelve months after rapist Isla Bryson was sent to women’s prison, the Scottish Prison Service has come up with a new transgender policy. From 26 February 2024, trans women – including male transsexuals like me – will be barred from the female estate if they had been convicted of crimes that harmed women. Quite right, but behind the headlines – ‘Trans women who hurt females to go to male prisons’, according to the BBC – the devil is in the detail. Transgender criminals, including those with a history of violence against women, will be eligible to be admitted to women’s prisons if there is ‘compelling evidence’ that they do


Watch: Scottish Lib Dem leader accused of voting from the pub

It takes a lot for the Scottish Liberal Democrats to make headlines, but party leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today gone and done it. The Lib Dem leader made a rather embarrassing gaffe when trying to vote remotely on a recent Holyrood motion, prompting calls for the politician to apologise for his ‘inappropriate’ conduct. Absent from the Chamber, Cole-Hamilton used his phone to raise a point of order, projecting his face onto the parliament screen without quite managing to keep his background discreet. MSPs were quick to spot Cole-Hamilton in the parliament’s pub Margo’s, a mere minute’s walk away from the Chamber. Calls of ‘shame!’ and ‘disgrace!’ from his eagle-eyed colleagues


Six of the worst SNP sex scandals

It seems a fresh scandal is embroiling the SNP. In recent days, reports have emerged that two of the party’s politicians were so wrapped up in an extramarital affair during Covid that they disregarded their own government’s pandemic restrictions to continue it. Matt Hancock, step aside…  The SNP has denied the rumours as ‘categorically untrue’, but reports of the illicit affair continue to dominate the news. Mr S takes a look at some of the most recent SNP sex scandals to have hit the headlines. Here are six of the worst that we can report on: 1. Love triangle A storyline fit for the movies, this scandal began with three

Why won’t the Scottish government ban XL bullies?

From 1 February 2024, it will become illegal to own an American bully XL in England and Wales if the dog isn’t registered with the UK government. Existing owners will be able to keep their XL bullies so long as they apply for an exemption — at a fee of £92.40 — this comes with conditions: owners must ensure the dogs are microchipped and kept both on a lead and muzzled at all times in public. It’s a serious move, made after a series of attacks that resulted in severe injuries and at least by our counts, at least 14 deaths. Westminster’s approach balances public safety with a humane treatment

John Ferry

Why is the SNP trying to take control of Scotland’s legal system?

There have been extraordinary goings on at Holyrood this week – and I don’t mean more iPad-on-holiday revelations or sleazy claims two SNP politicians broke lockdown rules while having an affair. I’m referring to evidence put to the Scottish parliament’s equalities, human rights and civil justice committee on the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, which aims to change the way legal services are regulated in Scotland. The profession is regulated by the Law Society of Scotland, the Faculty of Advocates and the Association of Construction Attorneys, under the general supervision of the Lord President, Scotland’s most senior judge who presides over the Court of Session. The bill would radically reform this arrangement.


Hancock takes a swipe at Sturgeon at Covid Inquiry

All great tragedies must have a villain. And who serves that role better at the Covid Inquiry than Matt Hancock? After weeks of damning testimony from his critics, the Casanova of the Commons finally began his long-awaited evidence session yesterday morning. Most of his defence has previously been set out in his much-mocked Pandemic Diaries – a work surely in breach of both good taste and the Trade Descriptions Act. But there was a moment of levity today when Hancock turned his attention to his old enemy, Nicola Sturgeon – one of the few politicians potentially more narcissistic and power-crazed than he is. ‘There were a number of moments when the first

How Alistair Darling rescued Scotland

Few modern politicians can claim to have changed their country, and fewer still can claim to have saved it. One who can is the late Alistair Darling. This is not a reference to his role as Chancellor of the Exchequer during the 2008/09 global financial crisis, but rather his role as the political leader of the Better Together campaign during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. With a relentless focus on the economic risks of independence, it was Darling, perhaps more than anyone else, who shaped the arguments that would, ultimately, keep the United Kingdom together.  Of course, Darling’s opposition to Scottish independence was multifaceted. Like all his politics, it came

Stephen Daisley

Alistair Darling only saved the country

Alistair Darling was one of the most consequential politicians of the past half-century but he had the misfortune to be a quiet, self-effacing man and so the scale of his contributions has never been recognised. He was not by nature a Westminster man, not someone who lived for briefings and gossip and the soap opera stuff. He courted journalists who had to be courted, met with City figures who had to be met, but it was never about the game for him, and not even the players, but about the results.  There was an austerity about his demeanour – to certain London commentators he was just another dour Scot –


Matheson should resign over £11k iPad bill, Scots say

More trouble for Humza Yousaf’s beleaguered Health Secretary Michael Matheson. A new poll for STV News shows 61 per cent of Scots think he should resign over the £11,000 bill in data charges racked up on his parliamentary iPad during a family holiday to Morocco.  The bill was covered by the taxpayer out of a combination of Matheson’s office expenses and the Scottish parliament’s coffers. He originally professed ignorance as to how the charges were incurred but says his teenage sons later admitted to using the taxpayer-funded data to watch football matches. The minister subsequently agreed to reimburse the parliament in full.  Yousaf’s leadership has already been overshadowed by rows (gender reform,

Stephen Daisley

Is Scotland waking up to the dire state of its NHS?

If the NHS is the closest thing we have to a religion, as Nigel Lawson reckoned, then Paul Gray is not just a blasphemer but an apostate. Professor Gray has called the NHS in Scotland ‘unsustainable’ and urged a public conversation about reform, including the use of the private sector. His intervention is significant because professor Gray was between 2013 and 2019 the chief executive of NHS Scotland. He is, to be clear, not proposing privatisation, merely urging a debate about delivery and funding. But even that is scandalous to a political establishment that prides itself on having less private sector involvement than there is south of the border. Professor


Indyref rerun as No chief takes on SNP

As the general election approaches, Scottish Labour are taking their battle positions. Douglas Alexander, former cabinet minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has been selected as the candidate for East Lothian. Kirsty McNeill, former special adviser to Brown while he was in No. 10, has been selected as the next candidate for Midlothian. But undoubtedly the pick of the battles is in East Renfrewshire where party members have selected Blair McDougall, head of the ‘Better Together’ campaign in 2014, to stand against Kirsten Oswald, the current SNP chair. Talk about a referendum rerun… The first is likely to be Scotland’s most intense skirmish in next year’s contest. Oswald is one


Yousaf’s ‘cack-handed’ council tax freeze flops

It’s another week of rancour and recrimination in the SNP’s unhappy family. Today it’s the turn of rebel backbencher Fergus Ewing. Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland this morning, the born-and-bred nationalist hit out at his own party’s ’somewhat cack-handed’ handling of their proposed council tax freeze, bemoaning how there ‘was no proper consultation with our colleagues in local government.’ Talk about cracks in the once-impregnable SNP front…  It comes three weeks before the Scottish government is due to unveil its winter budget. With money tight and the polls plummeting, Humza Yousaf’s bungling band of bureaucrats has stumbled on the answer: blame the Tories. Yousaf’s deputy Shona Robison was out on


SNP drops plans to pardon witches

Ding, dong, the bill is dead. Yes, that’s right: Holyrood’s much-trumpeted plan to pardon witches has now been dropped by the SNP, as the party desperately tries to conjure up something resembling a governing agenda. Around 4,000 Scots accused of being witches were tortured to gain their confessions and executed under the Witchcraft Act between 1563 and 1736. Legislation to pardon them was introduced last year by Natalie Don, a backbench nationalist. But her decision to join Humza Yousaf’s government leaves her bill without a sponsor. A Scottish Government spokesman told the Times drily that ‘Ministers have no plans to legislate in this area.’ Still, a solution may be offered

Alex Salmond’s revenge against the SNP is far from over 

The former First Minister, Alex Salmond, is to sue Nicola Sturgeon and her former civil servants for ‘misfeasance’. In court documents today he accuses her and her officials of having ‘conducted themselves improperly, in bad faith and beyond their powers with the intention of injuring Mr Salmond’. The surprise is that it has taken him so long.   It is nearly four years since Salmond won his judicial review against the Scottish government over its mishandling of claims of sexual misconduct. Judges in the Court of Session, Scotland’s highest civil court, ruled in January 2019 that the Scottish government’s investigation into the allegations, overseen by the then-permanent secretary, Leslie Evans, had been ‘unlawful’ and


Scottish parliament to investigate SNP health secretary

Uh oh. It’s not looking good for Scotland’s health secretary Michael Matheson. During a rather tearful speech in the Chamber last week, Matheson revealed that he had referred himself to the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body for an external review. While this temporarily halted press enquiries into the details, the referral isn’t the safety net Matheson desperately needs. For now it turns out that the SPCB wants to investigate him further. So far it’s only taken Holyrood 10 months to act… However, the watchdog won’t be looking into the porkies Matheson told the press last week — namely, denying his iPad had been used for personal activities when he knew it

Stephen Daisley

The Scottish Greens’ oil crusade is coming unstuck

‘Well, well, well,’ as the meme goes. ‘If it isn’t the consequences of my own actions.’ The news that Grangemouth, Scotland’s last oil refinery, is to close by 2025, with hundreds of jobs thought to be at risk, has elicited statements of concern from across the political spectrum. But no one is likely to improve upon that from Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay, who posted on Twitter/ X: There couldn’t be a more dazzling display of radical cluelessness. Mackay’s party, which is in government with Humza Yousaf’s SNP in Scotland, has made a crusade of harrying the oil and gas industry out of operation north of the border. Earlier this

Scottish Labour’s ceasefire dilemma

Matters of war and peace are not devolved, but they have nevertheless become the most powerful weapon in the SNP’s armoury as it seeks to fight back against a resurgent Scottish Labour party. Of course, given the nationalists’ record of misjudgement and appeasement in foreign policy, it is perhaps little surprise to see its motion to the Scottish parliament on Tuesday supporting an immediate, condition-free ceasefire. By supporting an immediate ceasefire, the SNP has put Scottish Labour – bullish after its victory in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election – and particularly its leader, in a difficult spot. There is no doubt the motion is also good domestic politics for the


SNP MP dismisses the ferries scandal

If you can’t fix a problem, pretend it never existed. That seems to be the logic of SNP MP Alyn Smith at least. Speaking at ‘The Breakup of Britain’ conference this weekend, the Stirling MP appeared to suggest to his audience that Scotland’s ferries scandal is, er, not actually a priority for the people of Scotland. Smith told the distinctly silver crowd that: I knocked the best part of 200 doors this morning. Actually talking to people out there in the real world who want some hope, who want to know that politics isn’t all about WhatsApp messages, iPads and ferries. It’s about bigger stuff than that. It’s about dealing

Why the Michael Matheson roaming scandal matters

When it comes to pomposity, nobody in Scottish politics can compete with SNP president Mike Russell. A great comic archetype in the tradition of Captain Mainwairing or Hyacinth Bucket, Russell combines a thwocking great dollop of self regard with a devastating lack of self-awareness. As such, it was hardly surprising to see Russell clamber up on his high horse when it came to the matter of an expenses claim for £11,000 of mobile data lodged by Scottish Health Secretary, Michael Matheson. Isn’t the real damage caused by dishonest politicians? After the Scottish Conservatives highlighted details of the amount run up by Matheson during a week-long family holiday in Morocco last


SNP minister squirms over £11,000 iPad bill

Another day, another tech-related scandal for the SNP. Health secretary Michael Matheson has come under fire for running up a whopping £11,000 bill on his iPad in roaming charges — and initially being prepared to let the taxpayer pick up the bill. Today he gave a lengthy speech explaining himself to the Scottish parliament. He repeatedly choked back tears as he fought to save his career… He told MSPs that ‘the simple truth’ is that his teenage sons had used his parliamentary device to stream football matches — a fact Matheson claims he was only made aware of by his wife last Thursday evening. Having to stop a number of


The SNP’s ludicrous by-election bill

Another day, another financial catastrophe for the SNP. This time it concerns the recent Rutherglen by-election, which saw the nationalists lose the Westminster seat to Labour in a humiliating defeat. But the by-election wasn’t the only embarrassing loss facing the Nats: their party bank balance took a hit too. It transpires that the SNP spent many thousands of pounds more on their campaign than their competitors. Talk about adding insult to injury… First Minister Humza Yousaf’s party spent £96,000 on their failed by-election campaign, which amounted to a staggering £14,000 more than Scottish Labour. ‘What were they spending their money on?’ laughed one Labour canvasser. ‘They were nowhere to be


Cameron dodges the question on Greensill

Well, well, well. It may have been seven years since David Cameron was last involved in frontline politics, but he’s certainly not forgotten the skill of a political interview. Quizzed this evening by BBC political editor Chris Mason, Cameron managed to, er, dodge just about every question he was asked when it came to the Greensill scandal. Two years ago, Cameron made approximately £8.2 million promoting finance business Greensill Capital, which later collapsed as criminal inquiries into its alleged fraud began. Prior to the company’s collapse, Cameron had intensively lobbied civil servants in 2020 to allow Greensill to lend up to £10 billion in emergency Covid loans. But when quizzed


Scottish nationalists hail Cameron’s return

Out with the old and in with the even older. With Lord Cameron today making his return to government as Foreign Secretary, Mr S was intrigued to glean the reaction north of the border. It mustn’t be forgotten, after all, that Cameron is the only UK Prime Minister to have allowed the Nats their hallowed independence referendum, gambling the fate of the union… As Tory politicians murmur about their, er, mixed reaction to Cameron’s return, some Scottish nationalists have been far more effusive. Speaking exclusively to Steerpike, former first minister Alex Salmond admitted that Cameron’s return to government ‘now provides an opportunity for the independence movement’. The current Alba party