On the very fabric of the Scottish Parliament – specifically its Canongate Wall – are inscribed 26 quotes, carved into stone hewn from every corner of the country, about the sort of Scotland the building and those working inside it are supposed to stand for and aspire to.
One of them, from the celebrated author Sir Walter Scott, reads thus:
It’s a phrase that’s hard to interpret as anything but a paean to stern accountability. Should our representatives, it says, fail to live up to the standards that we expect and demand of them, they should be pelted with stones.
Now, we must assume – for this is the 21st century, and public stoning is a barbaric act limited to only a few countries – that these stones were intended by the architects to be understood as metaphorical ones, presumably in the form of harsh criticism.
It’s alarming, then, that so many of the people currently trying to get elected to that Parliament apparently instead believe that any criticism of them should be a crime.
The above tweet from Glasgow councillor Rhiannon Spear is far from unique. It’s one of many, almost all of them coming from Spear’s allies in the party’s hugely unpopular but disproportionately influential transactivist wing, bleating about about how beastly and unfair it is for anyone to challenge them on their views about anything, or seek to hold them accountable for their words and actions, or be mildly rude about them.
(Though it IS unusual in one sense – unlike the majority of her tweets, Spear hasn’t actually disabled public replies on this one.)
And Spear has said and done plenty that deserves to be challenged. She’s repeatedly referred to women fighting to protect their sex-based rights as “TERFs”, “bigots” and the rhyming-slang “Jeremy Hunts”, and accused them of purveying “oppression and hate” for making staggeringly reasonable and moderately-expressed points.
We are honestly at a loss to see where any “hate” is being expressed in the quoted paragraph of that last tweet. It is entirely reasonable to advocate for the separation of LGB rights from transgender rights. L, G and B are all sexualities, T is not – it’s either a lifestyle choice or a mental disorder (specifically gender dysphoria or autogynaephilia). T is very much the odd one out in the forced grouping.
Transgender issues were only adopted in 2015 by Stonewall – now the primary driver of transactivism – having been so actively hostile to them for the preceding 26 years of the organisation’s existence that it felt obliged to apologise for its previous stance.
Unless Spear is accusing Stonewall of having been a “hate group” from its founding in 1989 right up to 2015, then it’s clearly incredibly dishonest and quite repellent to level that accusation at anyone else who believes that the distinction between one group of people and three other groups it has nothing in common with should be restored.
But we digress.
Spear refuses point-blank to engage with any sort of debate on almost any subject. She refuses, for example, to comment on why she’s now standing for election on the Highlands & Islands list when she lives in Pollok in central Glasgow and has done for at least five years and apparently far longer.
(Three other H&I list candidates – Lorna Douglas, Math Campbell and Qasim Hanif – also live outwith the region.)
The real reason, of course, is that Glasgow region has had its top list slot reserved for a BAME candidate, and even Spear isn’t yet quite desperate enough to self-identify as black. Highlands & Islands, though, has its top slot reserved for a disabled person, and it’s widely believed Spear has self-identified as “disabled” on the grounds of dyslexia.
We say “widely believed” because Spear herself refuses to answer whether she’s registered herself as disabled for the purposes of the candidate selection and the SNP is, outrageously, refusing to give members that information before asking them to participate in the charade of a probably-illegal ballot in which the only thing that’s all but certain is that the person who gets the most votes WON’T be the winner.
Indeed, since at least one actual disabled person is known to be contesting the H&I list, Spear is absolutely 100% guaranteed NOT to be elected into top spot unless she HAS registered as disabled, and only the top spot has any realistic prospect of a seat, so if she hasn’t claimed a disability then she’s wasting her time enduring all this terrible victimisation for nothing.
And yet the mere act of asking Spear (or any of her allies in the hyper-intolerant Twitler Youth wing who are also trying to cheat their way into seats by a variety of underhand methods) to address either of these stupendously fair and reasonable questions is held by her to constitute “harassment” and “bullying”, which has left the poor delicate flower “exhausted” before the selection contest has even begun – let alone the actual Holyrood election, let alone five years as an MSP.
We hope it doesn’t come across as too macho to suggest that someone who can be so debilitated by being asked a couple of straight, simple and legitimate questions about her own actions perhaps might not be altogether cut out for the rough, stane-peebling world of Scottish politics, in which by definition, at the very BEST, around half of your constituents are going to be people bitterly opposed to your core principles (if you have any) and likely to express those views trenchantly.
Our guess is that the large bulk of voters would like their representatives to possess just a little more steel than the collection of whimpering milquetoasts the SNP is doing its level best to inveigle into Parliament by fiddling the democratic process at every step for reasons best known to itself.
Because frankly, we don’t think any of them could take a peebling.
FOOTNOTE: Wings Over Scotland prides itself on scrupulous fairness, so if Rhiannon Spear is prepared to answer either of the questions posed in this article – “why are you running for H&I when you live in central Glasgow?” and “have you declared yourself disabled for the purposes of the selection contest?” – then we will be very happy to publish her answers. But we suspect that’s an offer we won’t have to make good on.