The brass neck of Nicola Sturgeon

The former Scottish first minister has finally admitted that the trans debate caused her downfall.

Lauren Smith

Topics Identity Politics Politics UK

Want to read spiked ad-free? Become a spiked supporter.

Former Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has finally admitted that the trans issue was a leading cause of her downfall. But anyone expecting some contrition or self-reflection from Sturgeon will be sorely disappointed.

Speaking at the Charleston literary festival in Sussex on Sunday, she explained her decision to resign as first minister last year. ‘[I] thought that politics in Scotland, like politics everywhere right now, is pretty polarised’, she told the audience.

She says she feared that voters were forming opinions on the Scottish government’s policies based on how they felt about her as a person, rather than on the merits of the policies themselves: ‘I thought… if I take myself out of that, maybe the politics, the discourse and the debate in Scotland will be a bit more healthy… That felt true on the trans issue.’

This is the first time Sturgeon has openly acknowledged that the trans debate played a role in her decision to step down. Certainly, the final few months of her nine-year stint as first minister were marred by a series of trans-related scandals, though she did not acknowledge this in her resignation speech.

In late 2022, Sturgeon continued to champion the infamous Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill in the face of fierce public opposition. Had the bill become law, it would have introduced gender self-identification to Scotland for anyone above the age of 16. This would have seriously endangered the rights and safety of Scottish women and children. Then, shortly after the gender-recognition bill was passed in Holyrood, the tattooed face of double rapist ‘Isla Bryson’ (aka Adam Graham) was splashed across newspapers. We learnt that this violent male criminal had managed to ‘self-identify’ his way into a women’s prison. The UK government blocked the legislation on equalities grounds. A month later, Sturgeon handed in her notice.

While Sturgeon has effectively conceded that the trans debate helped to bring her down, she is clearly no less committed to gender ideology – or to demonising her critics. During her Charleston talk, she said she still believes that transwomen are women. She lamented that ‘I’ve had more abuse hurled at me over the issue of trans rights than probably any other issue I’ve discussed’. In her telling, it was the ‘despicable’ culture war over trans rights that turned the Scottish people against her – not the insanity of her proposed reforms.

Sturgeon has some serious nerve accusing others of poisoning the gender debate. She memorably dismissed concerns about her gender bill as ‘not valid’– even when objections were raised by feminists in her own party. Infamously, she smeared opponents of self-ID not only as ‘transphobic’, but also ‘deeply misogynist, often homophobic, possibly some of them racist as well’. If the debate had become too toxic and unhealthy, then Sturgeon had no one to blame but herself.

These tin-eared comments confirm that Nicola Sturgeon, even after her resignation, remains Scotland’s culture warrior-in-chief.

Lauren Smith is a staff writer at spiked.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Identity Politics Politics UK


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today