“This is about more than our politics and our laws. This is about who we are, how we carry ourselves.” Donald Dewar

Whatever your feelings about politicians and political parties our Scottish Parliament is elected by Proportional Representation (PR) and reflects the wishes of the voters of Scotland.

The UK Tory Government has decided to use section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 to “veto” the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill which was overwhelmingly passed by The Scottish Parliament on December 22nd 2022 (86 for, 39 against, 0 abstained, 4 no vote). This is the first time that section 35 has been used.

The Scottish Parliament is a devolved one and was first reconvened in 1999. Since then it has debated and produced many different Bills. Before these can become laws they have to be enacted – given permission by the UK Parliament and the monarch.

Section 35 in the Scotland Act will be used for the first time and its use is by the Secretary of State for Scotland , Alister Jack Tory MP for Dumfries and Galloway. He was re-elected at the 2019 General Election with 22,678 votes. Scotland as a whole has never voted for a Tory UK Government since 1955. That’s over 67 years ago.

The Tories have never liked devolution – in any part of the UK. But we are supposed to be living in a democracy and it was the overwhelming wish of the Scottish people 1. to have a Scottish Parliament and 2. not to vote for a Tory UK Government.

Using the powers of Section 35 to veto a fully debated Bill scrutinised and passed by the Scottish Parliament by a man elected by 22,678 voters, in a country that has never voted Tory since the middle of the last century has left us in no doubt that Scotland is a colony. Claims that Scotland has one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world is complete nonsense when with a stroke of his quill Alister Union Jack can simply put a stroke through any Bill he doesn’t like that our elected Scottish Parliamentarians vote for.

Section 35 can be used in two different situations, where the Scottish Secretary has “reasonable grounds to believe” that a Holyrood bill:

  • would be incompatible with the UK’s international obligations or not in the interests of national defence


  • would modify the law on reserved matters in such a way as to have an “adverse effect” on the operation of the law as it applies to reserved matters.
Section 35 of the Scotland Act

Reserved matters are policy areas – such as defence and foreign affairs – which are the responsibility of the UK Government and Parliament.

A section 35 order cannot be overturned by the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Government could amend and reintroduce the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, or it could challenge the UK Government’s section 35 order via judicial review.

Section 35 of the Scotland Act

We know that both the SNP and the Scottish Greens are appalled by this use of Section 35. But what of Labour and the LibDems, who both support the devolution of powers and the re-convening of the Scottish Parliament?

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fiona Grahame

2 replies »

  1. This is all well and good but the average person is too busy trying to get on with life today without bothering about gender reform. Those who have taken an interest in the circumstances are more than likely to believe this is more about creating a dispute with Westminster than anything else.

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