Joanna Cherry raises alarm over ‘unprecedented turmoil in SNP’ – ‘witch trials’ fears

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Following her sacking, Ms Cherry along with former Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill spoke out against the Nationalist leadership. Ms Cherry was removed from her post as the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster last week. 

The Edinburgh South West MP said: “The turmoil in the SNP is unprecedented.

“But I’m comforted by the knowledge that the party is bigger than any individual, and we are strong enough to withstand this.”

The Nationalist MP also said she was subject to an 18-month campaign of abuse due to her support for women’s sex-based rights.

Ms Cherry had previously come in for criticism over her stance on transgender issues.

She contacted police on Monday, February 1 over a “vicious threat” to her personal safety after revealing she had been “sacked” in the reshuffle.

Writing in the New Statesman, she also claimed her belief that “women are adult human females” made her unpopular with some in the SNP, and said she was being targeted by “young men (…) who seem to have a problem with middle-aged lesbians who support women’s sex-based rights”.

Ms Cherry continued: “The reasons for my sacking were not made clear but I was not surprised.

“For some time a small but vocal cohort of my SNP colleagues has engaged in performative histrionics redolent of the Salem witch trials.

“The question – do you believe or have you ever believed that women are adult human females? – is one I must answer in the affirmative, but it’s not a response that is popular with some who have the ear of the leadership.

“It’s frustrating because advocating for women’s sex-based rights under the Equality Act, expressing concerns about self-identification of gender and opposing curtailment of free speech, are not evidence of transphobia.”

On Thursday, police confirmed a 30-year-old man had been charged with a communications offence in connection with the incident.

She added: “Police Scotland came to take a statement and I filled them in on the background to these threats: an 18-month campaign of social media lies, smears and foul-mouthed abuse directed at me from a number of mainly young men within the party who seem to have a problem with middle-aged lesbians who support women’s sex-based rights.”

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Meanwhile, Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said the decision to dismiss Ms Cherry had left him “bemused”.

The East Lothian MP questioned why the party would not feature Ms Cherry when the Nationalists wanted their “best talent” in their shadow cabinet to fight the Tories at Westminster.

He added to BBC Politics Live: “Especially in an area where she has performed remarkably well both politically in the chamber and indeed in terms of the justice issue itself”.

An SNP spokesman said Joanna Cherry had been removed from her frontbench role because of “unacceptable behaviour, which did not meet the standards expected of a front bench spokesperson – not because of the views she holds.”

The SNP has been approached for further comment.

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