SNP MP publicly pleads with Nicola Sturgeon to call out 'hate campaign' being waged against her

Dan Sanderson
·3-min read
Joanna Cherry made the intervention on social media - Jane Barlow/PA
Joanna Cherry made the intervention on social media - Jane Barlow/PA

A prominent SNP MP has publicly called on Nicola Sturgeon to condemn a campaign of “abuse and violent intimidation” being waged against her for speaking out on transgender rights.

Joanna Cherry, who at the weekend warned of a “cult” being built around the First Minister, said that her private calls on the SNP for support had been ignored and pleaded with the party leader to “do something or at the very least acknowledge the problem I face”.

Trans rights is one of several issues dividing the SNP, with Ms Cherry concerned about Scottish Government proposals that would make it far easier for people to legally change gender.

Those on Ms Cherry’s side of the argument are concerned that proposed changes to gender recognition laws could make women vulnerable to predatory males in women-only spaces and question whether “male-bodied individuals” should have exactly the same rights as women.

Ms Cherry, a lesbian, said as part of a “campaign of intimidation” against her she had received what police assessed as a “credible death threat” and was assigned protection. She also said she was often sent an image of a cartoon character holding a gun with the message “shut the f*** up TERF”,  and acrynym that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist”.

Writing on Twitter, Ms Cherry said: “When is someone in the leadership of my party going to call out the campaign of abuse, smears and violent intimidation against me? 

“I am pleading with our leader Nicola Sturgeon to do something or at the very least acknowledge the problem I face.

“To those who say Joanna don’t do this in the public domain I say I have repeatedly raised this with the SNP to no avail and everyone, even a middle aged lesbian, has the right to defend their good name and their personal safety.”

Ms Cherry also claimed that one of Ms Sturgeon’s employees had signed a letter defaming her and that SNP members had played a prominent role in the campaign against her. 

She dismissed claims that Alyn Smith, the SNP's Stirling MP, had been "leading work to root out online bots and trolls from the Yes movement" as "laughable".

Asked about Ms Cherry’s comments by the BBC, the First Minister said she had not read them but said she was in favour of a more civilised political debate.

She added: “I condemn abuse whether it’s to Joanna Cherry, anybody else in my party or even my political opponents.

“I think one of the real problems with the tone and tenor of our political debate right now is that it is too often polarised where we chuck grenades at each other rather than try to listen and understand each other’s positions.”