SNP MP Joanna Cherry says she would never have got involved in frontline politics if she knew of the “abuse and threats” she would receive from her own party colleagues.
Ms Cherry described the Scottish National Party as being in “unprecedented turmoil” after an internal row regarding trans rights.
The argument led to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon releasing a video on social media, condemning the accusations of transphobia in the SNP.
Ms Sturgeon vowed to treat transphobia with “zero tolerance”. Just five days after the video was released, Ms Cherry lost her role as justice and home affairs spokesperson for the SNP.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) January 27, 2021
Now Ms Cherry says she faced an “18-month campaign of social media lies, smears and foul-mouthed abuse” as well as a “threat of rape”.
Writing in the New Statesman, the MP for Edinburgh South West said, “That night I received a series of sinister and threatening messages on my phone, culminating in a threat of rape. I informed the police and decided to stay away from my home.
“The next day I learned that the man charged with threatening me is a member of the SNP,” 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.”
Fighting for women’s rights
Ms Cherry has spent large parts of her career fighting for equality with various feminist groups and said her only “crime” had been defending women’s rights.
She has also fought for lesbian rights throughout her career, although is now claiming they are an “afterthought”.
Ms Cherry said: “It’s LGBT+ history month but these days the L is very much an afterthought and many people have forgotten the contribution made by lesbian feminists of my generation to fighting homophobia and discrimination.
“A large part of my career as a lawyer was spent standing up for women’s rights and prosecuting sex crimes against women and children. So it is particularly galling to be misrepresented by those who have come late to the field of the battle for equality.”
‘Not surprised’ by her sacking
The former front-bench MP said she was “not surprised” by her sacking, although was grateful that she was given a forewarning.
“I don’t imagine any politician much enjoys being sacked from the front bench but it pays to be forewarned, and fortunately I was,” Ms Cherry said.
“So when I took a terse call from my group leader a mere 30 minutes before he intended to announce his reshuffle it was not the nasty surprise that was presumably planned.
“The reasons for my sacking were not made clear but I was not surprised”.
‘We are strong enough to withstand this”
Ms Cherry claimed the SNP is in “unprecedented turmoil”, although she says the party will get through it.
“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,” she said.
“Besides, support for independence has consistently been above 50 per cent in the past 20 polls and the independence movement is broader than the SNP.”
The SNP was approached for a comment.