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by Staff reporter
02 May 2023
Joanna Cherry: SNP colleagues have not offered 'official' support after Edinburgh Fringe show cancelled

Joanna Cherry was re-elected to represent Edinburgh South West in 2019

Joanna Cherry: SNP colleagues have not offered 'official' support after Edinburgh Fringe show cancelled

Joanna Cherry has had no "official" support from SNP colleagues over the cancellation of her Edinburgh Fringe show, it is claimed.

The MP, a vocal opponent of the Scottish Government’s gender recognition reforms, was invited to take part in an in-conversation event at The Stand comedy club this summer, but this was then cancelled after venue staff refused to work on it.

J.K. Rowling is amongst those to offer support to the MP, calling her treatment "modern McCarthyism".

Cherry told BBC Radio Scotland that while some "political colleagues" had contacted her privately, many are unwilling to do so publicly for fear of backlash.

She said: "Nobody from my political party has been in touch officially, although I've had an absolute outpouring of messages of support from constituents and members of the public."

Private messages from colleagues, who Cherry did not name, have said "we disagree with what's happened" and include offers of "sympathy and support", Cherry said, who claims some SNP politicians are "just going along with" trans rights reforms "for a quiet life".

Other figures set to appear in the series include Anas Sarwar, Jeremy Corbyn and SNP depute Westminster leader Mhairi Black. The club is part owned by SNP MP Tommy Sheppard.

In a statement, The Stand said: "Following extensive discussions with our staff it has become clear that a number of The Stand's key operational staff, including venue management and box office personnel, are unwilling to work on this event.

"As we have previously stated, we will ensure that their views are respected. We will not compel our staff to work on this event and so have concluded that the event is unable to proceed on a properly staffed, safe and legally complaint basis.

"We advised the show producers, Fair Pley Productions, of this operational issue and they advised Joanna Cherry that it is no longer possible to host the event in our venue."

Roddy Dunlop KC, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, has suggested the move is "plainly unlawful" and leaves the venue open to a discrimination claim. 

Cherry, who opposes the self-identification system proposed under the Scottish Government's Gender Recognition Reform Bill, said she had envisaged the event as a "wide-ranging conversation" similar to another she appeared in last year, covering her career as a human rights lawyer, independence support, "views on current controversies in the SNP", the prorogation case against Boris Johnson in the Supreme Court and her "support for lesbian rights and women's rights".

She went on: "I support trans rights. I support the right of people to have equal rights with everyone else. And in fact, trans people have equal rights in the United Kingdom. Under the Equality Act, they have the same protection not to be discriminated against as you or I have on the grounds of our sex, for example, or on the grounds of my sexuality."

When asked if Black or other members of the SNP Westminster group had offered support, Cherry said, "none of the people you've named have been in contact", adding: "Tommy and I are friends, but I haven't spoken to Tommy since I got the email last Thursday cancelling."

Cherry's interview came after former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, now a member of the Scottish Government, was asked about the matter on Good Morning Scotland.

Robertson, whose constituency includes the comedy venue, said: "I'm seeing quite a lot of traffic on social media and elsewhere suggesting that this is a legal issue. I'm not qualified to pass judgment on that, and you will also expect me not to comment on something that may be subject to legal action. I'm watching very closely."

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