Scottish ministerial nominee dropped over ‘offensive’ blog post

Gillian Martin described transgender students as ‘hairy-knuckled laydees’

June 28, 2018
Scottish parliament

The Scottish government has withdrawn the nomination of its proposed higher education minister after it emerged that she once branded transgender students as “hairy-knuckled laydees”.

Gillian Martin was selected as a junior minister on 27 June but a day later her name was removed from a list due to be considered by MSPs after details of the post – written before she entered politics – emerged.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she would not ask the Scottish parliament to approve the appointment of a higher education minister “until I have had a chance to reflect further”.

In the 2007 blog post, Ms Martin complained of “political correctness” in colleges, claiming that public relations staff “froth at the mouth with excitement if anyone in a wheelchair does anything that can be remotely described as an achievement”.

An “orphaned, single-parent, gender-confused, blind, Aboriginal, one-legged, cross-dressing, lesbian, dyslexic, ex-con, Muslim” would be the “holy grail” for colleges, said Ms Martin, a former college lecturer.

Ms Martin asked: “Are we going to see lovely photos in the foyer of hairy knuckled lipstick-wearing transitional transgender laydees being embraced by the principal of undisclosed college or visiting politicians for the press?”

In a statement, Ms Martin, who was also due to have responsibility for further education, said that she accepted Ms Sturgeon’s decision.

“In a blog I wrote 11 years ago across a range of issues I used language that was inappropriate and offensive. I reported comments from other people which have caused offence, and made statements in a way which does not represent my views then or now,” Ms Martin said.

“I deleted this blog some time ago precisely because I accepted that it contained unacceptable content – but I recognise that these posts should never have been published in the first place. That is entirely my responsibility and I am deeply sorry.”

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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