Julie Bindel Julie Bindel

It’s no surprise Mhairi Black has turned on Nicola Sturgeon

Mhairi Black and Nicola Sturgeon in happier times in 2019 (Credit: Getty images)

Mhairi Black can clearly see which way the wind is blowing. ‘I did always feel a wee bit uncomfortable,’ the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster has said of the cult of personality around former first minister Nicola Sturgeon. ‘We shouldn’t be relying on one face or one person,’ Black told Times Radio, adding that she had always ‘had issues’ with the way Sturgeon ran the party, and that she ‘didn’t miss her’.

Isn’t it funny that Black felt so uncomfortable about such things but has only spoken out now? Whatever Black thinks about Sturgeon, she was a clear supporter of her ex-boss’s deeply bonkers and unpopular legislation that could have allowed men to invade women-only spaces and be placed in the women’s prison estate, simply for deciding that they are women.

Black has raged about ‘transphobic’ individuals who dare to suggest that trans women are not, in fact, women. She has also dismissed women who disagree with her views on transgender rights as ’50-year-old Karens’ and compared feminist gender campaigners to ‘white supremacists’. Such criticism is hard to take from someone who became an MP at the age of 20 and was an undergraduate when she was first elected in 2015. Perhaps she should think twice before vilifying those of us who fought for many of the rights she enjoys, including being able to marry her female partner.

Black has raged about ‘transphobic’ individuals

Still, we won’t have to put up with Black’s utterances for long. In July, Black announced that she will stand down at the next election, describing Westminster as ‘one of the most unhealthy workplaces you could ever be in’ and ‘a toxic environment’. But Black’s own attacks on gender critical feminists like me have hardly helped to make things more amicable.

Sturgeon, whose fall from grace has been dramatic, is unlikely to be happy either about Black’s choice of words. While Black said the former SNP leader was a ‘massive asset’ and an impressive politician, her broader criticism will be hard for Sturgeon, and others in the SNP, to take. The two women posed frequently on the campaign trail together, once being pictured in Paisley playing the guitar together. Comedian Tracey Ullman was even inspired to write a sketch featuring the double act. In it, Sturgeon and Black hold JK Rowling hostage in a Scottish castle, a tartan bag over her head, with Black physically assaulting her. Will the pair’s friendship survive this latest intervention?

Black clearly thinks she is able to avoid falling into the same traps as Sturgeon, and believes she will somehow convince the world that she is made of better stuff. I’m not convinced. Black says she is ‘surrounded by arseholes’ in Westminster and can’t bear another term. Most MPs are unlikely to be too upset about Black’s departure – and nor will women like me who fall on the other side of the gender debate to her.