FOR more than four decades, Dr Jane Nelsen’s textbook, Positive Discipline, has been a gold-standard reference for adults who work with children. 

Now in its 7th edition, the distinguished psychologist’s work has guided thousands of practitioners who work with children across multiple disciplines.

One issue she tackles is logical versus natural consequences. In summary, a logical consequence is based on the principle, “if you do that, then I will do x”, with x often being some form of punishment. Whereas a natural consequence is directly linked to the behaviour: when you stand in the rain, you get wet; when you touch a flame, you get burned, etc. According to Dr Nelson, for a consequence to have meaning for the child, adults shouldn’t piggyback blame, shame or pain on to the experience, but help the child process the link between their behaviour and the consequence. So, when a child says “La, la, la, I’m not listening” and they get wet, burned or suffer some other natural consequence, that is where the learning exists.

But what do you do when a fully cooked adult, in a position of responsibility and authority, adopts “La, la, la, I’m not listening” mode on an important matter? What are the natural consequences, and how can they be balanced and addressed?

Originally developed by the courts of equity to control the decisions of inferior courts, the rule of fair play has gradually been extended to any authority exercising an administrative power that affects a person’s status, rights or liabilities.

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According to Law and Martin’s Dictionary of Law, “any decision reached in contravention of natural justice is void as ultra vires [beyond the powers]”. They describe in detail two principal rules. The first is the rule against bias; no-one may be a judge in their own cause for reasons that may affect or reflect on their impartiality. Such decisions are considered invalid. The second rule is audi alteram partem (hear the other side) which states that “a decision cannot stand unless the person directly affected by it has been provided with a fair opportunity to state [their] case and to know and answer the other side’s case”. These rules of natural justice exist to provide a minimum standard of procedural fairness, but how they are applied is understandably context-dependent.

And this raises serious concerns about the way the Scottish Government has conducted itself with regards to its roster of policies based on Queer Theory.

The defeat of Nicola Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform (GRR) Bill with a section 35 order was arguably a natural consequence of the former first minister’s “La, la, la, I’m not listening” stance towards those of us who tried to point out the flaws and dangers of the failed legislation. The defeat was entirely predictable, and I suggest a similar fate awaits the conversion therapy legislation as currently proposed. I’m not alone in my thinking.

In a written opinion for the Christian Institute, double-silk Aidan O’Neill KC said that the proposed legislation is [yet again] outwith the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. He has called the proposals “fundamentally illiberal” and “beyond the powers of the Scottish Parliament”.

The clearly biased Scottish Government “Expert Advisory Group” is advocating for a wholesale redefinition of the harm principle where it will be illegal to say the “wrong thing” even if it inflicts no perceivable harm. While simultaneously it seeks to inflict the most totalitarian Queer Theory doctrine in the world on Scotland.

I’ve written to the First Minister several times detailing my many concerns. I wrote to him in October of last year suggesting he abandon the ill-fated Section 35 GRR bill appeal and called on him to secure the resignation of Deputy First Minister Shona Robison MSP following her ill-judged comments minimising the risk posed to women and girls.

I again wrote to the First Minister on January 8 this year detailing my concerns about the deeply flawed conversion therapy proposals.

Neither of my letters received an acknowledgement or response from the First Minister’s office, instead they were passed to the cabinet secretary and minister for the related portfolios. To be fair to the First Minister, I accept that convention dictates that matters that can be answered by the portfolio holders should be passed to them, but my letters raised many points where the responsibility rests with a First Minister alone.

In any event, the inadequacy of the responses from Ms Somerville and Ms Roddick, even within the scope of their responsibilities, was astonishing. They avoided almost every issue, choosing to regurgitate the same discredited gender ideology talking points. Undaunted, I wrote again to the First Minister at the end of January challenging him to respond personally. He did respond, but all he did was illustrate his fundamental lack of understanding of the issues at play and sent me links to the gender-ideology-based documents his government has thrown all its weight behind. He may as well have written: “Dear Neale, la, la, la, I’m not listening.”

The National: Humza Yousaf has a bit more time to change course, but the same principle applies

The First Minister has made it clear; he is not for listening. He cares not a jot about the impact these policies have on women, young LGB people being encouraged to believe they were born in the wrong body, religious leaders and congregations, parents who know their children better than any politician and the fundamental human rights that the people of Scotland expect him to observe and uphold.

Despite his decision to persist, in his recent letter he admits that the bill is likely to trigger another Section 35 order. Yet he boasts that he is once again willing to throw ever more public money away defending the indefensible. I assume this is in the hope that an incoming UK Labour government will share his enthusiasm to criminalise freedom of speech and religious and philosophical belief all the while trashing the sex-based protections of women and LGB people and fundamental human rights.

A consultation in name only is worthless and the evidence of apparent bias is off the charts. After eight years of “La, la, la, I’m not listening” from two first ministers, it’s abundantly clear that those of us who refuse to submit to Queer Theory have been repeatedly denied any facility to state our case, and that should worry everyone.