MOST agree that the controversy around the Scottish Government’s new hate crime law is of a scale not seen before in Scottish politics.

The country is used to a bit of political argy-bargy – from the ferocious arguments around transgender law reforms to the ultimately doomed Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.

But politicians tell the Sunday National the row over the hate crime law has moved into a different league.

JK Rowling mounted a failed online campaign to get arrested for misgendering people, Elon Musk has criticised it and it’s been mocked by online shock jock Joe Rogan.

One former cabinet minister, who was around for the failures of both the Football Act and the Named Person Scheme, said the furore over the Hate Crime Act was “not good for our international reputation”.

They told the Sunday National they were concerned about the extent of the controversy around the Act.

“The magnitude of it is completely different,” said the ex-SNP minister.

“This has actually now become a worldwide issue and Scotland’s reputation is being decided by the criticism – I think a lot of it justified – on the Hate Crime Act.

“I don’t think it’s good for our international reputation, it’s not good for law-making, the reputation of the Government or the SNP.”

They called on the Government to pause the Act, subject it to a “fundamental review and take the heat out of the situation”.

Mimicking Tory culture wars? 

ONE SNP MP accused the Scottish Government of mimicking the Tories, who he said were content to stir up culture wars as a “distraction” from what they said was ministers' failure to do the day job well.

The National: Rishi Sunak

“We’ve had a few years of a Tory government that [has] primarily been distracting people from the main things that affect their lives and I just feel at the moment that the Scottish Government [is] very similar,” they said.

Growing the economy and making sure the country was ready to become independent were the “the reasons I became an MP”, they added.

“They’re not focusing on the real things that affect people in their day-to-day lives and I just wish they would get back on track to start delivering the kind of public services that we all expect them to deliver.”

READ MORE: 'Profit in paranoia': Why Elon Musk and Joe Rogan hate the Hate Crime Act

And they warned that with two elections coming up – the General Election this year and the Holyrood poll in 2026 – the Scottish Government should consider controversial rows like this a “distraction”.

Another MP said their constituents couldn't understand why the Government was spending time on what they called a “circus”.

“They don’t understand when there are so many big problems with education and health, housing and transport, homelessness – why so much energy goes into this virtue signalling,” they said.

“It’s been a complete circus this week.”

The National: Siobhian Brown

The source blamed Police Scotland and Community Safety Minister Siobhian Brown (above) – who last week said people “could be investigated” by the police for misgendering a trans person under the new law – for “misinformation” about the Act.  

“The Scottish Government campaign’s all about hurt feelings – the legislation is not about hurt feelings,” they added.

“I don’t think they can assume a lofty position and say it’s the Unionists putting out disinformation.”

'Offending people isn't a crime' 

BUT one MP supportive of the Scottish Government said people were “determined to monster” the Act, saying that freedom of speech arguments against it were “fucking nonsense”.

“I’m sick to the back teeth of people describing this legislation as something that it isn’t,” they said.

“Of course, you can offend anyone, that’s not a crime.”

The National: JK Rowling

They also hit out at Rowling (above) for her attempts to test the legislation with her posts on Twitter, saying: “You’d think a woman with that amount of money might have something better to do with her time.”

And they blasted critics on the SNP side saying they had a “death wish”.

“In the grand scheme of things, it’s hardly that major a thing,” they said.

“It’s a piece of legislation that will make it a bit harder to bully people who are different from the rest of us, it’s an act of common decency.

READ MORE: Ally McCoist 'guarantees' he will breach Hate Crime Act at Rangers vs Celtic game

“The only reason it’s a ‘distraction’ is because it’s been made a distraction by people who won’t shut up and let it be.

“Everyone in [the Scottish Parliament] apart from the Tories voted for the thing, it can’t be that bad.

“People have some sort of death wish and are determined to make this bad, they ought to get over it.”

How this entire controversy started is also the subject of dispute.

The former minister blamed “tin-eared” First Minister Humza Yousaf (below) and a team of “inexperienced” ministers.

The National: Humza Yousaf

“This is the poorest calibre Cabinet that we’ve had since devolution, without exception. It’s the truth of the matter,” they said.

“They’ve not been round the block, they don’t have the experience, they don’t have the knowledge and the institutional knowledge of knowing how not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

“Some of them, they’re ideologically committed to these causes without thinking through the political and practical consequences of what they’re proposing.”

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf hits back at Joe Rogan and Elon Musk over Hate Crime Act claims

They said that lessons should have been learned from the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act – which they admitted had been “done on the back of a fag packet” – by listening to and accepting criticism.

'We're on the back foot' 

A CRITICAL MP said the Scottish Government was less able to deflect criticism than it had been in years past, particularly around the Football Act and later the failed Named Person Scheme.

“Offensive Behaviour at Football was passed by a government that was otherwise very well-respected and was seen to be governing well,” they said.

“We’re not seen as a strong government, we’re on the back foot.”

But a supportive MP warned their SNP colleagues they were playing into the Unionists' hands.

“There’s a very well-organised group of people who want to prevent Scotland developing into an independent country and the way to do that is to make sure that they monster and weaken the SNP,” they said.