Illustrations by Hannah Robinson
It has, in the past, appeared impossible to wean the Scottish people off the SNP. Regardless of how many police stations collapse, how low literacy rates fall, regardless of how high drug deaths rise and regardless of how much money was spent; it always became apparent that the SNP would once again top a poll or win an election.
However, the recent handling of COVID in Scotland just might be the straw that broke the camel’s back. At first, people were content enough with the lockdown. They expected it to last a short period of time and have very little impact on their lives. There was a palpable sense of British blitz spirit. However, as weeks turned into months and a recession developed, the politicians in power came under fire. This time Nicola, who does not usually fall prey to foul treatment in the media, was included.
For once Nicola was forced to reveal to every person in Scotland how much power she actually has over the politics of the nation. She must now no longer blame Westminster and must rely on her ill-equipped, internally divided and ideologically irrational party for support. Nicola has attempted to diverge from the UK government in a manner so predictable that it is hard to regard it as anything but a political game. At first, this worked for her. he was seen by many on the left to represent a sensible alternative to Boris Johnson’s government’s incompetence. Now she finds herself under equal fire. For example, recent decisions relating to the sale of alcohol have cause pub goers and those in the hospitality industry to revolt – some even protesting in the streets. This decision to close bars after a set time is based on no science as infectivity does not vary by the hour. Nicola has failed to explain or justify this assault on millions of jobs in Scotland and the shutdown of key industries. The same hardline approach has been taken on gyms and fitness centres which, with appropriate support, could effectively implement social distancing. Once again, the science simply is not available to back up these policies. Cases are admittedly on the rise but deaths and hospitalizations are not following suit. Furthermore, as has been done in Wales to justify their ban on “unnecessary items in supermarkets”, a broad promise that science is being followed is given but the British public never get to see the government’s work.
Even when it comes to the issue of cases the Telegraph reported that there would be an estimated 40,800 new cases each day by mid-October yet only 12,872 have materialized. It should also be noted that young people are less susceptible to the virus and so should be treated differently by government guidance if we are to have hope of at least partially revitalising the economy. However, the SNP instead decided to imprison students in their halls which has raised a great deal of anger amongst a group Nicola used to have on her side.
A better approach would be the one set out by Michael Portillo on Question Time, whereby the vulnerable are protected and shielded while the young who are unlikely to show symptoms are kept separate and allowed to continue working, socialising and spending. Furthemore as noted by Sir Desmond Swayne MP any reliance on a vaccine is reliant on herd immunity which many scientists are now backing as an alternative. It is important to note that the UK government is taking similar measures to the SNP administration. However, even if Boris is making the same mistakes as Nicola, the people of Scotland know who is to blame for their personalised brand of COVID misery and this just might show in the polls. At every twist and turn, Nicola’s measures have been increasingly restrictive yet the virus is currently spreading at a higher rate in Scotland than in England and the mood up North has turned sour.
What’s more, Nicola has decided to cancel some of the exams for Scottish schools. Once again, we must ask what science justifies this position? An exam hall is the most controlled environment imaginable, one in which social distancing could be easily achieved. Of course, the SNP knows this and yet cancelled them anyway. This was done because Scottish children are struggling and an exam-free Scotland would artificially boost the grades and therefore education record of the SNP right before the crucial 2021 election. After all, it is hard to do quadratic equations when you don’t have an internationally recognised standard of numeracy and literacy. This is a blatant attempt to manipulate a national crisis for political gain.
Other issues have arisen as well. These range from the disastrous management of care homes to both the Chief Medical Officer and MP Margaret Ferrier flouting lockdown rules and refusing to take responsibility for their actions. Furthermore, earlier in the pandemic, a group of nationalists took it upon themselves to “defend” the Scottish border. The message and its sentiment was wholly anti-English yet there was no condemnation of this xenophobic stunt from the ranks of the SNP. Meanwhile, Nicola jokes about Jaffa Cakes in parliament and appears in comedy sketches. Behind all this is a party on the brink of implosion governing a country that stands on a similar precipice. It is one tearing itself apart on the issue of gender, reeling from the aftermath of the Salmond trial and consistently gripped by a fanatical lust for separatism. Roll on 2021!