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Return of the First Fearmonger


THIS month there was no televised coronavirus update from Nicola Sturgeon for three blissful weeks – the longest interval since March 2020, when she began what for many months was a daily declamation. Our brief respite from the First Fearmonger ended last Tuesday when she was back treading the boards and warning, for the umpteenth time over the past year, that ‘this is yet another fragile, and potentially very pivotal, moment in our journey through this pandemic’.

Sturgeon’s justification for her latest lamentation was the ‘sharp rise in cases we have seen in the past few days’. She did at least concede that ‘around half of new cases are in people under the age of 25’ – young adults for whom the most common symptom of Covid is, er, feeling fine.

Indeed, the current numbers of hospitalisations and deaths from coronavirus still barely register: in Scotland during the week ending August 22, only 41 of 1,163 deaths were recorded as ‘involving’ Covid-19.

It is other serious illnesses going undetected which should concern the vast majority of Scots. Yet for Covid, the nation’s self-proclaimed chief mammy wants to re-tighten her apron strings: during Tuesday’s reprimand, she forcefully reminded her charges to ‘keep a safe distance from other people’ and ‘minimise physical contact where possible’.

She did acknowledge that these strictures are ‘not the law any more’. But give it time, because this week nanny Nicola put the country on notice: ‘If the surge continues or accelerates, and if we start to see evidence of a substantial increase in serious illness as a result, we cannot completely rule out having to reimpose some restrictions.’

It therefore was no surprise that Thursday’s Times reported: ‘Health experts are lining up a series of options for Nicola Sturgeon to stem the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases including a circuit-breaker lockdown, new social distancing rules and vaccine passports.’

Days earlier Sturgeon had promised, with a straight face, that any restoration of restrictions will be ‘limited and proportionate’; however, neither of those adjectives applies to any of the potential proscriptions briefed to the Times.

Having spent Tuesday scaremongering, on Friday she was back on camera denying that more constraints are imminent: ‘Some of the speculation you might be reading in the media is not accurate. For example, we are not currently considering a circuit-breaker lockdown.’

‘Currently’ being the operative word. Sturgeon’s disavowal was far from reassuring, particularly as she again recited the reasons why people must moderate their behaviour – or else: ‘The more we all do this, the more chance we have of avoiding the need for the re-imposition of any formal restrictions.’

In other words: act as thought you are still in lockdown, otherwise you soon will be.

Even more worrying than the Times report was this week’s warning from Linda Bauld, Professor of Public Health at the University of Edinburgh, that Scotland’s schools could soon be under pressure to close again. The Scottish government has just appointed this Sturgeon sympathiser as interim chief social policy adviser on Covid recovery, so we should take seriously her foreboding of further school closures. ‘Everybody wants to completely avoid that,’ she insists, even though we already know that panicking public health ‘experts’ and pusillanimous politicians will merrily maltreat the nation’s schoolchildren.

Ordering schools to close is in fact one of the emergency coronavirus powers which the Scottish government wishes to make permanent. Announcing a public consultation which no doubt will be the usual sham, last week Deputy First Minister and Covid Recovery Secretary John Swinney declared: ‘We want to ensure we remove measures no longer needed in order to respond to the pandemic whilst keeping those where there is demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland.’

There are, of course, no emergency coronavirus powers which are of ‘demonstrable benefit to the people of Scotland’. Since March 2020 most of the diktats from Holyrood were unnecessary, many were sinister and all have been disproportionate. But be assured that there will be a much kinder verdict from the forthcoming ‘independent public inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic’.

Announcing that this will be established by the end of 2021 was the other reason why earlier this week Nicola Sturgeon was back behind her podium. She promises the public inquiry will take a ‘persons-centred, human rights-based approach’ – whatever that means.

A copious amount of whitewash is already on order.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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