by Colin Campbell
NICOLA Sturgeon said yesterday she has felt “a surge of anxiety” over a few more virus cases and may start banning household meetings again.
Is this going to work a second time around?
For many people it didn’t even work the first time round. It was difficult to keep track of the changing rules on household interaction after the first month or two.
Where did we end off? Two people could meet in the same household provided everyone else stayed in the loft and the dog was tethered outside? It may have been something like that. Who precisely knows?
Young relatives of mine were quite strict initially and I had to stay outside the house and talk to them as they stood in the doorway at a distance. To be quite honest, I’m not sure if I was “allowed” to be anywhere near their house, but even when fear levels were at their height the chance of spreading the virus outdoors from five yards away seemed remote. Although no-one in the Scottish Government at the time was prepared to concede that.
But that’s the point. The media conveys with utmost gravity the news that the First Minister is feeling “anxious” and may start banning things again.
But the gravity is wholly at odds with the reality. What is the worth of a ban that is entirely unenforceable and which people if they wish can completely ignore?
This is not to deny the seriousness of the coronavirus issue, although in the Highlands the entire number of reported infections since the whole thing began is barely over 400. But we’ve had six months of responding with goodwill to the fluctuating levels of anxiety of Nicola Sturgeon and there is every reason to believe that very many people are not of a mind to respond to six months more.
She gave the go-ahead to reopening pubs when literally everyone – including and probably especially their owners – knew that was 100 per cent certain to see a complete collapse in social distancing guidelines, as duly happened. Elderly people with the virus were deliberately discharged from hospitals into care homes – a scandalously irresponsible course of action which has seen Sturgeon ducking and diving when called on to provide answers and explanations.
In Scotland we are in the unique position of having one section of the population who believe she walks on water and that her response to the virus has been absolutely flawless in every detail. And we have the much larger remainder who can evaluate it objectively and see she has made plenty mistakes along the way.
When she started banning individual football matches there were the first intimations that she was becoming “power crazed”.
And it might be wrong to say she has started enjoying having a formerly unthinkable level of power in which with one utterance she believes she can instantly change the way we live our lives. It might be wrong to say that – but it might not be wrong to say it either.
If she decides to impose “bans” that have to be visibly carried out – like closing down all the gyms again because someone develops a cough – that’s one thing.
But with regard to “household interaction” and others that people can simply choose to ignore it’s very different.
This could go on indefinitely and it’s not going to be accepted, even by folk who genuinely want to do the best possible thing. They’ll make up their own minds who they should meet with responsibly and who enters their homes and will apply their own judgement in doing so.
It’s becoming ever clearer that this virus is something we’re going to have to live with for the foreseeable future, until a vaccine is developed.
The first time around people paid very close attention to Nicola Sturgeon’s outbreaks of anxiety and the consequences that followed. But the period of avidly listening to anything and everything she may plan to ban next is well and truly over.