by Colin Campbell
WE were forewarned at the beginning of the week and now we know the reality of Wednesday’s big announcements by Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon: a seismic reversal on the return to any kind of normality.
The pubs will close early which will put the lights out in the city centre at nights and there now has to be serious doubts how many will survive through the winter.
But it was the ban on household visits which came as the biggest blow and setback since the emergence in June of some faint hope that we might be past the worst.
Relatives I spoke to yesterday are despairing at potentially not seeing their grandchildren for weeks or months on end. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
As the Dundee Courier put it yesterday in a memorably gloomy front page, “Scotland is heading into a long and lonely winter”.
Inverness MP Drew Hendry spoke up yesterday on the need for Westminster to extend the furlough scheme and many might now agree with him.
This is not the time to dwell on the fact that he claims to want nothing to do with the Westminster system and in fact wants to destroy it – as long as Westminster continues pouring billions up north across the border.
But even at the height of this crisis, which arguably has reached a new peak with it becoming all too clear that all the sacrifices already made haven’t worked and politicians and scientists haven’t a clue where to go from here, except trying things that have already failed all over again, Hendry couldn’t resist coming up with his punchline.
“Scotland should not have to wait for Westminster to act. The only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is to become an independent country.”
Even his leader, looking as scared and helpless as we’ve ever seen her, seems to be trying to keep politicking to a minimum.
But tone deaf Drew Hendry failed to recognise that.
He knows full well over half of his constituents fundamentally disagree with him on this issue and he is there to represent them as well as his supporters, particularly when the going gets as rough as it is now.
This is not the time for a display of partisan, divisive politics.
Pubs and restaurants face permanent closure. After a busy spell after reopening on July 15 city hotels are emptying out. One had nearly 20 cancellations yesterday, as people return to being reluctant to travel and holiday plans are being shelved. I happened to speak to auditors here to assess the finances of businesses in the Eastgate Centre. Their findings will make for dire reading when they are done.
I went for a haircut on Wednesday morning and was told their business had fallen by at least half, with others in the city doing even worse. True, folk are saving money by continuing, as they did in lockdown, to apply the clippers at home. But it’s still extremely bad new for city barbers.
The Inverness leisure centre has been open for a month now and though there has been an upturn in the number of people using it it’s nowhere near to being back to where it was. Now, as anxiety levels rise again, the numbers will fall even further. What does the future hold for the centre, the most important venue for fitness, health and mental wellbeing in the Highlands? There even has to be some doubt about that.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, it’s difficult to avoid hearing bad news.
If Drew Hendry was doing his job properly his tone would reflect the level of anxiety, uncertainty and despair felt by his constituents of all political persuasions.
Instead he waded in with another demand for independence.
Coming right after what is indeed a, massive setback on the return to any kind of normality, it was a jarringly mistimed and extremely stupid demand to make.
He should at this time be speaking for all the people he represents, not trying to exploit a desperate situation to further the cause of independence.