by Colin Campbell
IT may be difficult to predict anything amid the ongoing confusion and garbled UK and Scottish government mixed messages surrounding the virus.
But one thing is certain.
If Nicola Sturgeon imposes a full lockdown on Inverness and the Highlands it will be met with deep scepticism by some, hostility by others, and outright fury by many.
How many people like me spent part of yesterday trying to make sense of what the First Minister was saying on the issue?
By late afternoon I gave up trying to peer through the fog and headed to burn some steam off at the leisure centre gym.
Which would, of course be locked and bolted again like everything else if the First Minister follows through on her lockdown threat.
Even her most ardent fans must be embarrassed by her performance yesterday.
And criticism of it is fully justified without politics entering the equation.
At 6am on Monday Inverness and the Highlands formally entered tier one of the guidelines with minimal restrictions. That was based on scientific advice and, with only a tiny handful of new infections being reported each day, seemed proportionate and justified.
Sturgeon and her advisers had got it just about right.
But a few hours later, when the prospect of more furlough money emerged from the UK Government, Sturgeon spoke out again and put level heads in a spin.
With free cash coming on to the table, she might instead, she said, put every part of Scotland in tier 4 and lock us all up again.
This was government by utter shambles.
She has had plenty bad days during this situation, understandably so in some instances because of the extreme complexity of the problems she faces. But yesterday was surely one of the very worst.
Is she following the science or is she following the free money?
With infection rates in the Highlands and Islands at the last count averaging 15 per 100,000 population it would be beyond belief to close down shops and businesses and order everyone to stay at home because of it.
It was stunning that she could even hint that she might do it.
She’s now so used to hearing the sound of her own voice does she sometimes imagine that she’s only thinking aloud and that no one’s actually listening? That if she says something astonishing it doesn’t have an impact? And that people in the Highlands wouldn’t be staggered to learn she was even thinking of hoisting us into tier 4 only hours after tier 1 had begun.
Or is it the fact that she’s forgotten about the Highlands entirely, and was thinking only about her real priority, the central belt, where virus rates are much higher?
That, in fact, seems the likeliest explanation.
Who knows what will happen next.
But don’t expect Drew Hendry or Fergus Ewing to try and gently remind her that we do exist and that it would be madness to lock us all up again along with other areas where infection rates are much, much worse.
Challenge the Great Leader who is having such “a good virus”? They wouldn’t dare.
A week last Sunday an anti-lockdown protest was held in Falcon Square in Inverness and attracted around 200 people, and it also attracted much criticism.
The organisers should have their protest placards at the ready again in case Sturgeon does entirely lose her marbles and impose a full lockdown on the Highland capital and the wider region.
But they’d need to find a location other than Falcon Square.
Because given the number of people who’d take part, it wouldn’t be nearly big enough.