by Colin Campbell
SOME small credit is due to Ian Blackford (and that’s not how articles here often begin). Yesterday the Ross MP said of Boris Johnson’s world-beating vaccine announcement: “This is wonderful news. If vaccines are delivered in the coming days as expected, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced the first doses could be administered in Scotland on Tuesday. There is hope.”
This Twitter contribution to the monumental news that the UK Government will be the first in the world to provide a coronavirus vaccine for its beleaguered citizens wasn’t much, but at least it was something. At least it was an enthusiastic-sounding acknowledgement, whether feigned or otherwise, that the vaccine is here, and there is hope, and plenty of it.
And it stood out because across the rest of the nationalist prattling websites and in the vile National there was precious little credit to be found.
The mood was either critical, as was to be expected, or sourly subdued. Many of the usual rancorous contributors seemed to have taken the day off.
They were, no doubt, still coming to terms with what can only be construed as a life-changing success brought about by the foresight and financial power of the UK Government. And for those who loathe the “British state” to the core of their being, that is not an easy triumph to accept.
Nicola Sturgeon had to choose her words very carefully as well. It was politically impossible for her to praise Boris Johnson or the Westminster Government. Many of her followers would refuse to countenance a congratulatory response to “Boris the buffoon” even if their life depended on it, which it might very well do.
But her stated willingness to be injected with the vaccine on live TV if necessary was not a stunt, but was very welcome.
Hard as it may be for normal people to believe, there were signs emerging yesterday that some of the more extreme nationalist zealots might decide not to be vaccinated specifically because of a toxic mixture of resentment and hatred for Boris Johnson and the loathsome Tory Government.
At least, among the scant number of comments which were made, that was one strange, unhinged theme.
Sturgeon made it clear that she believes everyone should get the vaccine as soon as it becomes available to them, regardless of any political issues involved. Her words set an example which should at least partly defuse the level of warped hostility among the Boris-haters and “British state” haters who might otherwise want nothing to do with the vaccine.
The general, consensus is that the vaccine should not be politicised. And that is partly true. On the other hand, just days after an SNP conference in which delegate after delegate demanded another independence referendum and freedom from the English oppressors, home truths have to be clearly stated, and in the days and weeks ahead, some people flirting with the notion of a “free Scotland” might begin to take them seriously.
The UK Government has poured £8.2 billion across the border for the furlough scheme which has prevented mass unemployment. An independent Scotland adrift from the UK and out on its own would have seen people begging on the streets.
Now the UK Government will be the first in the world to deliver a vaccine to its citizens. An independent Scotland utterly devoid of the financial muscle to secure advance deals with Pfizer and other major developers of the vaccine would be lagging far, far behind. Instead of an imminent vaccine with a 95 per cent success rate we’d still be buying up paracetamol.
It doesn’t bear thinking about but imagine if those trucks heading north with lifesaving supplies didn’t go much further than Carlisle. Drivers wouldn’t be confronted by abusive anti-English signs at the border, because they wouldn’t be crossing it. There would be no nationalist rabble gathered there to hurl abuse at them. They wouldn’t have to worry about “close the border” demands.
And being “free” there’s nothing we could do about it. There would be no vaccine for Scotland. Only many more endless months of misery and confusion. If this doesn’t provide some kind of jolt to the independence waverers, then nothing will.
Of course the nationalist zealots won’t take this lying down. They’ll be back on their feet again in the next day or two, with a host of grievances at the ready.
No.1: Scotland isn’t getting its fair share of the vaccine.
No.2: Scotland isn’t getting vaccine supplies as fast as England.
No.3: We’re being treated – yet again – as second class citizens.
No.4: It’s Scotland’s oil.
No. 5: The Treaty of Union stated that we are all equal partners but we are being cheated out of timely vaccination by an Eton educated English toff.
No.6: And so it goes on….
And then, hopefully, when they get their letters from the NHS, they’ll grit their teeth at the prospect of being pumped full of “the Boris” vaccine, roll up their sleeves and get the thing done.
The vast majority of people will agree wholeheartedly with Ian Blackford – just this once – that this is indeed “wonderful news” and that it is the best winter uplift imaginable.
And one final thought on Mr Blackford. If at this critical time even he’s giving credit, no matter how indirectly, to Boris Johnson and the UK Government, then the nationalists in their obsessive zeal to rip the UK apart may be in more trouble then they think.