by Colin Campbell
A NEW poll has found overwhelming support for Inverness news and views’ condemnation of total lockdown in Inverness and the Highlands from Boxing Day.
Hours after Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement on Saturday that this region would be rocketed from Tier 1 into Tier 4 overnight we said that the decision was “grossly excessive and unjust”.
Now a poll by the Inverness Courier endorses that view.
A total of 3,600 people responded to the question of whether or not they agreed with the decision.
Sixty eight per cent opposed it and only 32 per agreed with it.
Tier 4 restrictions will see pubs, bars, gyms, restaurants and all non-essential shops close for three weeks.
As we said: “What the hell is the justification for rocketing the Highlands up from tier 1 to tier 4 overnight and instantly turning the region from reasonable normality into a bound and gagged commercial wasteland?
“Where is the scientific evidence to justify it?
“Where are the rising infection figures to justify it?
“Where is there any evidence at all to justify it?”
The move comes on the back of a new more contagious variant of the coronavirus emerging in the south of England. But much still remains unclear about the overall risk it now presents.
Nicola Sturgeon’s snap decision to hammer the Highlands as a result has provoked a fierce backlash.
Daily infection rates here are barely reaching double figures, with the number of cases running at 22 per 100,000 people.
Given the further damage the new lockdown will cause to businesses and the blow to morale in the area Sturgeon’s reaction in shutting down Inverness and the Highland is seen by many as wildly disproportionate.
Predictably, there has been no vestige of criticism from SNP politicians over the draconian new action, or to the poll findings.
The Inverness MP, disgraced lout Drew Hendry, and his Ross-shire counterpart, bellowing Ian Blackford, have plenty to say in attacking Boris Johnson and the UK Government at every opportunity.
But when Nicola Sturgeon makes a grossly unreasonable decision which is a bodyblow to the people they represent they don’t even raise a whimper.
Her lockdown move reinforces the view that the First Minister and the SNP hierarchy are all wrapped up in the central belt. That is their absolute priority. In imposing a national lockdown, it’s legitimate to question whether the situation in the Highlands – vastly different to Glasgow and Edinburgh – even crossed her mind.
In the past two days some online comments suggest some people here have confused the lockdown with a desire to stop people travelling here from elsewhere in the country, seen as a potential risk.
But the travel ban would have applied in any case, as it does now, regardless of which tier this area was placed in, lockdown or no lockdown.
The response from other SNP politicians who should be standing up for their constituents here has been equally pitiful. Feeble Fergus Ewing has also had nothing to say on it. Kate Forbes said she shared Nicola Sturgeon’s “anguish” and that she wanted to cry.
The drastic action taken will bring the worst possible start to the year for Inverness and the Highlands.
While Boris Johnson spent yesterday being criticised from various quarters, the blame for Sturgeon’s blundering northern lockdown is hers and hers alone.
Her focus and the SNP’s focus is almost entirely on the central belt – and again the Highlands is paying a heavy price.