She's not the Madonna, she's a very nippy sweetie

She's not the Madonna, she's a very nippy sweetie

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Tuesday 26, May, 2020

IT IS AN ODD THING to live through a crisis. One expects it to be sudden, and then over as quickly. The truth is just like with the financial crash of 2008, the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic is a slow motion car crash, slowed all the more by the hyperreal and rapidly changing impressions from social media.

It is easy in retrospect to define government intervention as a single set of policies but really governments muddle through black swan events. No two are ever the same, so something interesting happens. They become... honest.

With all the spin and deflection it may seem an odd claim to make but when forced to risk assess, in real time, and take executive decisions governments show their true colours. So when they make decisions, make announcements, media appearances, and comment on their opponents the patina of a decade of message management cracks and a sandstorm erupts from underneath it.

With all its trappings of a cult the SNP is usually, usually,  able to contain its excesses. It does not allow itself to appear too  absurd to the outside world. It feigns reasonable behaviour and distances itself from the more radiant cranks, but not recently.

The SNP is streets ahead of the Tories in the polling for the Holyrood elections but in the management of this wicked disease they are hardly poles apart, more two sides of the same hymn sheet. Both have followed essentially the same strategy, which happens to have been the wrong one, both governments having taken a very light touch to infection control.

The Tories have left borders wide open, flapping in the breeze, with foreigners flying in arguably having greater freedoms than British citizens living here. The SNP actively discharged COVID19 patients to nursing homes, where our most vulnerable have subsequently been slaughtered by the hundreds. The best the FM can come up with is that, in hindsight, maybe we could have done things differently. 

There will never be an apology. Narcissists cannot do that. It would cause a severe pyschological injury, probably a terminal one politically. Yet there was no hindsight offered after she brazenly fed the conspiracy theories that Scottish hospitals were being sidelined in favour of English ones by design and only managed to extend her graces as far as to say she was satisfied the crackpot buffoonery was nothing more than that. Having been FM and health secretary for years there was never an excuse to indulge the Ickean fringes of her tribe yet still she felt the need. 

Likewise in the last few days she has surfaced to attack the Prime Minister and the tale of the Durham roadtrip yet has made no comment about the complete lack of contact tracing infrastructure in Scotland. Worse, she has spent weeks striving for differences with the media message of Downing Street over the eventual and badly needed reopening of the economy. 

Despite feeling the need to rebadge everything the UK government does as a Scottish government initiative  there remains essentially no difference in the two governments' strategies and no published data to show one to be superior over another. The question is which has failed the least, and the rUK is in some respects winning. Simply put our FM has made hay over the political aspects of the crisis and sent hundreds of her fellow Scots to the crematorium by failing to plan in advance what were obviously complex care needs.

Imagine, for example, if there were an empty hospital, smack bang in the middle of Glasgow, that was especially  equipped to support Covid-19 patients and was being used now as step-down intermediate care, to in effect quarantine existing care home residents so that when they returned to their base facility they would not do so as a walking-talking-smallpox blanket. Was it really so much to ask that such basic infection control was performed before discharging patients? And still the hospital lies empty.

Finally, for now at least, there is the question of just how much the Nike conference outbreak in the capital was covered up back in February. To cite patient confidentiality in reporting an outbreak of a disease that was at the time notifiable is asinine and desperate. What then of the daily case figures, the daily death figures, how could any of this be reported as it uses the exact same anonymised data that reporting an outbreak does? 

How can anyone come forward, and ask for help and advice, if they do not know they have been exposed to the infectious disease? We have had a PIP breast implant scandal. We have had a crackpot surgeon carving his initials into patients' livers, and we have had tainted blood scandals all of which required publicity to encourage people to come forward for testing. What is different about Covid-19?

None of this matters to the FM. There is no doubt she loves the idea that she loves Scotland – though not as much as she loves Scottish nationalism. Scottish people and especially the vulnerable, are further down the line still. 

Despite the careful choreography of the above photo, she is not Scotland's Chief Mammy and certainly not a haloed Madonna.

She is a very nippy sweetie who should focus on caring for Scots, and being perhaps a little more honest with them.  

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