Hard of thinking” Ferrier adds to long list of SNP embarrassments

Hard of thinking” Ferrier adds to long list of SNP embarrassments

by Linda Holt
article from Friday 2, October, 2020

REACTION to the news that Scottish Nationalist MP Margaret Ferrier (pictured) broke Covid laws multiple times has been swift and unequivocal. Even her boss Nicola Sturgeon has joined calls for her resignation.

Five hours on a busy train plus tube and taxi rides in London to make a speech in the House of Commons, and then the return journey to Glasgow, when she suspected and then knew she had Covid-19: could she have given the rules a more flagrant "up yours"?

The hypocrisy is acute. Not only is she an MP for a party claiming to lead the charge against Covid. She also clamoured for Dominic Cummings' resignation for the lesser crime of driving to Durham with Covid-19: "One rule for #DominicCummings and one for the rest of us". In the speech that she felt impelled to travel to Westminster to make on Monday night, she paid tribute to NHS and key workers for their work during the pandemic.

Cue righteous anger from all sides. Caught in the ultimate "Let them eat cake" moment, the MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West will become the most notorious of champagne lockdownistas. She is in august company. Only this week Boris Johnson's father Stanley was snapped in a shop without a mask, and ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was caught in another widely published photo enjoying a Rule of Six-busting dinner party.

In all the huffing and puffing over Ferrier, a crucial fact is being overlooked. She clearly wasn't afraid: not only of being caught, but of being ill with the virus or of passing it on. Otherwise she would have stayed home and self-isolated as soon as she suspected she had it, and certainly after she got a positive result. Instead she treated her infection like a mild cold, and soldiered on as one might through a touch of flu. By all accounts, Ferrier isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer; but that is to miss the point.

Her lack of fear is plainly shared by Stanley Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and millions of others. They may not treat the virus with quite Ferrier's insouciance, but every day sees billions of breaches of Covid rules regarding hand hygiene, masks, social distancing, the Rule of 6 and household visits (which are banned across Scotland). Many people do not avoid crowded places, or else - self-evidently - they wouldn't be crowded. Fear of a killer virus no longer stalks our streets as it did in the early weeks of lockdown.

This absence of anxiety, which Ferrier so spectacularly exemplified, exposes a growing gap between what our politicians are saying and how people are actually living with coronavirus. In recent days, both Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have ramped up their scare-mongering narratives about the "accelerating global pandemic" threatening more restrictions if people do not obey the rules. This is a dangerous road, however. Yesterday the Mayor of Middlesbrough revolted publicly against local lockdown measures. It's only a matter of time before our leaders are forced to catch up with popular opinion. To that extent, Margaret Ferrier may well turn out to have been ahead of the curve.

Linda Holt Councillor - East Neuk & Landward lindaholt.org.uk

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