by Rab Bruce’s Spider

You’d never know it from the media, but there are some significant differences between the ways the Scottish and UK Governments are tackling the Corona virus. I’ve been chatting to a lot of people over the past few days, and the feedback from people working in various sectors is that the Scottish Government is doing a good job in very difficult circumstances. Yes, there are some problems, but industry, retail and service sectors are doing their best to cope with the impact of the virus and the containment measures now in place. I am not at liberty to reveal some of the things I’ve been told, but it does seem that manufacturing is working hard to supply what the NHS needs, the NHS itself has prepared as well as it can by stopping non-essential procedures and reallocating staff, as well as setting aside wards for the specific treatment of Covid19 patients. Food supplies are not scarce, but the social distancing measures are causing problems with long queues at some shops. However, many neighbourhoods are working together to reduce the number of people actually visiting the shops. It’s tough for everyone, but Scotland does seem, so far, to be coping reasonably well.

So why aren’t we hearing about this? It’s easy to blame media bias, and it is certainly noticeable that many media outlets are focusing on negative stories whenever they can. For those who are trying to rouse the spirit of the Blitz, that’s hardly the right approach. Perhaps the Scottish Government should do more to announce the measures it is taking, but I suppose the media would ignore or misrepresent such announcements anyway. Yes, I’m feeling cynical about the media, but how else can you react when you start thinking Piers Morgan is doing a better job of holding the UK Government to account than most journalists? It’s quite a bizarre feeling to find myself agreeing with some of the things he’s said.

As for the UK Government, I fully endorse the comments about the sheer hypocrisy of their attitude. To stand on a doorstep clapping to show support for the NHS is all very well, and I know many NHS staff were grateful for this display, but it would probably mean a lot more to them if people stopped electing Tory Governments whose intent is to scrap the NHS and replace it with a US-style healthcare system which will benefit nobody except the healthcare companies and their shareholders.

The stories coming out of NHS England are quite horrific, and the debacle over ventilators is a scandal which should have seen the Government thrown out of office. The shortage was highlighted in an exercise three years ago, yet nothing was done, and offers from the EU to participate in a Europe-wide acquisition scheme were rebuffed, with the UK Government then coming up with some pathetic excuses to explain why they have not joined the scheme. The most plausible, yet at the same time the most reprehensible, is that we are no longer in the EU, so don’t want to undermine Brexit by joining the EU’s programme. That fits with what we know of Brexiteer thinking, but it does ignore the fact that these same people are happy to have their new blue passports produced in the EU. Then again, logic and rational thinking were never part of the Brexit philosophy.

Contracts for the supply of new ventilators go to Brexit-supporting Dyson, while companies who actually have expertise in this field claim they have been ignored.

The bungling and incompetence, not to mention the outright lies from the Prime Minister, have now led to a situation where people are genuinely questioning whether Boris Johnson does have the virus or not. The man is a habitual liar, so can we believe him when he says he is displaying mild symptoms? It is, quite frankly, a ludicrous position that such questions can be seriously entertained, but Boris Johnson lies so often, it is no wonder people simply do not trust a word he says.

One positive thing I have noticed in my conversations with friends is that one or two who voted NO in the 2014 IndyRef are now acknowledging just how well the Scottish Government is doing compared to the UK Government. When this is all over, and assuming there ever is another indyRef, perhaps this might just help bring them to Yes. It’s a small consolation, of course, for people are dying as a result of this virus. Who knows which of us will be next? Even if we all follow the advice, many of us are going to suffer, even if it is only mildly. For too many, it will be far more serious. It is at times like this that a Government displays its strengths and weaknesses. Once again, people in Scotland should be grateful our devolved Government, for all its faults, is performing better than their counterparts in Westminster. It is dreadfully sad that it may take a calamity like the Corona Virus to convince people that Scotland could do much better as a normal country, but if that is the outcome of this horrible period then perhaps our future generations will reap the benefits both in their everyday lives and when similar calamities strike. As I said, it’s a small crumb of comfort, but it is a hope we can cling to in these dark times.