By Rab Bruce’s Spider

There can be no doubt that Covid has dealt a sever blow to the world economy. In the UK, many people are still either fully or partly on furlough, many others are working from home, thus reducing demand for things like fuel, public transport and air flights. Many self-employed people have seen their income decimated in spite of UK Government payments intended to relieve the worst impact of being forced to close, while others have slipped through the cracks completely, and even those who have been allowed to continue working have seen demand for their services severely curtailed.

And yet, with the vaccination programme rolling out, and some restrictions easing, we are hopefully seeing an end to the pandemic restrictions. It is likely to take several months yet, but a return to some sort of normality is hopefully not too far away. Naturally, I’d like to see that new normality take some cognisance of the plight of disabled people who will hopefully be permitted to continue to use things like remote working, online meetings and so on, but even with that, demand for services will inevitably pick up relatively quickly. I know the overall economy will operate at a lower level than before, but surely it will not take too long for it to recover? I’m not talking about GDP here, but I’m looking for an economy where unemployment can be reduced and where employment offers a decent wage for as many people as possible.

The problem I foresee is that Covid is going to be blamed for the real culprit which will continue to impact on the UK economy for the foreseeable future. That is the debacle which is Brexit. The problems this is already creating will only become more evident as more and more businesses begin their route out of lock down, and I fear many will never recover.

Then there is the return of violence in Northern Ireland. Brexit has created yet another powder keg which the UK Government has continually turned a blind eye to. You can argue this is because Northern Ireland really doesn’t matter to the Tories, but the consequences for the peaceful majority in Northern Ireland really don’t bear thinking about.

Of course, any problems, whether with law & order, or with the economy will be masked by flag-waving appeals to Britishness, appeals which will completely ignore the fact that it is precisely such calls which have created the current situation.

Covid has been a global catastrophe, with far too many people having died due to Government mishandling, although it must be said that very few Governments outside of eastern Asia had the foresight or the plans to cope with the outbreak. But Brexit, while not as deadly in its impact, will be much longer-lasting and, I believe, even more damaging in the long run. The problem will be that the Tories, aided by the media, will continue to paint Covid as the cause of all the problems even after we reach a situation where it has largely been eliminated. How long will they play that line? Well, they still sometimes trot out the excuse that it was the 2008 financial crash which caused Austerity, so I expect Covid may well be blamed for several years yet.

As far is Scotland is concerned, we cannot fall into that trap, tempting as it might be. A normal, self-governing country should be able to re-build its economy once the virus has been brought more or less under control. But we are not a normal, self-governing country. We are controlled by Right Wing extremists who have dragged us out of the EU, imposed unnecessary austerity, and are clamping down on civil liberties. They have little interest in re-building anything except their own bank balances. Scotland needs to escape this madness. Threats of a hard border with England need to be offset by a drive to re-join the EU, thus opening borders with 27 other countries, a move which will allow us to re-balance our economy just as other countries have done after becoming independent. Ireland is one example from history, and the mysteriously vanishing blog on the LSE website cited the Czech Republic and Slovakia as more recent examples. Scotland, with its wealth of natural resources, can surely match what those nations have achieved. It will require some vision and drive, but it is perfectly possible, especially if we adopt our own currency and take full control of our economy. Covid has delivered a blow, but we must not let Westminster keep pummelling us with blow after blow to our economy. It’s time to go our own way.