Government and Covid

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It feels like the UK is being run by the characters of a soap opera. 

If you have kept up with the news, there has been no shortage of headlines featuring the antics of those at the helm at Westminster. These have included, but not limited to, the revenge arc of Boris Johnson’s former right hand man Dominic Cummings, who has told anyone who will listen about the PM and his cabinet’s shortcomings. If you can cast your mind as far back as four weeks ago, you may also remember the extramarital affair of former Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who the Rt Hon PM Boris Johnson desperately tried to keep in post, despite reports that emerged in the days previously that he felt Hancock was “fu*king useless”. Going back a bit further, we had the furore of Conservative donors paying mega money towards Downing Street refurbishments and complaints from the donors themselves that they were footing the babysitting bill for Johnson’s ?th child.  

It would all be somewhat entertaining if these apparent soap opera characters were not, in fact, in charge of the most imminent threat to public health in a generation. Their private lives have overshadowed the numerous policy failures which have led to tens of thousands of avoidable deaths. You could easily blame the Prime Minister for being distracted. But to give him his due, it is hard to effectively manage a pandemic when you’re holed up finalising a biography on William Shakespeare to fund your most recent divorce. 

The sideshows described above, however, have been useful for something. They have conveniently diverted our attention from the government’s conduct when they actually do grab a few spare minutes to carry out their day jobs. Yes, 140,000 people have died, but at least some Tory pals have made a lot of money. From doling out PPE procurement contracts to their inexperienced mates. From headhunting Matt Hancock’s ex-jockey pal and serial career failure Dido Harding to lead track and trace, which cost £37 billion and never worked.To incentivising old pal (and donor) James Dyson with tax kickbacks to produce ventilators while existing ventilator companies’ calls remained unanswered. Need I go on?

While we may despair at the current state of UK politics, it is important to remember that Scotland has one alternative.

This is no way to run a country. Whether it’s doubts over competence or evidence of cronyism, the coronavirus has re-emphasised what we already knew. The UK is being mismanaged, and the public are paying the price for it, both monetarily and with our lives. 

Regarding the pandemic specifically, the Scottish Government has certainly made mistakes. But even if you have been unsatisfied with how COVID was managed here, there are over 5 million others in the country we could potentially elect to do a better job. I don’t expect a government to be perfect. But I do expect accountability to their citizens. Scotland never voted for the Conservatives who are handling this pandemic so desperately badly. No matter how often we reject them, we still need to put up with them which is not right. And it doesn’t seem like this is going to change any time soon either. The Conservatives’ polling only seems to be increasing in the rest of the UK. Therefore it’s a fair assumption that they will capitalise on their popularity to more blatantly abuse their power and there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it.

While we may despair at the current state of UK politics, it is important to remember that Scotland has one alternative. Ultimately, if we want to see a different way of running a country, in Scotland we can get it. Scottish independence is the only viable way for us to create a system that really works for us, not just those at the top. And for the sake of all us, it is an opportunity we need to take sooner rather than later, before the soap opera turns into a dystopian nightmare.

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