My default assumption is that the British government is wrong. Always wrong. Entirely wrong. Wrong in every sense of the word. This is not a position based on prejudice. It is a position arrived at by reason. It is a position that is informed by evidence. The British political elite invariably gets it wrong. Whether it is pursuing partition, invading Iraq, imposing austerity or quitting the EU, British politicians are unequivocally, demonstrably and appallingly wrong pretty much all of the time. There are reasons for this. That they so consistently get it wrong can be explained in terms of British exceptionalism and numerous other factors. But none of that matters here. What matters is that I have perfectly rational cause to take as my default assumption that the British are wrong.
Nicola Sturgeon has just as good reason to work from a similar assumption. But she doesn’t. On the contrary, she appears inexplicably eager to assume that the British government’s approach is the correct approach. Not even Boris Johnson and Brexit seem to have disabused her of this ‘quaint’ nation. The Section 30 debacle has been further indication of this tendency to be overly impressed by the glittery goldishness of the British way.
Even when Nicola Sturgeon openly disagrees with the British government – as with Brexit – she nonetheless insists on adhering to the ‘British way’ of dealing with that disagreement. Which is to treat it as if it is not, in fact, disagreement at all. Not in any effective way. It may be described as disagreement, but no action may be taken which reflects this. Disagree, but go along. That is what the British state expects of its annexed territories. Nicola Sturgeon is ever willing to oblige.
She went along with the British government’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic. In the early days, she was at pains to stress that there would be a unified UK-wide approach to dealing with the public health crisis. Which essentially meant not treating it as a crisis. We now know that the British government got it wrong. Boris Johnson was stupidly, perhaps criminally, negligent for the first few weeks of the Covid-19 outbreak. Weeks that were crucial to any effort to minimise deaths – if not economic disruption and social dislocation. That would have been a good time for our First Minister to adopt my default assumption that the British government is wrong. But that is not what she did.
Only now are we starting to see some signs that Nicola Sturgeon is prepared to contemplate a parting of the ways with Boris Johnson and the simultaneously sycophantic and treacherous clown troupe he has gathered around him. Only now is she talking about the possibility of Scotland doing things differently. Only now does she seem willing to consider quitting the fuckwit collective which, it must be acknowledged, she never looked comfortable being part of.
Only now are we getting hints that the First Minister may decline to follow Boris The Bonehead into a reckless and over-hasty relaxation of the lockdown. Again, guided by my default assumption that the British are wrong, I was way ahead of her on this. I was way ahead of here even before I read the advice being given to the British government by their experts. This, for example, from more than a month ago –
We show that intermittent social distancing – triggered by trends in disease surveillance – may allow interventions to be relaxed temporarily in relative short time windows, but measures will need to be reintroduced if or when case numbers rebound.Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team
If the stupidity of this is obvious to me then why is it not just as apparent to Nicola Sturgeon? I can appreciate that it may be beyond the comprehension of someone like Boris Johnson. But I expect better of our First Minister. It’s neither rocket science nor epidemiology! Absent rigorous intervention, an infectious viral outbreak has only one “trend” and that is to become a pandemic. If you are behind it, reacting to its spread then you are, by definition, not preventing its spread. You are losing. You are allowing people to become unnecessarily ill and needlessly die in preference to taking action which is merely politically problematic and economically costly. In that one sentence we have more than ample justification for putting as much distance as possible between ourselves and the British way.
But even now, when no doubt worthy of consideration remains that the British government got it wrong on this as on so much that went before, Nicola Sturgeon only hesitantly, tentatively, reluctantly speaks of diverging from the path taken by the British government. A path which would seem to be leading to one of the highest death tolls from Covid-19. Why? Why is it so difficult for Nicola Sturgeon to act on the assumption that Scotland is a very different country from England and that we therefore require and deserve an approach tailored to our needs? Why was this not her assumption from the outset?
Taking distrust of the UK Government as her starting point would have cost her nothing. She would still have had the option of emulating their approach where this was deemed appropriate. Of course, she would be accused of politicising the the issue and picking fights with London. But she would be accused of this no matter what she did by people who are themselves intent on politicising the issue and forces which have been conducting a low-level political war against the Scottish Government for at least a decade. She had nothing to lose by emphasising an independent approach from the outset.
Of all people, is this not what we would expect from the leader of Scotland’s independence party? Should she not be constantly thinking and acting as if independence were her default assumption?
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