Scotland during the Covid Pandemic: a pseudo-communist state

Scotland during the Covid Pandemic: a pseudo-communist state

by Aidan MacMillan
article from Tuesday 13, October, 2020

THERE HAS BEEN a disproportionate level of scrutiny and criticism from the media of the UK Government’s Covid response compared to that of the Scottish Government’s. Perhaps one area in which both the UK and Scottish Government could have done better was the implementation of a more targeted lockdown for those more at risk and allowing the rest of the economy to continue to work.  

Very few people under the age of 70 have died as a result of Covid-19 in the UK; sadly, Covid has been much more damaging to people over 70, or with an underlying health condition. Given the mortality rate in the UK is less than 4 per cent of the people actually tested for it, the widescale lockdown that has been imposed upon us more intensely in Scotland as a response to the pandemic, is both overbearing and economically ruinous. Worse, the mortality rate would probably be much lower if everyone in the UK was tested – and that’s not to mention the number of deaths that were recorded as Covid deaths when they weren’t (people dying in car crashes but having Covid in their system, for example).

My opinion is the reaction of the Scottish Government (especially the most recent announcements) has been completely over the top. I also think the UK Government’s statements have been overbearing but then again, it was the UK Government that came out with the Furlough Scheme to help with some of the restrictive measures it was putting in place. Our First Minister clearly wanted to go her own way with the pandemic so she could get into a game of political point-scoring with the UK Government. That tactic has embarrassingly backfired for Nicola Sturgeon as her more restrictive approach has actually ended up in a death rate from Covid much higher per capita for lived population density than the rest of the UK and indeed much of the rest of the world – and with currently the highest R number in the UK. Yet, BBC Scotland, STV and the SNP’s loyal nationalist online following seem still to be praising Sturgeon’s response and berating Boris Johnson’s. The same media commentators who are calling for Boris’ resignation are fawning over Sturgeon. This is a clear application of double standards. 

The announcements last Wednesday will likely end up in further demise for the hospitality sector (and indeed many other sectors). The UK Government’s Furlough and Job Support Schemes will also come to an end shortly. Already a lot has been done by the UK Government to support struggling sectors during the crisis – something the Scottish Government did not have the foresight or indeed the ability to implement. However, unemployment is set to increase significantly. Studies in the US have shown that for each one per cent increase in the unemployment rate, there are on average, 40,000 deaths (from depression, suicide and heart attacks, etc.).  Extrapolating this for the UK would mean roughly 9,000 deaths for each one per cent increase in unemployment (save for differences in social demographics and support systems in the UK vs. the US). 

The latest (most optimistic) projections from the Office for Budget Responsibility expects UK unemployment to increase from 4.1 per cent as it is now to 9.7 per cent by 2022 as a result of the Covid crisis and therefore we could potentially expect a further c.50,000 deaths in the UK, and that’s not to mention all of the deaths from patients with other illnesses such as cancer that will have gone undiagnosed and untreated whilst the government was obsessed with “protecting the NHS”. When we weigh up that potential death toll against the c.43,000 that have died from Covid in the UK then perhaps prioritising the economy for the sake of people’s health looks like a more sensible approach.  

This is the approach that the UK government has started to take whilst we in Scotland are all left behind, and probably face the prospect of a much more severe recession as a result.

I feel therefore that although the UK Government response has been in no shape or form perfect, it has proven to be more effective than the Scottish Government’s. Sturgeon therefore should have endeavoured to follow the UK government’s approach and not held her contradictory daily propaganda meetings. All this has done is build further political tension between the UK and Scottish governments, and give us in Scotland a much worse death rate as a consequence. 

In rejecting some of the demands of the SAGE advisors the UK Government has demonstrated there is a crucial balance to be struck between keeping the economy going and keeping people safe. The Scottish Government, conversely, gives the impression of not understanding economics, and seems to be happy with the Scottish people being locked up and living in fear.

The Scottish Government’s announcement on Wednesday reiterated again it does not care too much about taking away our liberty and has shown itself to be extremely authoritarian over the last 6/7 months. The Scottish media’s response has been supine. Not that long ago one BBC reporter was forced to apologise after suggesting that Sturgeon was enjoying the new level of power she had over the Scottish people; the STV’s circulation of the “Thank you Nicola” campaign (which was deleted within hours of it being posted) is the sort of propaganda you would expect for Kim Jong Un in North Korea; and the “Clap for Nic” campaign that Nicola’s loyal subjects organised on Facebook was embarrassingly close to what my in-laws had to put up with in Albania under Enver Hoxha’s (pictured) communist regime.

The result of our First Minister’s deviation in approach will, I imagine, cost Sturgeon, the SNP and the nationalist obsessives dearly, as it demonstrates the SNP is economically illiterate, authoritarian and makes fundamentally poor judgements. Scotland would be cutting off the arm that feeds it if it were to go independent. It is the UK Government and UK taxpayer base that is propping up nationwide jobs currently, with in excess of £10bn worth of support provided to Scotland alone (through furlough payments, Barnett formula consequentials, etc.). Scotland had a £15bn fiscal deficit this year before the pandemic took full effect. If anyone needed any more persuasion of independence being a catastrophe waiting to happen for Scotland, I think the Covid pandemic has proven that without a shadow of doubt.  

Aidan MacMillan works in financial services in Scotland

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