The real lesson of coronavirus for independence

Well it’s happened again. And there was me yesterday thinking that we’d reached the absolute nadir with the Scotsman blaming Nicola Sturgeon for, you know, doing her job. New depths have been plunged in the British media’s desperate attempt to find some reason why Scotland shouldn’t be independent. The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean has traditionally been cited as the deepest point on Earth, but it at least has a bottom to it. Someone ought to write to the Guinness Book of Records to let them know that the deepest point on Earth is actually the space inhabited by the anti-independence media in Scotland and their deep level sub-barrel bottom scraping attempts to find some reasons why we shouldn’t vote yes.

Today it’s Kenny Farquharson’s turn in the Times. The coronavirus, he tells us, makes Scottish independence far more difficult and less likely because it demonstrates that it’s essential for Scotland to cooperate with Westminster. This is no time for Scotland to self-isolate, warns the headline. Now I will confess, I am not entirely sure what Kenny’s reasoning is here, because the article is behind Rupert Murdoch’s paywall and fades out at approximately the same paragraph at which the reader loses the will to live.

However I would hazard a guess that one of the flaws in Kenny’s logic is that the coronavirus doesn’t merely mean that it’s essential for Scotland to cooperate with Westminster, it also means that it’s essential for Scotland to cooperate with Dublin, Paris, Brussels, Rome, Beijing, Hanoi, and Ouagadougou – amongst others. The other flaw is that currently as a part of the UK, it’s Westminister which is self-isolating Scotland from international cooperation such as the EU’s early warning system for epidemics.

The Early Warning and Response System is a European wide system allowing health authorities to cooperate across international frontiers in order to get ahead of looming health crises. ERWS is an online system which was launched in 1988. It allows the European Commission, governments, and health agencies to share information about potential threats to health. This is vital because a virus or a microbe is no respecter of international borders. EWRS helped health authorities to tackle the SARS and bird flu epidemics. Health officials have warned Downing Street that leaving the EWRS potentially puts public health at risk, yet Number 10 decided to leave it anyway because Brexit and Taking Back Control. Scotland’s health agencies also have had to leave, because of a decision made by Westminster, a decision which Scotland was neither consulted about nor allowed to have an opinion on.

It was also reported on Wednesday that Brexit means that the UK is no longer cooperating with the EU on medical procurement or drug approval. It’s likely to take a year or more before a vaccine is ready, by which time the UK will have left the transitional period and will most likely be outside the authority of the EU’s medicines regulation authority, the European Medicines Agency. The medicines agency represents a pool of over 500 million people, making it a far more attractive market to a drug company than the UK. The EMA has a special fast track for approving a vaccine more rapidly during a pandemic, and so could give approval to a new vaccine against the coronavirus within 70 days of the vaccine being developed instead of the usual 210.

The greater clout of the EU will give it an advantage when it comes to negotiating the price of the vaccine with whichever drug company develops it. This means that any vaccine which is developed against the virus could cost the UK more than it will cost the EU and be available to the UK later than it will be accessible to health authorities in other European countries. It is possible that the UK could ask for special access to the EMA given the seriousness of the coronavirus epidemic, but EU nations will quite naturally insist upon prioritising their own citizens and health authorities before the UK is allowed a look in.

What we’ve seen from the British government so far during the coronavirus is a mixture of incompetence, short term expediency, political grandstanding, and English exceptionalism. In other words, pretty much how the British state approaches any international crisis. At a time when we need mature and calm leadership we have Boris Johnson suggesting that the UK could take the virus “on the chin”, and Jacob Rees Mogg telling us to wash our hands while singing God Save the Queen. There are no health checks or controls on people coming into the UK from areas where the outbreak is more advanced – what was that about taking control of our borders? Mass gatherings such as the Cheltenham Festival are going ahead as normal.

None of this is an argument convincing anyone that Scotland is better off leaving part time Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deal with the epidemic. Yet, at least judging by its headline, the Times article misses the entire point of independence, no doubt deliberately so. It views independence purely through the lens of Westminster control-freakery. The point of Scottish independence is not to isolate Scotland from anywhere, it’s to allow Scotland to plug itself directly into international networks without all our contacts with the wider world being mediated by a Westminster which as we have seen does not have the interests of Scotland as its first, second, or even third priority. It’s like replacing a shonky dial up internet with superfast broadband, and then being accused of isolating yourself from the out of date technology of the dial up modem which constantly drops your connection.

In the Westminster bubble they see themselves as cosmopolitan, global, and representing the entire world, so naturally anyone who no longer wishes to be subordinate to Westminster must wish to isolate themselves from the planet. The concept that an independent Scotland might be capable of forging its own connections and relationships with the rest of the world can’t possibly occur to a Westminsterista. The concept that the government of an independent Scotland could seek to forge a relationship with Westminster as an equal is utterly unthinkable.

Independence isn’t about self-isolation, it’s about connections, and making international relationships as an equal partner who is treated with respect. That’s something we’ll never get with Westminster controlling Scotland’s access to the wider world. If the coronavirus epidemic has any effect upon the Scottish independence debate, it will be to make more people realise that. There’s a whole world of opportunities out there. Scotland needs to plug itself in directly.

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into and send a payment to the email address Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.

newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email

50 thoughts on “The real lesson of coronavirus for independence

  1. Kenny clearly has his finger on the pulse of our modern times. If Scotland was independent it might join the EU and with freedom of movement the zombies from mainland Europe would be able to invade plucky, old Blighty from the north.

  2. Pingback: The real lesson of coronavirus for independence | speymouth

  3. Scotland could also be invaded by EU supporters from the South. Everyone welcome, of course.

    Resident EU citizens are being charged £thousands to remain here. It is a disgrace.

  4. All the analogies I’ve heard over the years conclude with London the bottleneck versus London the benevolent, my favourite used to be flights into or out of Scotland, until I faced that reality many years later… Now whenever possible I fly via Dublin….
    I read the start of Kenny’s piece and immediately caught the whiff of dejavu-diarrhoea, but the audience Kenny is addressing is not the UK including the Scots, it is the UK of the “subsidy-junkies” believers, cut off from the rest of society by notions of being the pivot for the world….
    The terror for them is not Scotland being a success, but the majority of England having the veil lifted on their condition and questioning the status-quo…

  5. On all counts Bawjaws government is failing ,when their favoured radio station LBC is starting to question the obvious in- action even they must be concerned , wash handies & self isolate ( stay in the hoose ) must go down as the most useless medical advice in history , only out played by ( hide under a table during a Nuclear attack ) for those who dont know that really was the advice given
    I have some advice YER ON YER OWN soon you will begin to realise that . because the tories dont give a f/k about ordinary people to them you are just a bloody nuisance or a servant to them

    • Cold war nuclear official advice was hilarious – The most memorable was of painting glass panes with emulsion to reflect the nuclear glare from the other side of the wall against which it was propped with you cowering between both with sufficient food and water to last a month.
      Same clowns, same disconnect, same “Union”…

      • Having read Robert’s comment it immediately crossed my mind that similar inane advice had been given during the cold war. I may be wrong but was there not something about closing the curtains.

      • Hide under the table, closed curtains, etc., were all official advice as “protection” against nuclear flare 🙄, HMG were more worried about civil disorder than the body count…

        • And no advice on how to make your house airtight to keep the fallout and radiation out whilst somehow also being able to continue to breathe. The nuclear bunkers had scrubbers on the incoming air side to deal with such stuff.

          The only good side is that they would have had to open the doors when the canned and dried food eventually ran out or the fungus on the walls and ceilings caused a respiratory infection crisis.

  6. Yeah with Independence we’ll link to the outside world and put a hard border up with temperatures being checked and witnessing hands being washed, to our national anthem, from those coming from south of the border. And we’ll be checking the pockets of Westminster politicians on their way out.

  7. Extra great reading these days. I’m self isolating at the moment…in a house shared with my sons and husband employed in….public sector work, food industry and food production. I have all the symptons, specifi ally asked to be tested but no only for contact with infected area travel or confirmed case. I work in public sector too which has hot desking in place across Scotland. As a containment strategy it seems a bit light in my non medical opinion.

    • Ah yes, the modern world; open plan offices, air conditioning, hundreds of people sharing one kitchen, hot-desking becoming the norm, touch screens everywhere,,,

      I noticed my doctors surgery has taped a notice over their ‘efficient’ touch screen log-in system, saying ‘go to reception’. Gosh, really, they’ve just realised it is far more hygienic to have sick people speak to another person across a desk rather than smear their diseases across a screen that everyone else needs to touch? Beggars belief.

      I’m self-isolating with just a cold, L, on the principle that (a) I can’t really know without testing which I can’t get, (not high risk), and (b) no one needs any kind of cold just now, we all need our immune systems in peak condition.

      They really haven’t tried to do much containment at all from what I’ve seen.

      Good luck to you & get well soon. And well done on making a prudent decision.

  8. Perhaps the viral outbreak – and the response from the UK government – will provide some enlightenment about economic and fiscal policy and the potential for independent countries that are fiat currency issuers.

    Just before Christmas, WGD kindly gave me the opportunity to write about Modern Monetary Theory – the Magic Money Tree – and I tried to convey the potential benefit for Scotland should it ever choose to be an independent country with its own currency.

    With today’s budget, it should be apparent to everyone how the UK chancellor managed to commit the spending towards the fiscal stimulus that will be needed to combat the economic impact from the outbreak. In my opinion, it isn’t nearly sufficient – in this type of shock, we need to structure a bottom up approach and ensure liquidity for every citizen, but that’s a different issue.

    Where is the money coming from to meet the spending commitments? Think about it.

    Scotland could have done the same – magicked money out of thin air – to build a better country. But for now, we just have to hope Boris isn’t a bastard after all and maybe we’ll get a decent share. Maybe.

    Next time around, let’s do it with wise heads, eh?

      • I made this comment elsewhere last week.

        _The government must establish an emergency sovereign fund to be distributed immediately to every citizen in the UK

        We are facing an adversary that doesn’t play to the same rules as the government. It doesn’t care about the rule of law. It doesn’t negotiate or compromise and has only one objective – to survive at our expense.

        We are desperately unprepared for the fight. The NHS does not have sufficient capacity to meet even a modest outbreak – and greater reliance on self-care and isolation will be necessary.
        Unfortunately, many millions of people have no liquidity or cash savings – and they are just as much at risk as those with co-morbidity – more often, they are in both categories. How do individuals in the same predicament as Errol Graham make adequate preparations for their survival? Where do they find the money to buy even the most basic of items?

        As an independent country with its own fiat currency and central bank, the UK government is not constrained in the creation of new money for fiscal stimulus in times of national emergency – as it demonstrated in 2008 when Gordon Brown created £532 billion to bail out the banks. In this emergency, the financial assistance needs to be from the bottom up – not top down.

        The pandemic emergency carries a far greater risk to the UK

        The government should make available a cash sum of £3,000 for every adult in the UK and £1,500 for every child. This will help mitigate against some of the increased costs everyone will have to bear and will guarantee a basic standard of living in the coming months. This will require funding of £200 billion and can be distributed immediately to those most in need through the DWP to Universal Credit and Pension claimants – then through HMRC and Local Authorities. This payment should be reviewed and renewed every six months until the outbreak is under control.

        The government should also order a moratorium on all mortgage payments for households – and introduce strict rent controls in the private sector.

        Unless individuals are empowered to look after themselves – and have the ability financially to do so – we face a complete breakdown of UK society as the disease progresses. The prospect of looting, rioting or lawlessness and this virus is unthinkable. The creation and distribution of an emergency public fund will help mitigate against that particular scenario.”

        • I said at the time to anyone that would listen that the bail out money should have been distributed to taxpayers in the UK with a couple of proviso’s on when and how the money should be spent so that it stimulated the domestic economy and had to be spent within a specified period. So people would have paid off their debts, made some purchases and put what they could not immediately use into a bank or credit union they could trust, the banks that caused the problem would have failed and other banks would be established to replace them. A free market solution – not the privatising profit and socialising debt that we got.

          • Aye Gerry a million pound’s cash for everyone as a citizens bonus would have cost the Westminster Government 65-69 million pound’s and the Banks could have went to the wall.
            Most could have paid off their mortgage and cleared their debts,with some to spare then to spend and kick start the economy.
            Not all but most….and there would have been nae need for a decade of pain.
            The new Banks would have been the one’s who learned a lesson!!
            But naw….. The LABOUR Prime Minister saw the Bank’s right, to the tune of Billions and the population are still paying the price….
            Government for the People,my aunt Fannie!

          • Think your calculator battery is on the blink Liz 😉 The UK population is 66.4 million and if you were to give each one a citizen’s bonus of £1m then the cost would be a wee bit more than the bankers received. Nice thought though, but it wouldn’t exactly be good move, right?

            Austerity had nothing to do with the bank bailout – it was simply a political ideology. We’ve grown used to it, but it needn’t have been the case and the private banks have become more powerful as a result. We should have done something about this imbalance years ago, but most people are compliant and complicit. You all pay your taxes and deposit your savings to the very institutions that enslave and exploit.

            This virus might teach us a few things after all..

            As an aside, without wishing to be alarmist or encouraging conspiracy theories, there remains the possibility that this virus may have been manufactured in a lab and released accidentally or otherwise. A sobering thought that got me wondering..

            Should that be the case and the global human population is culled from the current 7.6 billion to 1 billion by the end of next year, what might the survivors and the next generation make of this time in the Earth’s history by the middle of the century? For sure their lives would be very different from ours, but given the destruction we’ve wreaked on the planet – on the environment, each other and many other animal species, might they conclude, despite all the pain, loss and anguish – that it might have been for the best?

            Humanity was unable to sort itself out, with all we knew and all we had, we were too scared to act. Whether it proves a divine, man-made or natural evolutionary creation, beating this beastie will be a sair fecht for mony.

            Good luck, be safe and well everyone.

        • £3.000 a person you say. That would just about clear my credit card debt, gradually creeping up to cover emergency essentials. That would save me the repayments of course but it would gradually creep up again because the basic UC payment has not increased whilst inflation has.

          I’m only keeping my head above water because my separated wife buys me a small supermarket shop each month and I currently have 1 hrs work a week tutoring. Headline cost to the client £25. My earnings after website deduction and deductions by UC £5.60, less than minimum wage.

          AND I have to carry forward £9.60 to next month to cover the amount they will reduce my UC by so I’m not short next month.

          Of course I don’t do it for the money, it’s derisory and brings a lot of trouble and care with it. But the idea that UC encourages and supports you into work is absolutely bogus. Only work which pays enough to completely get rid of UC is worth taking. Temporary work so you will have to wait another 5 weeks in 6months time? no thanks. Zero hours on minimum wage? no thanks. less than 15 hrs a week part time, no thanks.

          Budgeting on UC is a nightmare, with a family it must be pretty much impossible. No wonder so many end up at the foodbank and clothing charities. We also have a charity providing school uniforms here in Dundee. But civil society should not have to do these things. We should all have enough to live in dignity and reasonable comfort.

  9. Some good news. Wha’s like us?

    ‘Scottish scientist ‘very excited’ about coronavirus vaccine plans.’

    ..”A Scottish scientist who is in charge of a US team who are developing a coronavirus vaccine has said a jab could be ready for human testing next month. Dr Kate Broderick (senior vice preisdent at Inovio Pharmaceuticals in the United States) originally from Dunfermline, heads up a team of scientists in the US aiming to fast-track a Covid-19 vaccine.

    The 42-year-old stressed developing a vaccine was still a “long process” but she said she was “very excited” by the results so far.’..

    ”Dr Broderick said: “In my own career, the fastest we had ever achieved a vaccine development from receiving the virus sequence to putting it into a patient in clinical testing was for Zika.

    “We did that in seven months and at that time we felt that was an amazing accomplishment.”..

    C’mone Katie git a move on, lol.

  10. And the lies go on and on and on. For anyone who didn’t know.

    ‘We were lied to in the past about dumping of nuclear waste.’

    …”The result was that, as usual, nothing happened, until long after the USA navy left, the commander of the Holy Loch base retired and confessed to dumping tons of radio active waste into the loch. Along with this admission was his statement that the base would have been illegal in America, as such nuclear bases have got to be more than 20 miles from the nearest town.This Holy Loch base was bang in the middle of the river Clyde, and only two miles from Greenock, the second-largest town in Scotland.”..

    • Just trying to get through the blurb re consultation on the HMNB Clyde MoD ‘we can dump our nuke waste and toxins if that’s OK Scotland tough if not lolz’, deadline if the 13th now…
      Not holding my breath when you read the details the MoD can do what they like anyway. SEPA have little if any clout re this I suspect, it’s all to attempt to blame Scotland when the chips are down, well you agreed, or rather, didn’t object!

      Anyone EVER heard of the ‘Edinburgh Gazette’ because in all my 30+ years of living in Edinburgh either I am going senile, or it does not exist!

      • It’s the official legal paper for placing official, mainly court related, notices, such as bankruptcies. The English equivalent is the London gazette

  11. The Tories cut social care funding. Cut NHS funding £4Billion a year from 2015 to 2020. £20Billion.

    The SNP Gov had to mitigate the cuts. Increase NHS funding.

    Cabinet, Westminster getting the virus.

  12. Excellent article thanks!

    If we didn’t laugh we’d cry, what a day eh, what a year so far! The old fashioned phones and crossed lines came to mind reading this article…remember those days anyone? ‘Hello, is that you Doris? Eh? This is Bob, can you hear me?’ Lol.

    Oh and WHO have now classified Covid-19 as a PANDEMIC, no longer an epidemic…

    Just a bit O/T

    I am seeing so many more SUV’s ( there are lots anyway but NOT that many!) the huge ones many with darkened glass at the back, this week in central Edinburgh and New Town, is something going on we should know about? Usually see more during elections…ah or have the English civil service offices opened at Waverley? Just a bit perplexing.

  13. The Barnett Formula keeps Scotland poorer. It was devised to keep Scotland poorer. So all Scotland’s resources and revenues could be used to fund London S/E. Thatcher.

    Scotland paying for illegal,wars, tax evasion and Westminster financial fraud. Scotland paying repayment in loans not borrowed or spent in Scotland. Trident and redundant weaponry a total waste of monies. Scotland can’t borrow £5Billion? to invest in the economy. Westminster borrows and spends what it likes in the rest of the UK.

    Scotland loses £Billions in tax evasion, supported by the UK Treasury. A failed tax evading banker now in charge of raising revenues.

    The Tories have cut £Billions for essential services 2015 to 2020. They are wasting £Billions on HS2 and Hickley Point. A total waste with no business case and too expensive. No enough customers. It will always be subsidised with public monies. A poor investment.

    To cut journey times throughout Britain. Monies should have been invested in the North and Scotland. Rail journeys take nearly twice as long as they do in the South. Over the same distance. HS2 will make journey times throughout Britain take longer. The Tory slush fund. London S/E totally overcrowded. Scotland depopulated by Westminster Gov decisions. Chronic mismanagement.

    The UK raises £661Billion in tax revenues, Scotland raises £63Billion. More pro rata. Westminster than wastes Scotland’s revenues on illegal wars, financial fraud and supports tax evasion.

    Any £Millions Scotland is getting is it’s own revenues and resources back with a cut. Scotland would be much better off Independent. Making it’s own decisions about how the monies are spent with transparency.

    Westminster has cut the Scottish budget 10% a year since 2015. Now £3Billion less. Scotland tax revenues have increased every year. Plus other £Billions wasted by Westminster poor administration of the UK economy and budget. Poor decisions.

    Brexit another bad decision. It will destroy the Scottish (UK) economy. The hysteria over the virus. Another diversion,

    The best time to have an IndyRef is when it can be won. Support for the SNP/Independence increasing. Demographics.

  14. Thatcher illegally and secretly took all Scotland’s revenues. Left Scotland in poverty. It is only with Devolution 2000 that Scotland can stand up to Westminster intransigence and call them out, through the internet, and by voting the unionists out. Labour in disarray. Vote the Tories out. The Budget is another sham. The Tories do not have a clue what they are doing.


    For 80 minutes on Saturday, I am setting ang allegiance to Scotland aside. You all know me well enough that I am a fair-weather friend of your country and I could not possibly support you at this time.

    Normal service will be resumed after 80 minutes, however – whatever the result, win, lose or draw. (Just don’t try larging it if (a mighty big ‘if’), YOU actually win …)

    Kind regards,

  16. Looks as if the Welsh rugby match will be the last for a while, gatherings of over 500 people is expected to cease from Monday….

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.