The grasping vacuum in Number 10

Sorry if you’ve been expecting a dugcast today. The National’s offices have gone into lockdown and only regular staff are allowed in the building. We’re looking at a way of recording the dugcast remotely, and fingers crossed we’ll have a solution in place by next week. We’re very keen to keep the dugcast going over this crisis, all the more so because it’s been nominated for a Scottish Press Award. Although probably the glittering awards ceremony will be postponed for the duration, meaning the dug will miss out on the opportunity to wear his formal evening dress dog collar.

But back to the shitshow that is the British state. Miss Hitler was trending on social media on Thursday, and my first thought was “God, what has Priti Patel done now?” However it turned out that the hashtag was because of a court case which saw the conviction of a right wing extremist on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation, although that is also a reasonable description of Priti Patel and the Conservative government.

What we are seeing during this crisis is sacrifice and compassion from ordinary people, like the shopkeepers in Stenhousemuir who made up coronavirus kits to hand out for free to local people, the people who are looking after their neighbours and relatives, the way in which the public are adopting social distancing measures well ahead of official advice.

On the other hand there’s the greed and self interest on the part of the rich and the powerful. Richard Branson has demanded that the public purse bails out the airline companies to the tune of £7.5 billion, while laying off thousands of Virgin Airways staff on no pay for the next eight weeks. Richard could pay every single one of those staff members £500 a week for the duration of the layoff out of his own pocket and he’d still have a personal fortune of considerably more than £4 billion. Sell your private island, Branson. Hedge fund companies are raking in millions from shorting stocks as the stock markets crash. Tim Martin, the Brextremist owner of the Wetherspoon pub chain has said that pubs shouldn’t be shut and insisted that the Brexit transition period must not be extended. There has hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs, said Tim, who’s now an expert in epidemiology all of a sudden. And in a way that’s highly convenient for his financial interests too, who’d have thought it.

But the biggest contrast is in the way this crisis is being handled by Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson. During the First Minister’s press briefings she exudes calm, confidence, and reassurance, she talks with clarity and focus. Boris Johnson bumbles, fumbles, stumbles, and fnaugh fnaughs his way through his press briefings, looking uncomfortable and out of his depth. He has appreciably aged as the magnitude of this crisis has dawned on him as he stands there, ignoring all the advice of the World Health Organisation because it goes against the grain of his burning desire to be the jolly good times Prime Minister that everyone loves. He’s a haunted and hollow figure, trying to fill the grasping vacuum of his soul with a tasteless quip about ventilators. The UK doesn’t need to follow the same advice that other countries are following, because we’re special, we’re British, we’re not like Johnny Foreigner. Because reasons. The inaction and confusion of this government is going to cost lives.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was all meant to be a bit of a lark, he’d tell a few jokes and lie his way through Brexit, basking in the adulation of the Tim Martins of this world. And now here he is, watching #BorisTheButcher trend on social media as he takes his girlfriend’s laptop and spills red wine on her sofa. He tells us that we’ll get over this in twelve weeks, but those are merely the empty words of an empty man, not a prediction grounded in any reality. You can’t bluff and lie your way out of a viral epidemic.

There are serious questions about the British government’s strategy. Today in her press conference Nicola Sturgeon again went further than the UK government, calling on people not to go to pubs, not to socialise, not to act as though things were normal. She announced an increase in testing for the virus. While the British government tries to employ its nudge theory to change public behaviour, she’s trying to nudge the British government into taking stronger action. She’s walking a tightrope, risking the cries of the right wing British nationalist press that she’s undermining the British government. It’s the perfect illustration of how Scotland remains constrained by the British state and desperately needs the ability to make its own choices and decisions. But that’s a lesson which can only be highlighted after this crisis is over. Meanwhile we’re stuck with the tousle haired bumbler in Number 10, exuding all the confidence of a vertigo sufferer on a precipice.

Compare and contrast, Nicola Sturgeon has announced the suspension of the independence campaign for the duration of the crisis. There have been the predictable howls of outrage from the indy ultras crying betrayal, but there is no realistic way in which we can successfully campaign for independence while people have issues of life and death and disease occupying their minds and all public activities are suspended. Meanwhile Boris Johnson has asserted that there will be no delays to Brexit, despite the suspension of trade deal negotiations. Michel Barnier has confirmed that he has the virus, while the UK’s chief negotiator is in self-isolation. The timetable for negotiating a trade deal was already alarmingly short, there’s now no possible way that a deal can be struck in time. Johnson is determined to press ahead, despite the damage that a no deal will do on top of the economic damage we’re already experiencing because of the epidemic, because unicorns, sunlit uplands, and English exceptionalism.

The only day job that matters right now for a senior politician is focussing on this epidemic. There’s only one politician out of the pair of them who is prioritising ideology over people’s lives and the public good. It’s not Nicola Sturgeon. Everything else has been cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus, but not Brexit even though the UK is experiencing not so much sunlit uplands as a plague village. The exceptionalism of the British state will destroy the UK. We can only hope and pray that it doesn’t take too many lives in the process.

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54 thoughts on “The grasping vacuum in Number 10

  1. Well said, and the ” We can only hope and pray that it doesn’t take too many lives in the process” seconded.
    But when this business is done, there is a score to settle with what masquerades as the State.

  2. Yes you keep well and get the wee Dug trained up to sniff out trolls ( I take it he’s a dab paw at rooting out truffles which might be useful in the present shamozzle ).

    • I misread that the first time and thought you had said the wee dug was being trained to sniff out toilet rolls! Unused of course

      • Unused, maybe. But you can get or at least you *could* (get ‘down here’ as ‘recycled ones’. The mind boggles (!) and apologies to anyone on their tea or of a sensitive disposition.)

        • When I started work in the NHS in the mid-60s the toilet paper, each sheet, was stamped Government Property. It was also the hard glossy paper. I was never sure if we should return it to the Government after use or flush it and incur a penalty. I opted for flushing.

          • Government deposits were never the same after Archie delivered them in a dub-scaler….

          • IZAL medicated toilet paper, it came in little boxes, and individual sheets, glossy on one side, matt finish on the other, were just slightly bigger than a Post Card folded in two.

            ‘Good for spreading, not for wiping’.

            Ah, school days..

            I recall heading ‘Doon The Watter’ at the Clydebank Fair, the first fortnight in July, to Dunoon for a two week holiday.
            Ma Pa and we 4 boys.

            We rented a ‘single end’ in a terrace street ,’the Glebe’, shades of the Broons.

            The accommodation comprised all we could need. Sink and cooker at the window, a bed settee, a big armchair, and a bed in the recess, where we 4 lads slept the sleep of innocents, tucked up like wee sardines.
            There was a shared outside toilet, and the ‘toilet paper’ was old newspapers, neatly cut into IZAL sized sheets.

            Ah, the ‘Good Old Days’.

            We’ll get through this, for sure.

  3. Pingback: The grasping vacuum in Number 10 | speymouth

  4. Agreed. For the first time yesterday I watched bumbling Boris’s press conference. At its end I looked at my supreme leader, she who must be obeyed and asked her “what exactly did he say?”. In a few words that were not at all lady like she said “nothing”.

    Like you we compared that with Nicola. No contest.

    Some people we know are not following the advice given by Government. How self centred they are, either that or thick. By their actions they are stressing the support services and maybe letting people die who perhaps would not.

    Keep safe everyone

  5. A couple of months ago Johnson was ignoring what was happening in China. A complete lockdown of an area comprising 65 million people. Instead of cranking up contingency plans to deal with something similar in the UK he focused on Brexit and his stupid 50p coins and bung a bob for a big Ben bong. I said at the time it was criminal negligence.

    Tim Martin is a disgrace. I saw him on the TV telling us all to go to his pubs. Criminal.

    Anyone still thinking this is all an overreaction needs to look at Sky’s report in a hospital in Italy – so shocking they give a warning at the beginning. This virus is very contagious and dangerous.

    Just our luck that idiots voted for idiots like Johnson. No forward planning just late reaction all the time. Johnson did not have the courage to make the correct decisions early enough.

    Another two members of my extended family have the virus – two different households.

  6. Anyone who thinks it is feasible to have an independence referendum this year must be living in a cave.

    Assuming the Holyrood election proceeds next year the SNP should put a mandate for independence in its manifesto so we can get to hell out of this horrendous UK that puts profits before people’s lives. Also ban Tim Martin from Scotland for life.

  7. By chance I saw the last few minutes of Ms Sturgeon’s press briefing today which was live on the main BBC news web site. She was excellent as was the other Government minister who was with her. Dr Calderwood was there to and was seriously impressive compared to Vallance and Whitty. Anytime I have seen Dr Calderwood on TV even before this pandemic I have been impressed by her.

    Calm, cool, collected and mistresses of their brief

  8. Aye she’ a belter. A wee feisty, gallus lassie from an ordinary Scottish family in a council estate who went to the local school and has bigger ba’s than Dave MacKay and Joe Jordan combined. Nicola reminds me of Jennie Lee – another true and strong lassie from working roots. How I wished for a yes vote in 2014 – and had there been an understanding how money actually works (and for whom) and Nicola was in charge, then it really could have been utopia.

    I don’t care for some of the unpleasant comments from people who should know better. It’s always about perspective, but providing there is trust in the principles and integrity, there must be trust in their judgement too. In the end, we let her down – those in Scotland who couldn’t handle a wee feisty gallus girl from round the corner, who might just know better than them…

    I’m very proud of that girl – we all should be. Few like her.

  9. There is not a job that he’s not been sacked from or quit when it got boring or difficult.
    He is the very model of a classic “British” elite, whose motto is “Nothing succeeds like failure”
    He also has his old school tie and his background to ensure he never has to answer for it.

  10. Nicola Sturgeon has the edge, on a par with the Burj Khalifa, on this cruel, callous, lying millionaire, due to being brought up in an honest, down to earth, working class family on a council estate. She totally understands and can relate to people, of all ages and from all backgrounds, who are suffering for one reason or another and more to the point uses what little power that she has to do something about it.

    When we get through this, as we will, her performance as FM of Scotland during the Brexit fiasco and more so this terrible crisis will be remembered, as will Boris the Butcher’s. Then it will be all systems go to get out of this nightmare before the next unionist ”catastrophe” comes around, as it most surely will do under the Westminster regime for the criminally insane. We in Scotland have the get out of jail free card. Let’s give some thought to those who don’t.

    I’m English and I support Nicola Sturgeon.


    The wake up call.

  11. C’mon hen hurry up.

    ‘Scots scientist says a million coronavirus vaccines will be ready by end of 2020.’

    …”Dr Kate Broderick, originally from Dunfermline, heads up a team of scientists at pharmaceutical giant Inovio in San Diego, California, aiming to fast-track a Covid-19 vaccine.”..

    ..”The 42-year-old, who praised Nicola Sturgeon’s response to the pandemic, admitted that “not in my worst nightmares did I think it was going to get as bad as this”…


    Better (lying) Together.

  12. l would have preferred that independence was put in abeyance whilst this crisis was dealt with, language is important and many will see the word suspended and equate to abandoned, it’s what the BritNats are reading into it.

    • A curious preference really considering suspended and lamppost seem to be be the most popular searches with Johnson as the common search term north an south of the border. I grant you “from nearest lamppost” was limited to those who knew him, and the 100% affirmation may have been misinterpreted, but what is your point ?

  13. We’re only in the early stages of this crisis and already there is starkly clear mile between the quality of leadership in Scotland, political and medical, and thefumbling, question dodging and panic changes of the Johnson black comedy.
    Surely this will get clearer still as things get worse. Every one of us must make certain that this is driven home like a stiletto afterwards. Let no one forget.
    I’m 68 and have a wee bit of hypertension. I ‘m going to work hard to try to be around to be part of the successful indy campaign that will follow the collapse of the Johnson freak show of greedy mediocrity.

  14. China stockpiled respirators and other equipment after SARS and the ability to quickly build new emergency hospitals. Other far East countries did as well, e.g. Singapore. European Governments did not with perhaps the exception of Germany.

    We could have had warehouses filled with respirators, emergency beds, oxygen tanks, PPE but we didn’t. So with the exception of Germany Europe has a much higher death rate that East Asian countries.

    Worst of all, the UK, which barely provides enough beds and ICU beds for routine ailments. I expect the death toll in the UK to be worse than Italy, unless English luck kicks in and new anti viral drugs come to the rescue.

  15. The only thing Nicola can’t seem to plan for is independence. I suspect her limitations are becoming more crystallised but we must give credit to her ability to be a supreme functionary during times of crisis- but where is the inspirational leadership?

  16. Politics is the art of the possible. Can’t remember who said that but it’s true all the same. Nicola Sturgeon can only react to this pandemic crisis with the cards she is dealt (from a crooked dealer). She is doing very well so far; I had hoped she would go further to distance the Scot Govt from the fatally flawed Westminster plan (infect everyone, or at least 60%) but she has done what she could and exudes confidence and serious attention to details. Not so Westminster.

    The SNP have had to put indy on hold – it could never work in the midst of a lethal pandemic. So the art of the practical is what matters now. Limit the damage to Scotland as much as we can. And the emphasis is on we, not Nicola. The guidelines are clear – we need to follow them. I trust her to do what she can as much as she can for as long as she can. Likewise Paul. We could lose both before this is over… just saying. What then?

    After this dies down (if it does) we will live in a very different world politically. Nobody knows what that will look like. So far, UK Govt has given Indy unlimited ammunition to use in the argument that Westminster’s hesitance and dithering (if not outright malignancy in planning to let 60% of UK become infected in the first place) are a very good reason for us to go our own way. The Yoons will counter with the broad-shoulders of the bailout helping us all etc etc.

    It’s then we need to hold the SNP to account; will they go full throttle for a parliamentary mandate route to Indy, or lead us back down the beg for a “legal” Section 30 dead-end? Until then, strategy suggests all we can do is support our Scottish Govt and survive this. Quibble about tactics later.

  17. The doris is the anti Christ.

    He’s shut the churches first.
    Now he’s shut the Ale Houses.
    Given the Money Lenders more public cash.

    He’s introduced Prohibition.
    We can look forward to Al Capone Wetherspoon introducing the Speakeasy.
    I’m off to look out the old whisky still.

    Bernie Saunders might want to knock up a cross for the terrible twins, the don and the doris.

    Really bad when after they bring out Broonie, then lizzie the last, then the next king Billy they give us Vera Lynn.
    This must be a joke I’m living through.

  18. Noticeable that WoS blog is really a cut and paste job from a former Ambassadors post. Would it not be better to say Wings had its day in 2014 and close down or reinvigorate with a new owner we believes in Independence. Far better work continuing here on other sites and with groups such as AUOB, businesses for independence. What I am certain is that after this crisis is over the SNP will be stronger as we move to 2021. Would I prefer us to be independent now, obviously YES, but we are where we are.

  19. The best present for mother’s day Is toilet roll. The greedy panic buying.

    The UK Gov is trying to make money. Charging 18% interest on loans? So much for £33Billion. They want to make money on it and any % payments.

    Just a bunch of chancers.

  20. Sadly the expanded testing to 3000 per day will result in only 1,095,000 (one million and ninety-five thousand) being tested in a year. So it will take 5 years to test everyone in Scotland. Who’s first?

  21. We were never getting an indyref in 2020 anyway, never understood why SNP leaders said we were when nobody was making any plans.

    Since 2014 I’ve always assumed 2024 was the earliest we’d go again.

  22. I see that a Conservative MP in Cornwall is begging people not to travel into Cornwall ‘to get away’ from the virus and have a holiday, although he says he is noticing carloads of people with luggage already filling the roads. Their hospitals there just could not cope with the situation if cases rose significantly.

    The same thing applies here in the rural areas of Scotland where even getting your shopping delivered if you are self isolating due to age etc is already a major problem. I luckily got an order in earlier this week to the nearest major supermarket nearly 20 miles away, for delivery today (last slot available then) and now find the next slots are not available until 3 weeks today, so I have had to book today to guarantee I can get some more essentials by then. The local smaller shops are seriously struggling to keep up. I understand the big chains are increasing staff but it will take time for training, security checks and getting vehicles.

    I hope folk from hotstops don’t think that by ‘escaping’ to the north it will keep them safe. We live in an area where the nearest acute hospital is over 50 miles away, others have much further to travel, and local facilities, where they exist nearby, would not cope.

    Keep well out there!

    • I see that a Conservative MP in Cornwall is begging people not to travel into Cornwall ‘to get away’ from the virus and have a holiday, although he says he is noticing carloads of people with luggage already filling the roads. Their hospitals there just could not cope with the situation if cases rose significantly.


      Meanwhile in Cymru …

      Coronavirus: MPs call for restrictions on those travelling to second homes in Wales

      • Yes, this is a worry, because as you will imagine the Scottish Highlands are awash with second homes, many of them let out for self-catering and most will have been booked solid since last year. People need to take some responsibility. I should have mentioned in my earlier post that I am also including in my online orders, some essential bits and pieces for a very (even older!) friend who has been unwell recently and has no internet or mobile connection (can’t cope) only a landline. Not everyone has the ‘gear’ and I fear that is sometimes forgotten by the powers that be and others who cheerfully say ‘we all use mobile phones these days’. Go online. Actually we don’t!! Very difficult times for us and probably going to get worse, but hopefully we’ll see it through eventually if people act with care and concern.

  23. Hamish 100, the key to our success lies in our diversity. If a blog is ceasing to function effectively it is best just to put our focus elsewhere. I am reading stuff now that I didn’t read before because my focus was largely in one place. Every cloud.. as we say.

    Regards Nicola’s performance, there will be some who will belittle her efforts because they are perfect. The rest of us will marvel that she has coped with enormous pressure for so long and still presents as the most impressive leader around.

    That is not to say that I don’t see others in our movement who would offer excellent alternatives. That is the strength of our movement and how it must always be. For now I am grateful that we have Nicola in the lead role. Her obvious competence is a source of ongoing reassurance to those most afflicted by the cringe and a source of frustrated rage for the Brits, who want to believe their own twisted propaganda that they are the master race.

  24. Arthur, that’s true, in that the demise of WoS ( which is sad) is encouraging others to read other blogs and in that respect diversity is good. Once the crises is over Independence and winning the next election are our priorities.

  25. Pingback: The grasping vacuum in Number 10 | sideshowtog

  26. Good video on covid – 19.

    We are doing all we can to protect ourselves, including:

    Spraying shopping with 70% alcohol before storing for use.
    Staying in as much as possible.
    Washing the dogs feet when they come back from their walk.
    Washing hands routinely after just about anything is touched which you do not know has been recently disinfected.
    Won’t list all the things I now disinfect regularly but just the ones which did not immediately spring to mind

    TV remote, phone, cupboard handles, car door handles, computer key board, mouse, drawer handles. Post is left unopened for three days at least, remember to wash hands after putting it aside.

  27. …. I really am missing the “dug Cast”, Paul …. but I do understand …. these are trying times and we all have to “buckle up & hang on” …. stay safe and keep the faith !!

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