There’s certainly an enormous amount to be gloomy about at the moment. Remember when a sneeze used to be just a sneeze and you’d put it down to hayfever. Now it’s a worry that you might have ‘it’. There’s death, job losses, and economic misery hovering over all of us. And it’s topped off with the cherry of an unresolved civil war at the very top of the SNP, like a massive plook that needs to be squeezed but has to be left alone because you’re not supposed to touch your face just now. All this comes just as we had made a significant breakthrough in seeing the cause of independence enjoy majority support. It’s the Argentine World Cup campaign of 1978 all over again, only with actual deaths as opposed to the death of reputations. This is what happens when you get your hopes up, Scottish people.
All over Scotland, keyboards are busy with the clacking of triumphant woebags exhulting in how right they were to tell everyone that everything’s shite. There’s nothing a miserable bastert loves more than saying, “Did ah no tell yese so.” If we were able to bottle self-righteousness and use it as a fuel, Scotland would be able to solve the problem of global warming overnight. But even then Scotland’s keyboard warriors would only complain that it was all a plot to destroy Scottish Twitter.
Pessimism speaks to something deep within the Scottish psyche. Maybe it’s because we inherit the ability to dream and imagine from our Celtic ancestors, and combine it with a heavy dose of Scandinavian angst from our Norse heritage. This gives us the unique ability as a nation to look at any situation and see the many many ways in which it could all go horribly, terribly, wrong. As a nation, we could gaze upon a vista of beautiful wild flowers set in the spectacular setting of a mountain meadow and only complain about how much rain falls on it and how much shit was required to fertilise it. If there was a world cup for woebaggery, Scotland would win it every time. But we’d only obsess over how much of a burden it was having to polish all that silverware. America has a can do spirit, Scotland has a gaunnie no dae that spirit.
Nevertheless, there are a few glimmers of good news amongst the gloom. There are encouraging signs that the death rate from the virus may – just may – be lower in Scotland because social isolation measures were introduced here at an earlier phase of the outbreak than elsewhere in the UK. The lockdown was introduced here before a significant hotspot of locally transmitted infection was able to become established. Sadly the death toll will continue to rise sharply, as it will take a couple of weeks before we see the effect of the lockdown in slowing down the spread of the virus, however the death rate in Scotland does appear to be lower than it is elsewhere.
We have the Scottish government to thank for that, as it was pushing the British government for stricter lock down measures from the very beginning – much to the anger and resentment of Boris Johnson. There is a lesson to learn here, which is that freed from the constraints of the egos of the British cabinet, and the imposed need not to break the “four nation” strategy of the British state, the Scottish government could have acted even more decisively even earlier and saved even more lives. But that, like the plook on the face of Scottish constitutional politics, is something to be squeezed at a later date.
There is the good news that the Scottish government has dropped its plan to conduct criminal trials without a jury. While it’s reasonable to seek to protect people during this epidemic. It’s hard to reconcile social distancing with the need to stick 15 jurors in a room in order to consider a verdict, but the jury system is the very heart of the Scottish criminal justice system. Suspending it is the start of a slippery slope to a police state. It’s a really bad look for the Scottish government to consider the suspension of jury trials the week after the Scottish government has been left deeply embarrassed and placed in a politically difficult situation because of a jury trial. It’s a good thing that common sense has prevailed.
There’s the good news that British nationalists on social media have been left exposed as shallow and trivial idiots. Some of them – we’re looking at you Ian Smart – have been complaining that the Scottish volunteering scheme launched by the Scottish government has the word Scottish in it, and that public information about the virus published by NHS Scotland has the word Scotland in it. How sad do you have to be to make an issue out of the fact that a Scottish health campaign and health information from an organisation whose name is NHS Scotland has the words Scotland and Scottish in it? The cringe is a disease that’s stalked Scotland long before the arrival of the coronavirus. It’s taken a real disease to show up just how stupid and self-defeating the metaphorical disease of the cringe really is.
There is the good news that the politics of populist liars has been exposed for the sham that it always was. Michael We Don’t Need Experts Gove’s casual lies are now caught out and no amount of oily politeness can cover his mendacity. Yesterday he made the outrageous claim that the reason that there were fewer tests for the virus carried out in the UK was because of a lack of the reactive agents necessary to make the tests. This claim was utterly unfounded, and was soon exposed by those journalists in the traditional media who have previously been content to report the words and views of the British government without criticism. The populist plague of the Govid-19 virus is an infection in the body politic that Scotland has a ready cure for. We can self-isolate from Westminster Conservative governmments forever.
There’s the good news that while this crisis has exposed the selfishness of the rich, the callowness of the British state, and the stupidity of the increasingly desperate opponents of independence, it’s also shown us that there’s an enormous reservoir of goodwill, of care, of consideration, of the sacrifice and dedication of the NHS, of the thousands of ordinary people who are volunteering, of the children’s rainbows appearing in thousands of windows. It’s shown us that there is a determination not to allow the sacrifices we’re all making during this crisis to be for nothing. There’s a better country waiting for us beyond the gloom.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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