Covid Inquiry and Continuity SNP – 1 February 2024


History will mark the Covid Inquiry as when the House of Continuity SNP finally burnt down. Flames had been licking around its former proprietor Nicola Sturgeon, as police investigations and controversy gathered at the door. But all would be well, said the new owners, there’s still the legacy of how she handled Covid.

For sure, it’ll remain the case that she was better than Boris Johnson in addressing the pandemic as moderately better figures in mortality and other aspects disclose, especially in communication where she was far more articulate and surer-footed. But being better than Boris was always a very low bar.

When contrasted with statistics in comparable countries such as Ireland or Denmark, then things were not as glorious as Sturgeon cheerleaders would have us believe. Almost daily press conferences being conducted by the sainted one were shown to have more to do with building her profile than public safety.

Leo Varadkhar, the Irish Taoiseach, gave a superb statement as the country went into lockdown, more stirring and poignant than anything in this country. Yet handling the pandemic was collegiate within the Irish government, not presidential. Daily press conferences here were more about personal ego, not collective good.

Room to manoeuvre was always limited by the UK holding many of the cards, fundamentally the purse strings but also international borders and even some scientific advice. Within tight limits, she did do better than Boris and that should be welcomed. Some of the Tories’ current partisan shrieking is simply to deflect from their own errors and worse. But all was not perfect and the hype has simply resulted in a bigger fall from grace.

The Covid Inquiry was always going to be challenging. It was the unknown that was faced, and mistakes were made everywhere around the globe. Many said at the time suggested waiting until the care homes aspects were scrutinized before beatification was given. Yet even without that tragic aspect, reputations have been trashed.

It’s not the bad language. Politics is littered with leaders who turn the air blue. Lyndon Johnson was known for it, and a friend travelling on Air Force 1 with Bill Clinton said the president’s language was colourful to say the least.

What’s most harmful is the contempt that many showed for the public despite their privileged office. Partygate was to be expected from a charlatan like Johnson. His contempt for ordinary people’s well known. Better was thought of those in Scotland and yet sneering and scheming lay behind aspects, as disclosed by WhatsApp messages and their non-disclosure. Many will now begin joining the dots that lead to the Alex Salmond case with the deliberate withholding of evidence and a pathetic inability to recall.

So where does that leave Continuity SNP? There’s no legacy other than what they now must wish folk will forget. But they won’t, much of what’s now being exposed is seen as betrayal by supporters. That’s far harder to take or counter than from folk you loathe or your political enemies. The polls are looking ominous and events looming on the horizon augur badly.

Now it’s a call to back them for independence when they’ve been inactive on that front and demands for unity when they’ve expelled stalwarts. That’ll also be exposed.