An excellent piece by Tom Harwood in yesterday’s Telegraph, emphases (in bold) are mine. I’m starting to appreciate the paper more than I have for many years, and may go from my current trial subscription to a full subscription in due course.
Nicola Sturgeon has presided over a disastrous double whammy Covid disaster. The First Minister of Scotland both deprived Scots of their freedom significantly more than other parts of the UK, and is now presiding over the worst R number and virus doubling time of any country in the Union. Scots have been subjected to both less liberty and more Covid. And the SNP is getting away with it without significant media scrutiny.
The Scottish Government not only kept pubs, hairdressers, and places of worship shut for longer than England, it also imposed far stricter household gathering rules both indoors and outdoors. It kept families more apart, restricted people’s freedom to travel more harshly, and deprived many Scots of being able to say goodbye to loved ones for longer. All in a vain attempt to reach a ‘Zero Covid’ Scotland.
Just a couple of months ago the First Minister was crowing that Scotland is “not far away” from eliminating coronavirus entirely. Pundits were indulging her fantasy with sexist commentary that somehow female leaders are intrinsically better at handling Covid. Commentary that conveniently ignored female-led countries with more significant outbreaks like Belgium or Bolivia. Despite the fawning headlines at the time, Sturgeon and her ‘Zero Covid’ approach has failed.
Yet despite a comparable initial outbreak to England, and one that now even appears to be worse, Sturgeon is perversely seen as having done a good job. Despite broken promises and over-optimistic predictions, despite the deadly consequences of her Government sending Covid patients into care homes, and despite being forced to U-turn into a return to lockdown-like policies, Sturgeon continues to be seen as having a ‘good pandemic’.
As polling guru Professor Sir John Curtice pointed out on the BBC’s PM programme this week:
“The relationship between people’s attitudes towards the handling of the coronavirus by the respective Prime/First Minister of the respective Governments, and the outcome in terms of the virus has not been that close.”
“Many of the mistakes and many of the difficulties that faced the UK Government; care homes, PPE, the level of the virus… were all very similar on the two sides of the border. But perceptions of the handling of the pandemic… has been very very divergent.”
While around seventy per cent of people think Nicola Sturgeon has handled things well, the reverse is true of Boris Johnson.
A media which continues to be pathetically supine, if not fawning, towards the First Minister has an enormous amount to answer for.
The attitude of much of the media is expressed in no clearer way than STV’s now-deleted ‘Thank you, Nicola’ video – in which a series of children express their gratitude to their dear leader, all set to soft piano music. The creepy video, organised and edited by the television company, sees child after child declare one after another that “We are so grateful. Thank you for always keeping us safe. Working so hard. For being strong for us.” It is the kind of cult-like adoration that would not look out of place in North Korea.
It is the attitude that leads to uncritical media cheerleading for the First Minister when she spoke of being close to eliminating the virus. By contrast when Boris Johnson spoke of his “sincere hope” that he could “allow a more significant return to normality from November at the earliest”, he was met with derision.
When Boris Johnson said “I must level with you, level with the British public, many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time,” he was met with derision and even comparisons to Shrek’s villainous Lord Farquaad. When Nicola Sturgeon is sombre, she is hailed as the grown up in the room.
These dangerous double standards have led to a situation whereby public perception is utterly divorced from reality. They are also leading to a situation where the Scottish separatists are on course to win back their majority in next year’s Parliamentary elections. Too many of those who do not fawn are indifferent. It’s time more of the media wakes up, ditches its hypocrisy, and subjects Nicola Sturgeon’s administration to the scrutiny it deserves.
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