There’s a lot of political chatter today about the distinct possibility of Scotland being forced into a second national lockdown – or as it might alternatively be referred to, ‘a national tier 4’.
What is curious is that it is perhaps not being considered for the reasons you might expect. It seems not to be about “the science” or “the data”; instead, it seems to be about the colour of money. Or more correctly, the temporary availability of additional fiscal resources – more money in the pot, at least for now, in other words.
Over recent days, the First Minister has repeated on several occasions that there are “early indications” that the spread of the virus is slowing to some degree, even though it is still rising. Questioned today during the televised briefing about the political implications of any such decision being made, the First Minister stated that despite those indicators she had mentioned, she cannot be certain that any improvements can be “sustained, far or fast enough”. She went on to note that monetary considerations may well “tip the balance”.
To put it plainly, then, this would essentially be a political decision, as opposed to clinical or statistical.
Listening to ‘The World At One’ on BBC Radio 4 earlier, one commentator said that it was notable that the British Government in Westminster found an extra level of generosity only when further restrictions were imposed on England – and this is true; recent requests for clarification from both the Scottish and Welsh devolved governments went unanswered regarding the possibility of any additional funding for lockdown on those two nations. And that seems eminently unfair.
There is a broader issue here.
The inequity across the nations of the United Kingdom are being noted. England should not have a higher place at the table compared to the other three nations – and yet it clearly does. And this point will not be lost on (nor forgotten by) those who seek the separation of Scotland from England through independence.
The present Prime Minister is increasingly likely to see himself remembered in future history books as the one who lost Scotland.