Sunday 5 July 2020

Keeping SNPland pure

What was the weirdest year of your life? I already know what mine was even if I lived to be one hundred. It was this year.

Covid is a through the looking glass sort of illness. One person catches it, but has no symptoms, his neighbour catches it and dies. Japan has fewer deaths than Ireland. Sweden with no lockdown does better than some places that lockdown strictly. We still don’t know exactly what the Case Fatality Rate is (how many people have caught Covid versus how many have died), because we can only estimate how many have been infected and it's impossible to know the real cause of death in all cases. We don’t know for sure if full lockdown was necessary or if a different approach such as locking down only the vulnerable might have worked just as well, nor do we know if the decline in Covid cases in Britain will continue until it is eliminated or rise again in the Autumn and Winter.

What we don’t know may be greater than what we do know about Covid, but there are some things that we do know about this looney tunes year.

The British people are no longer willing to do what they are told. I remember back in March watching a discussion about whether to introduce lockdown now or later and the experts suggested people would only be willing to stay locked down for so long. So, it has proved. We have had mass demonstrations about Black Lives Matter and also counter demonstrations. We have had huge crowds of people going to Bournemouth beach. These people were not scared of catching Covid.

At this point I realised that the mood of British people was hugely different from the politicians telling them what to do. As we went through various easings of lockdown (now you can go within one metre of someone else so long as you wear a mask etc), it became clear that ordinary people were deciding for themselves what was safe and what wasn’t.

If hundreds of thousands of people were willing to publicly break the rules by crowding together on a beach or in London’s streets, how many more would privately be meeting friends and lovers?

There is a disconnect between what people are willing to do and the timidity of those in charge of opening restaurants, pubs and schools. If we are willing to kiss our lovers and be in close proximity with our friends, why is there such unwillingness to open schools and send children to them?

In Scotland there are now between 0-5 cases of Covid per hundred thousand people. That means that there might be ten people in Aberdeen who are sick with Covid. There might be two hundred and fifty cases in the whole of Scotland. I would have to try mighty hard to meet one and it would take me a long time even if I was desperate to catch the disease. Yet it is at this point that Nicola Sturgeon compels me to wear a mask in a shop I have been going to since March without a mask. I already stand always two metres away from everyone. I sanitise my hands and have trained myself not to touch my face. How many lives will this mask compulsion save? It won’t save any. It is not intended to do so. The point is the compulsion. Not the lives.

But as Covid declines in Scotland a new illness arises. Scotland has had about as many cases of Covid per hundred thousand people as England and Northern Ireland, Wales has done rather worse. The rate of death in Scotland is similar to that of England, but the preventable deaths in care homes is much worse. Nicola Sturgeon’s performance is no better than that of Boris Johnson and she had the advantage of a sparsely populated country, with few ethnic minorities and she didn’t almost die.

But shamefully Scottish nationalists have used the Covid crisis that ought to have brought us unity and a feeling of shared humanity to further their grievance, hatred of England and political goals.

Scottish journalism has conspired in this by failing to ask the difficult questions that journalists in England routinely asked Tories. Sturgeon on the phone may be scary but believe me she is not the KGB.

In some of the most shameful scenes I have ever witnessed bigots have dressed up as if they were at Chernobyl to defend the Scottish border against English people bringing with them plague. They have been cheered on by an SNP MP.

These are the people who used to put “Settler Watch” signs on telegraph poles. This is still the motivation for too many SNP supporters. They pretend that theirs is a civic nationalism that is welcoming and inclusive, but the mask slips and we see it for what it is and always was.

I have witnessed hatred of English people since I was a child. Sometimes I took part, sometimes I stayed silent, but rarely did I defend my English friends when they were made to feel that they were something on the bottom of my shoe because of where they were born or the accent with which they spoke.

The hatred of English people that motivates Scottish nationalists to make a spectacle of themselves on the border is taught from the cradle and nurtured and carefully kept alight in case it goes out. It is Scotland’s greatest shame. It lowers us perhaps even more than sectarianism. Without these two great evils there would be no Scottish nationalism.

I am tired of the pretence. Nicola Sturgeon stands on her platform each day and pretends that this has nothing to do with politics, but every second of her life has been devoted to independence and these seconds too.

Scottish nationalism in this strangest of all years has become ever more feverish, ever more disconnected from truth. If we are very lucky indeed, we may in the course of the next ten years be able to recover from this crisis. If we all work hard and focus on growing the economy and getting people back to work, we may just about be able to pay back the debts accrued to keep us going during the past few months. But it will take us the rest of our lives to do it.

The idea that anyone is going to have either the time or the interest to deal with Scottish independence shows a self-centred selfishness, ignorance and immorality that transcends everything we have witnessed since 2014.

As the Scottish economy declines still further in relation to Britain as a whole, because we dare not face the highly unlikely chance that we might meet someone with Covid in Scotland, we will continue to demand that the British Treasury props up the Scottish tourist industry, even as we tell the people who pay our wages that they are not welcome here. This turns us into scoundrels.

We live on the work of others while plotting to walk away without paying them back. It makes us something baser than parasites that at least remain loyal to their host.

In this strangest of years, I have simply become ashamed of Scotland. I see as through a glass darkly and no longer recognise the most beautiful place in Europe because too many of its people have made it ugly. The plague is not coming from England and it is not called Covid. It is Scottish nationalism. The flees are guarding the border and the buboes swell, burst and spread their pestilence. This is not Scotland. It is SNPland using Sturgeon’s dog whistles about quarantine to justify its desire to keep Scotland for the Scots and pure from all settlers from anywhere.