Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Thanks for the vaccine Boris


If a Covid vaccine becomes available later this year I will of course take it as soon as it is available to people like me. That may be some time. But even if I don’t get the chance to take the vaccine for some months or even years, I will benefit from everyone else who does take it. The fewer people who can catch Covid wherever they live in the world, the fewer there are who can pass it on to other people.

I dislike conspiracy theories whether they are about elections, vaccines or anything else. It is right to always question science as well as medical or political orthodoxy, but only when this is done using evidence or reason.

I hope Governments from around the world do all they can to make a vaccine available as widely as possible to those countries that have not had the money or the foresight to order and fund it. It will benefit all of us if as many people as possible gain immunity as fast as possible. But let us be clear Britain will gain access to this vaccine quickly because the British Government has chosen to order in advance from every credible firm researching a vaccine. We have bet our money on every long shot and will lose on most of these bets. We have effectively bet on every horse in the vaccine race without knowing if any of them will reach the finish line. It is only because we and other like-minded Governments have done this that the funding needed to reach a vaccine has been available.

The Scottish Government has announced that it will receive a proportional share of the limited stocks of vaccine based on Scotland’s population. This is of course right and proper. Scotland will receive 820,000 doses if the vaccine is available this year and 3.3 million doses next year.

How much did the Scottish Government bet? Health care is devolved. How much of the Scottish Government’s health budget was spent on the vaccine? Did we buy our own vaccine? In that case why did we need to make an agreement with the British Government to get a proportional share? But did Nicola Sturgeon mention the British Government’s foresight in pre-ordering a vaccine that no one at the time knew would ever exist? Did Sturgeon or Jeanne Freeman express any gratitude? No, of course not.

The SNP Government has taken every penny of UK funding whether it was Rishi Sunak’s furlough scheme and only ever asked for more without expressing the least gratitude that Scotland is part of a nation state that can afford these things.

It is not the case that every country in the world can pay its workers to stay at home. Not every country even in Europe can afford to do this. It is not automatic. Imagine what this year would have been like if there had been no furlough. Imagine if the markets had said, No I’m sorry but we are not going to let you borrow any more at low rates.

A trick is being played on the Scottish public. We have been kept going throughout this year because of British money and we will hopefully be cured by a vaccine bought by British money, but we give all the credit to Nicola Sturgeon because she pops up on TV every day and refuses to acknowledge where the money comes from. This makes us not merely foolish it makes us contemptible.

Some disappointed Scottish Remainers have been flirting with Scottish nationalism ever since 2016. If Scotland had been given a second referendum in 2017, we would have reached independence perhaps in 2019. This was what Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP wanted. So just after setting up our newly independent Scotland we would have learned what independence means. How many doses of vaccine would the EU have given us even if we had managed to join by now? How much furlough money would the EU have paid us without our having to pay it back? That would be zero doses and zero Euros. Do you still prefer the EU to the UK? Why? Because it benefits you with furlough and vaccines.

If Scotland were independent now, we would not have been able to fund furlough from income. We run a deficit. So, we would have had to try to borrow. But according to the SNP we would not have accepted a proportional share of UK national debt. Do you think the markets would treat us as a good risk? We would have just shown that we were unwilling to pay back our fair proportional share. Perhaps we wouldn’t pay back the furlough money we wanted to borrow.

Would Scotland have been able to afford to bet huge amounts of money on a vaccine that might never have arrived? So where would our proportional share of the vaccine have come from? The UK? But we would have just left. Perhaps we would have asked to come straight back because we hadn’t foreseen Covid. Well what’s going to happen next year or the year after. Can you foresee it? I can’t.

It’s all very well to suppose that we would manage, but this year has shown that economics is a serious business. It is the difference between getting paid while stuck at home and being first in the queue to get cured.

The most contemptible thing about the SNP is not their refusal to acknowledge that UK taxpayers and the UK’s borrowing power collectively benefit Scotland and that we get our fair share and more. Much worse than that is that the SNP will demand a proportional population share of the vaccine while next year demanding a referendum on leaving the UK without intending to pay back any of the money that was used to buy it.

It is right and proper that every British citizen is treated equally, but why should the British Government borrow to such an extent that it will take generations to pay back if some of those British citizens don’t intend to take part and don’t intend that their children will make up those generations? That is to treat our fellow citizens in Britain with contempt.

Our praise for how Nicola Sturgeon is managing Covid when she funds nothing, and our condemnation of that wicked Brexiteer Boris when his Government funds everything, makes Scottish voters not merely gullible it makes us scoundrels and thieves.