Characteristically, it is Stu Campbell at Wings Over Scotland who calls attention to the First Minister’s back-pedalling on the aim of eliminating coronavirus in Scotland (Expressing a preference). His forensic eye spotted the relevant part of Nicola Sturgeon’s Programme for Government speech (see below). The following is my response to Stu’s understandable suspicion that the Scottish Government might “want to accept the prospect of the pandemic going on indefinitely”. I think Nicola Sturgeon may have had another reason for the back-pedalling. A reason not unrelated to what Stu Campbell suspects.
Total elimination of coronavirus in Scotland is as close to impossible as makes no difference. As long as the virus exists somewhere in the world it is still a threat and precautions still have to be taken. This is true of countries which control their borders. It must be even more true of Scotland where we have no such control.
Isolation is the key to eliminating the virus to whatever extent this may be possible. The point of eliminating it within the population of a country is that this allows a move away from individual, household and community isolation to isolation at a national level. Which is obviously far less intrusive and burdensome for the vast majority of people. Only those travelling across the border would be trouble by the precautions. Otherwise, life can return to something approaching what was previously considered normal.
I think Nicola Sturgeon has realised that if she hoped to achieve elimination of coronavirus in Scotland this would require that she confront the British government on the issue of border control and win that confrontation. Nicola Sturgeon does not do confrontational politics. We know that painfully well from her performance regarding the constitutional issue. She remains wedded to the Section 30 process for the same reason she has had to back-pedal on eliminating coronavirus. She will not do the kind of assertive – even aggressive – politics that would be necessary if she didn’t.
Which begs the question – is Nicola Sturgeon a leader for our time?