A highly illuminating article by Martin Hannan in today’s National casts the whole Margaret Ferrier affair in a new light. It seems that when she travelled home from London having tested positive for Covid-19 her cognitive function may have been impaired by her immune system’s response to infection. Quite simply, she wasn’t thinking straight – in the truest and most literal sense of that expression.
I confess that despite my extensive reading on the subject since the pandemic started, I had not realised how severe and how common are the mental symptoms linked to Covid-19. I had read of patients reporting feelings of panic and disorientation associated with the onset of Covid-19 but tended to assume this was just the natural reaction to becoming aware that one is infected with a disease which can be fatal. What I missed was the seemingly established fact that the mental symptoms are evident before the person is even aware of being infected. That is just one more effect of Covid-19 added to a list that seems to lengthen by the day.
I have not had much to say about Margaret Ferrier’s behaviour. Apart from approving her immediate suspension by the SNP and agreeing with Nicola Sturgeon’s sharp condemnation of Ferrier’s actions, I have deliberately refrained from comment. Mainly because I prefer not to be associated with the kind of rabid witch-hunt which inevitably ensued on social media.
Margaret Ferrier’s behaviour was perplexing in that what she did was just so obviously wrong it is difficult to understand why any mature person with fully functioning faculties would do such a thing. With the benefit of hindsight I now realise that I and probably many others found it easy to dismiss this behaviour as arising from selfish stupidity because Margaret Ferrier is an MP. We have come to think of selfishly stupid behaviour as normal for politicians because there are so many instances in which selfish stupidity is the only and correct explanation.
I and probably many others may owe Margaret Ferrier an apology. Those who piled onto the bandwagon of abusive witch-hunters more than those who opted to keep their own counsel as the situation developed and further information became available.
Martin Hannan repeatedly makes the point that the cognitive impairment associated with Covid-19 doesn’t excuse Margaret Ferrier’s behaviour. He may be right. But it does help to explain it. And it may give us cause to reflect on our default assumptions about politicians and any tendency to act unthinkingly on those dubious assumptions. After all, isn’t acting unthinkingly exactly what Margaret Ferrier is being condemned for?
What’s that Biblical thing about motes and beams?
4 thoughts on “Margaret Ferrier: Responsible but not culpable?”
I certainly agree there has been a witch-hunt in the case of Ms Ferrier. That has been unedifying from the SNP politicians who have condemned her but, of course, totally in keeping with the rabid sensationalist and scapegoating press that exists in the UK.
Martin Hannan quotes the potential supporting evidence as being the behaviour of Donald Trump, Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson.
Donald Trump’s over the top boorish performance in the US Presidential debate may well have led people to question his mental health.
But surely it might just as likely be the case that here was a notorious bully desperately trying to shout down an opponent in an election campaign that he has been losing?
Apparently Dominic Cummings was feeling a ‘bit weird’ before he travelled whilst infected. However, isn’t that selfishness not just merely in keeping with his nature? (I can’t fail to see the irony in his publicly announcing a preference to employee ‘weirdos and misfits’ in the offices of HM Government).
Seemingly Boris Johnson has been having difficulty with his powers of concentration since he recovered from COVID-19. But has his inability to master the details of a brief, and his interminable waffling in an attempt to cover this severe shortcoming, been a characteristic of his that predates Coronavirus?
I will, of course, defer to science and its findings when much more is understood about the effects of this virus. At the moment the evidence can only be tentative as the research is focused on the best ways to avoid infection, treatment of those who contract it and (presumably) developing a vaccine.
As mentioned I truly think enough condemnation has been made of Ms Ferrier’s actions and she should now be left alone to get on with her life and whatever future she decides for herself.
Trump, Cummings and Johnson didn’t comprise the sum of evidence referred to. There was academic research as well. Admittedly not yet conclusive. But perhaps more persuasive than the behaviour of that particular trio as evidence of anything other than that politics in general is pretty comprehensively fucked.
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Good call Peter, balanced and gracious .
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Aye! Agreed, it is as usual the English media stenographers in Scotland that
Keep the pot stirred.
With the addition of a few SNP self righteous politicians.
After all, where is the evidential test and trace done on Margaret to follow up contacts , if any.
Seems way over the top, I thought a fine might be the extreme action.
But then, who am I to judge in these circumstances.
The biggest fakery, is the cess pit speaker calling for the parliamentary standards to be involved, em!
Cess pit parliamentary standards, mm!
The dogs down there don’t have standards, as we have seen over these past years.
Parliamentary standards indeed!
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