Matthew McPherson – a law student, Naval Reserves officer and Special Constable – says the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the need for major social reform, and when we emerge from the crisis this should be the calling of his generation.

We live in a time of unprecedented challenge and unimaginable change.  But this is not new.

Our planet is dying.  New superpowers are emerging.  Inequality is widening.  The rights of workers are being degraded.  And a virus first identified in December has spread from a city in China into the lives of almost every human on earth.

Historians will view the coronavirus as a case study of humanity’s strengths and weaknesses at dealing with a truly global crisis.  But the lockdowns, the new laws, the medical resources and the deaths will only be the first half of the story.  The second half remains unwritten: what we did when this was all over to improve our economy, our politics and our society, so that we are better prepared to engage with the other emerging global challenges we face.

Our starting point must be that there is both good and bad in humanity.  Whilst some citizens rushed to volunteer at food banks, hospitals and in their communities, others bought far more than they needed, exhausting the supply chain meaning some went without.  Whilst the majority of businesses closed on the advice of governments, meaning the inevitable loss of income for business owners, the self employed and workers, others attempted to cash-in, stockpiling vital resources for sale online or promoting their club nights for ‘One last hurrah before lockdown’.  Whilst the vast majority of citizens stayed at home and reduced their social contact to help others, organised criminals stepped up their behaviour, knowing police resources would be stretched and seeing an opportunity to exploit.

Those of us fortunate enough to live our lives in relative peace and prosperity, perhaps surprised by the selfish behaviour of others during this pandemic, need gently reminded of the bad.  And those of us – like me, who has served as a police officer for a decade – unsurprised by humanity’s capacity for cruelty, sometimes need to be reminded of the good.

So how should our shared experience of this pandemic change our engagement with each other and the world?  I think there are five pillars on which we can start to build.

1. We must allow the experts back.  I was amused recently by an internet meme which described ‘Experts across the ages’.  From the 1980s to the 2020s it progressed from ‘scientists’, through ‘economists’ and ‘historians’, to ultimately end up with ‘Karen, on Facebook’. 

Opinions can be valid, and people mostly do not set out to mislead.  But imagine taking your seat on an aeroplane, taxiing to the runway, when an announcement from your captain says, “Ladies and gentleman, I’ve never flown a plane before, but it’s okay, I’m an accountant”. 

Many of our most powerful institutions are run in this way.  People with great ability, confidence and opinion, but who are simply not qualified for the role.  In the run up to the Brexit referendum the Conservative MP and ‘Vote Leave’ campaigner Michael Gove famously exclaimed on Question Time, “The people have had enough of experts”.  Of course, half the audience burst out laughing.  They stopped laughing when the referendum result appeared on their televisions. 

Of all the suffering and unprecedented loss the coronavirus has brought us, one benefit has been that it has allowed the experts back in.  Our leaders are no longer flanked solely by political advisers, but by medical experts, empowering the people with knowledge – not just opinion – on what should be done.

2. Self regulation is not enough.  When the government appealed to the hearts of citizens to stay indoors, the law abiding majority obliged.  Decent people across the country were doing the right thing, and whilst some vulnerable workers with few economic protections were driven to find any form of income, greed fuelled those who clearly felt the rules didn’t apply to them. 

This was simply the latest example of a common failure.  The uneven playing field enabled by self regulation has been at the core of many of our greatest injustices.  Some of the largest companies in the world not paying a penny in corporation tax despite generating huge revenues in this country; businesses like Cambridge Analytica abusing social media to steal our personal information; a financial sector that privatised profits and left the public to underwrite their losses. 

We have seen throughout this crisis that encouragement alone is not enough.  Some people with wealth and power will act against the national interest, just as they do when it comes to fairness in our economy, consumption that harms our planet, and abuses that take away human rights.

3. We must change the established definitions of ‘employment’, ‘housing’ and ‘benefits’ to reflect the realities of our generation.  The basic underpinnings of social policy are not understood by those in power.  House price rises and salary stagnation has made owning a home fourteen times more expensive for millennials than for baby boomers, resulting in my generation being three times more likely to rent into their forties

Coupled with the reduction in employment security (including the exponential growth in zero hours contracts), the economic vulnerability of young people in Britain – many currently saddled with tens of thousands of pounds of debt due to tuition fees and grant cuts – has been brought to a head by this crisis.  The Financial Times reported half a million new benefit claimants in just the first nine days of the virus. 

Had a younger generation been in power, rent freezes could have been announced alongside mortgage payment holidays. Advance loans on benefits payments could have been automatically issued or, even better, a national minimum income created for all who qualify. And the welfare system in its entirety could have been supported through the fair rates of taxation which small and medium sized businesses work so hard to pay. 

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg gave evidence to a Congressional Committee in the United States, one of the senators asked him how Facebook remains a free service.  Zuckerberg seemed surprised to be asked such a basic question.  “Ads,” he replied.  Some smiled.  We definitely should not.  Legislatures around the world have been left behind by the pace of change taking place in our economy and society.  

4. It is in our own interest to find global solutions to global challenges.  Few issues we face do not have a global dimension, and most are related to the world’s growing population and its interdependence.  Our post-WW2 world of three billion people will have grown to ten billion by 2050.  The emergence of super economic and military nations (notably India and China, whose combined populations are already just under 3 billion) will result in profound changes to the way every human lives their lives. 

The pressure this will put on energy consumption alone means that challenges facing one government will essentially belong to all others.  And that is without consideration of the growing territorial conflicts we have already seen in Russia, China and the Middle East.  The globalisation of social policy will dwarf the renaissance of nationalism on both sides of the Scottish border.  Our politics, and our only viable solutions, must be based on unity.  To take any other course would be to bury our heads in the sand.

5. Our capacity for change and hope for our future has never been higher.  This pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in our economic, social and political fabric.  But it has also shown that our ability to rise to such challenges has never been greater.  The power of social technologies is no better exemplified than by the actions of Greta Thunberg, whose climate change strikes grew from one country to almost two hundred within a single year.  The future can be bright – but the climate is not our only challenge.

The price has been astronomically high.  But when our front doors open again, when buses, tubes and high streets are refilled, what world will we be stepping into?  The answer is that it will be the one we left behind.  Our world will have not changed.  But perhaps we will have. 

This pandemic has been our generation’s calling.  We may not have had the political traction to change the past or present.  But we can change the future.  Above all, we cannot – and must not – go back to business as usual.

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61 thoughts on “No more business as usual

  1. It’s easy to be soothed by intelligent analysis from a concerned and knowledgable person, but…..truth has more than one point of view in a complex world.

    1.- “Experts”, sadly, come in many guises, with different outlooks and solutions for the same issue—sometimes dependent on politics or who is “purchasing” their knowledge.
    The science behind the UK response to the pandemic is a case in point, with serious experts disagreeing with both, the timing and rigorousness of government action ( “we follow the science”).

    2.-Governments have been deregulating economic, social and political responsibilities for decades–both parties of government. It is difficult to see any change in this. It’s a driver for the Tories, and Labour will be required ( like Blair and Brown) to submit to the media Barons, if “power” is to be had. And they, like Auld Nick, don’t give something for nothing. Ever !

    3.-Will impoverishment and job insecurity lead to a New Jerusalem? History leads in the other direction, with the rich maintaining/increasing their social power.
    We do need a social revolution, but Labour is moving back to the “centre ground”, and I cannot see Sir Keir manning the barricades. Decent man though he is. And Establishment.

    4.-The most serious problem for humanity if climate change, which can only be exacerbated by the growth in human population, and the stripping of the assets of this world, beyond its power to replenish it. The cross- border British nationalism, which as usual DOESNT get a mention, is one which ignored Scotland for a century, while using Scottish Labour MPs simply as canon fodder.
    I prefer for Scotland to JOIN the world, and play its part in the international community.

    5.-We can change the world. Let us hope we do. No matter what, it’s going to be bleak for many people, and austerity will be back, bigger and badder. If we can take anything from this pandemic, it’s the sense of a common purpose, our concerns for fellow humans (even Boris), and with the voices of our “Good Angels” pushing us to a better future. Let’s try to get there.

    Now I’ve had my say to Matthew McPhersons excellent piece. It may seem I am critical, but I agree with a huge amount of its direction and sentiment. We should never let our fear of the dark, prevent us from seeking the light.

  2. A good article except that the author could resist inserting an unnecessary ‘unionist’ comment: “Our politics, and our only viable solutions, must be based on unity”

    If he was arguing for taking steps towards the removal of all international borders, or perhaps steps towards world government, then he might have a point – but he is, I suspect, just arguing for unity between the countries of the UK but not between the UK and other countries. And no explanation as to why there should be this difference of approach.

    1. A good comment except that the author couldn’t resist banging the independence drum, because apparently some people really can’t help themselves.

      1. The article did not need to mention the Scottish constitutional issue. “Unity” could have been left at the Global level and there would have been nothing most of us would disagree with in the article. However, for whatever reason, the author decided to shoehorn in the issue to his otherwise excellent article (as seems to be de riguer for all Tory/Labour articles on whatever issue), thereby drawing criticism. Its not rocket science as they say.

        Its becoming clear that of the three major parties in Scottish politics, the least obsessed by the question of independence is the SNP. And that does dismay me.

        1. Sorry Bungo Before the virus indy or the lack of a plan was beginning to pull the SNP apart .

          1. Only if you believe the Unionist media, David. The SNP are united that Scotland needs to become a normal, self-governing country. Keir Hardie wanted Scotland to have Dominion status–same as Canada, New Zealand etc.
            They are split on strategy.
            Labour is also split between those who:-
            !.- want devolution dumped–a small minority.
            2.- want devolution to be enhanced–a bigger minority.
            3.-want federalism, but….there are no flesh on its policy bones, no explanation how to achieve it (the sheer size of England, and its contentment with existing arrangements).
            Labour signed the Claim of Right which asserts the right of Scots to be able “to determine the form of government best suited to their needs”. But now Scottish Labour is opposed to Scots self-determining their constitutional future.
            If I was leading Scottish Labour I would want the constitutional question asked, and answered to allow us ALL to move on. Everyone agrees—there would be no third referendum. Scottish labour is stuck in a no-mans land vacuum. Gazumpted by Tories on one side and the SNP on the other.
            British/Atlanticist or Scottish/European.

            Sit out the back, have a beer, stay safe David.

          2. Haha, so it’s best of three is it, and pinkie promise we won’t ask to make it best of five if we lose again?

            It’s genuinely baffling to me that anyone can make that argument with a straight face. The constitutional question has been asked and answered. We could have ALL moved on. Only one side chose not to.

          3. The constitutional question will not go away until Scotland is either a sovereign, independent state or its national identity is crushed and subsumed. It is not a game. It is existential.

            Good to see you posting David. I disagree with your point though 😉

          4. This mindset is your problem. A majority of Scots chose devolved government within the UK, and you can’t accept that democratic choice.

          5. It’s not my problem; its unionist’s. We had a vote, years ago, that was narrowly won (despite an initial massive No lead of up to 60 points) because, in my opinion, unionists made dishonest claims and promises that were not kept.

            As your own Ian Murray MP has said, people must be allowed to change their minds. Or, yet again, is it different for Scotland?

          6. There was no initial 60 point lead. And the result wasn’t close, there were 400,000 votes in it.

          7. Ever the pedant Mr Hothersall 🙂

            Some of the more exuberant unionists were claiming only around 20% of Scots favoured independence in the early days of the campaign. It was obviously mince but, never-the-less, it was claimed.

            And when it only takes 1 in 20 to change their mind in order to reverse the result, it was close. You can spin otherwise, but nobody is fooled.

          8. One in ten, surely? 400k the difference with a No vote of 2 million, so to be charitable we could say if 200k changed their minds Yes might have just squeaked it. But that’s one in ten of No voters needing to change their minds, not one in twenty?

          9. The No vote won by 10 percentage points. In order to reverse the result, the Yes vote would need 5% of the electorate to change their minds. That is, 1in 20. Your point is also “technically” correct (pedantry anyone), but it does not negate mine. The bottom line is that the result was, as we all know, close.

            Polls over the last few months have shown that it has probably already happened. And that in the teeth of a sustained and obsessive unionist campaign since 2014 with no concomitant Yes campaign to oppose it. Just think what the numbers would be like if Yes was actually campaigning to the extent No has been! No wonder unionists don’t want another indyref. They know they are likely to lose it.

  3. I agree the virus has changed everything .
    One thing we need to look at is a long term emergency plan for the future for example my oxygen equipment is made in Australia medication in EU countries can we allow this to continue .
    All governments are borrowing huge amounts of money what happens if the financial system collapses I think when we need to repay the money austerity will be back big time if it ever went away .
    Who would have thought we would be sitting in front of the telly watching politicians telling us daily illness and death rate figures .
    Who would have thought a letter would be sent to people like me to self isolate for 12 weeks .
    And many of us had already been doing it .
    Remember tonight and every Thursday at 8pm please join the clappin for our wonderful NHS council and hub staff and everyone trying to help us .
    And stay at home.
    And BBC news Mueller have told dairy farmers to reduce the amount of milk they produce demand has fallen except in supermarkets .

  4. David, things MIGHT change, but the odds are, they will stay, economically, the same. Trump is champing at the bit to get America back to work: the UK Cabinet is split over the Lockdown V the Economy. The right wing press are appalled that the Commies have taken over, and are paying everyone to sit in the house.
    Capitalism suggests that the most efficient company produces the “whatever”. In reality, hidden subsidies/tax dodges play a role. Protectionism (Trumpism) may reduce global trade, and set up tariffs barriers to safeguard home markets.
    The most flexible economy in the world is no longer the US, but China. A totalitarian society running a capitalist economy is hard to beat, and China now has more $billionaires than America. It also locks up large numbers of innocent people for “re-education”.

    David, I wish you well. Stay safe.

  5. Thank you for your comment Gavin .I agree with all of it .
    Most of the press have joined the ww2 rhetoric or their owners have .
    China maybe that’s why Trump had a go at them .
    New York is now using mass graves BBC news today Friday just said the graves are for people in mortuaries unclaimed .But they will be tagged .
    I joined the clappin last night all I can do .
    Keep well stay at home stay safe Gavin

  6. Aha, Duncan. Two devolution referendums–remember?
    Two EU referendums–no demand for a decider, Labour being content with Brexit.
    But, when you WIN alongside, in fact as human shields to the Tories, you are expected to fill your side of the bargain.
    Leave yourself and myself out of this—ALL polling suggests the promises made ( mostly by Brown and Darling) were never fulfilled.
    It brought 2015 for Scottish Labour, and a loss of trust and support inconceivable only a few years before. I joined Labour 54 years ago, when I was 16. I lost trust as well.
    But that’s OK.
    I suggest a way back for Scottish Labour would be Indyref2– clear the air. You don’t agree—what would your solution be?

    Sir Keir Starmer seems a decent politician, but a London lawyer with no connection to Scotland I can see.
    In Scotland we have Leonard, again a patently decent person but NOT a natural politician. He has, as companions, Jackie Ballie and Ian Murray, both with charisma bypasses and who made disloyalty a fine art—-on the opposite wing of the party from Leonard, and with a constitutional view fairly similar to yours, Duncan. Your party is split and much of it is due to the Scottish issue, there is no positivity, no “bright future”, little to enthuse about for Scots. It’s all gloom, bad-mouthing and negativity.
    Looks like in Scotland, you will be standing side by side with the Tories once more.
    But In their shadow. Good luck with that!

    1. Let’s take this from the top then:

      1. There was one referendum on leaving the EU, in 2016, and the result was a close vote to leave. By December 2019 Labour – along with many other parties – was arguing that because that 2016 vote had been taken without the detail of what leaving would mean being available, it would be appropriate to have a confirmatory vote on the *deal* the government had negotiated.

      2. Every element of the Vow made by the party leaders in 2014 has been delivered. Gordon Brown didn’t make any promises, and it’s utterly dishonest to pretend that he did or that the opinions he expressed during the referendum debate became promises that had to be fulfilled by his political opponents. The classic example of this lie is the suggestion that Brown promised as near to federalism as possible. What he actually said was that if the income tax devolution promised was delivered – as it *has been* – then we would have the closest to federalism possible in the UK. That was his view, not a promise, and nationalists have been lying about it ever since, just like they lie about whisky export duty, the White Paper and pretty much everything else.

      You aren’t in the least bit interested in a way back for Scottish Labour. You just want independence because you’ve chosen to believe it is the solution to the problems you perceive. My opposition to independence, like that of Keir, Ian and Jackie, is based on the bald fact that it will do harm to the people of Scotland. People like you consider such harm to be a price worth paying for “freedom”. Your arguments were rejected in a democratic vote. When are you going to accept that?

      1. A whole raft of straws being clutched at there Duncan. Though the thread has somewhat diverged from the message of the article. If the author had left the Scottish constitutional question well alone, it would not have been thus. Perhaps a lesson to be learnt there?

        1. Nothing is ever your responsibility is it. The calling card of the nationalist.

          1. Hey Duncan you may have missed the obvious, did you miss the results of the last election.

            The scottish voters left Labour with one MP and left the Tories with less than half of their MP,s.

            It’s your party and your arguments that have been rejected by a democratic vote in Scotland.

            The figures don’t lie, do they Duncan.

          2. That’s why we have a Conservative government in the UK and an SNP government in Scotland, the legitimacy of neither I have challenged.

            You surely appreciate that an election based on a wide-ranging manifesto is not the same thing as a referendum on independence? Polling suggests between a quarter and a fifth of Labour voters back independence, and vice versa for SNP voters. The attempt to add up all pro and anti independence party votes in an election and equate it to a referendum on independence is very foolish. It also, sadly for you, doesn’t make your argument. A majority of Scots did vote for parties which oppose independence in the last election. And the election before that. And the one before that too.

            Of course the most egregious element of your comment is the attempt to use First Past The Post seats won as a tally of public opinion. A ludicrous thing to do.

      2. 1.—There were two referendums on devolution.
        There were two referendums on the EU ( EEC ). If its appropriate to have a “confirmatory vote” on the Brexit deal then it should be appropriate to hold one on the Vow. Many in Labour were agitating for a new referendum on the EU shortly after 2016. In 2019 Theresa May (now is not the time) was offering Labour precisely that to get her Withdrawal Bill through parliament.
        At one point the leaders of Labour, Tory, Lib Dem and SNP parties were all in favour of a new referendum on the EU, three short years after the first one. You may see the problem pro-indy people have with the honesty of Brit Nats.

        2.– I have to agree. Ignore what Brown and Darling actually said/nodded agreement to on TV. Brown *promised* nothing. His speeches were rambling semi-coherant “invocations worthy of any southern Baptist revivalist preacher” as one pro-Labour scribe described his “beseechings”. But content free–all suggestions to gullible Unionist journalists (pretty well them all). In August 2014 he is reported that “sharing of sovereignty” is on the cards: that the UK would be a “federal country within two years”. This is how it is reported, but Brown was clever enough NOT to make those commitments–these were suggestions of how it MIGHT be; in weasel words. Just vote NO, and Manna cometh !

        I tried to give my view on your new (old) Leaders. Keir, Ian and Jackie. Charisma being a foreign capital, perhaps.
        But there they are–yours–cherish them.

        I wonder, though. Does Scottish Labour believe in the Downing Street Declaration? The one that affirms the right of the Irish people to self-determination? A similar sentiment to the Claim of Right that Scottish labour signed up to.
        A legal right to be consulted on the constitution, and repeated every seven years, if desired.

        But not Scotland, never Scotland. No wonder Keir Hardie wanted Dominion Status !

        A small point. In one answer to Me Bungo Pony, you assert that “a majority of Scots chose devolved government within the UK”. After 2014, Edinburgh University discovered in a survey, that a majority of Scots actually voted for independence. The result being influenced by the electors who had come to live in Scotland from rUK and the EU. I believe that people living in Scotland, and who were enfranchised was the correct decision. Its a pity that wasn’t the same for the EU referendum.

        1. You can keep pretending that wanting a repeat of the 2014 vote is the same as wanting a confirmatory vote on the Brexit deal if you like. It remains, and will always be, nonsense. What you want is to ignore how we voted in 2014 and ask the same question again hoping for the answer to suit you better.

          1. Well Duncan if you don’t like to use ‘ first last the post ‘ as a tally of public opinion, how about the last four / five polls.
            Do they meet your standards, as they all put the SNP miles ahead of any London controlled unionist political party in Scotland.

            The figures don’t lie, no matter how you decide to interpret them.

          2. I’ve never denied the SNP are ahead in the polls. They don’t enjoy the support of a majority though. They never have.

  7. Hello Matthew
    Thanks for an interesting and comprehensive overview of where we find ourselves presently as we contemplate where we should be going. I do have different way of looking at the problems we face than you highlight. For me many of the problems we face are the same problems we have always faced it is just the fronts we fight on that have changed. A lot of this is still about capitalism: capitalism, the media and lack of scrutiny. I will try to explain with regard to some of your main points:

    1. We must allow the experts back.
    I know what you mean here and its particularly relevant due to the misinformation being presented to us these days. I do not use social media but I believe it is suggested that a lot of bad information comes from that quarter and becomes an ill-informed echo-chamber I think Gove’s words and sentiments are what you are really concentrating on here in that he suggests that experts are in some way ‘over rated’. However, I have to disagree with your acceptance of experts with a warning over the power given to them. As an example, the media’s reliance on John Curtis to analyse data leaves a lot of power in the opinions of one man – a man who will undoubtedly have his own prejudices and predilections that – as for all of us – are difficult to overcome. Data of any sort has to be analysed and different individuals can view the same data in different ways. That is true even in the sciences. Unfortunately, over the last two decades and more our media has become lazy and sloppy. Opinion masquerades as analysis. The media tends to adopt certain individuals as ‘personalities’ as much as for their expertise and thus we end up with a ‘mainstream echo chamber’. Curtis says this versus Curtis is wrong here – arguments are framed by what Curtis said. I only use John Curtis as an example in other fields it is/was Pennington, Wood, Hawking, Bellamy, Pyke etc. What we need is better access to opinion and to educate the public once again to check and cross-check sources for ourselves. Personal responsibility is what they called it when I was at school. Using the Guardian or the BBC is not good enough – they themselves are often as misinformed as any other source.

    2. Self regulation is not enough. I agree but again this is particularly relevant with regard to a media that still flaunts the basic tenets of Leveson.

    3. We must change the established definitions of ‘employment’, ‘housing’ and ‘benefits’ to reflect the realities of our generation. I ask why this becomes generational? what is it with younger people that they believe that everything is the fault of the older generation? We didn’t burn the atmosphere or cause global warming – it was the industrialists and capitalists. We suffered from this burning. we suffer its global effects, we suffer its social effects, and we suffered directly on the shop floor being run into the ground to fill the pockets of the rich.

    A younger generation in power? It would be the same. Rich and influential filling their pockets at the expense of others.
    You mention the problems associated with house-buying but when I was young the majority of people lived in rental accommodation – the house buying market wasn’t for ‘us’ and in the future to continue with a house purchasing economy is unsustainable. Rental – affordable, cheap (and I mean cheap) social housing is the future not a nation of mortgaged debt peons.

    4. It is in our own interest to find global solutions to global challenges. I agree but have to add that we also have to find local solutions. Excellently, you point out that energy consumption is a problem and you are right to highlight this – so often the talk is of increased production, production need not increase if we live differently and reduce personal consumption. One simple change to reduce a sizable amount of consumption would be to make ‘standby’ on home devices illegal. A ‘get off your ass and press a button’ approach. According to BARB the number of UK households with one or more TV sets remains at 26.8 million – just think of the energy wasted as our devices sit doing nothing.

    5. Our capacity for change and hope for our future has never been higher. I think it always has been high for individuals but for the vested interests? For them the capacity for change is zero. The top of the tree is the top of the tree, change is for the lower branches.

    To me the problem is always capitalism and our own capacity to be so easily deceived into thinking it is something else.

  8. About the Vow and independence poling comments above I have to admit that I cannot remember what was in the vow now, but I remember being astonished that it was allowed and not seen as breaking purdah. The excuse for this being allowed was so weak as to make purdah rules irrelevant. I recall the days of independence support being in the low 20s but during the period of the referendum I think it is fair to say that it hovered in the main around the mid-30% area.

    There were about seven polls with support for independence below 30% in 2013. Yes had a low in October 2013 of 25% (TNS) and 26% (Ashcroft) and again a 27% September 2013 (Progressive) and again 27% in December (TNS) but the vote was generally mid 30s circa 31 – 36%. What can be seen for this is that over the piece including the period since the referendum there has been an overall trend towards independence in spite of Gordon Brown’s timely interventions. With the occasional high poll for Yes at 52% (panelbase) we can say that support for independence has almost doubled in the last ten years.

    As to the vow even the ‘architect’ of it has something to say about it now:

    1. Hi Wynn. As I mentioned above in reply to Duncan, it was some of the more zealous unionists who were putting support for independence down in the 20% ball park. They would take an unfavourable poll, roll the “Don’t Knows” (usally a large %age) up with the “No’s” and gleefully claim the Yes vote was ludicrously low. It still happens.

      1. Hello Me Bungo Pony – I had a quick search and found an interesting figure from 1997 (British Election Study) which had Independence at 14% Devolution at 55% and No (Scottish) Parliament at 23%. It is interesting in that polarisation distilled to a binary choice has led us to almost 50 – 50 in 2020. A unidirectional trend and a rise in support for Independence of 36% since the rather aptly named “Bitter Sweet Symphony” hit the charts.

  9. Last week I got Dr Calderwoods letter telling me for underlying health reasons I was to register for the shielding service I did and the basic grocery service I did .
    The letter said self isolate from the date of the letter for 12 weeks for me that’s June 29 .
    But as I had a cold my GP had told me to isolate 3 weeks before that .
    Today Saturday I got another letter this time from John Swinney
    Reminding me to stay at home for at least 12 weeks
    Because I am in a high risk group I should try and stay at least 2 metres away from people including those we live with .
    Everyone should follow regular handwashing advice .
    Because I am in the at risk group the advice to me is not the same as for others .
    I cannot go for a walk I can go into the garden or doorstep for air .
    Stay at least 2 metres away from other people.
    Other people in the house don’t have to stay at home for 12 weeks .
    If a key worker they can go to work but to keep us safe they must follow social distancing guidance .and reduce contact outside the home where they can.
    In the house
    1 minimise time in shared spaces Kitchen bathroom sitting areas .keep any shared spaces well ventilated .
    2 Keep 2 metres away from others sleep in different beds where possible .
    3 Use separate towels and if possible a separate bathroom from the rest of the household if not possible clean the bathroom after every use with cleaning products .
    4 Avoid using the kitchen when others are a present .Take your meals to your room to eat where possible .
    Ensure all kitchenware is thoroughly cleaned .
    If using a dishwasher set at 60 degrees if you can or in very warm soapy water .
    5 The rest of the household should also if possible follow this advice but don’t need to wear any special medical clothing or equipment .
    Have not received a box yet but this is what the letter says is in it .
    Coffee 1x50g Tea bags 40 Biscuits 1x300g. Bread 1x800g Cereal 1x500g .Baked Beans 2×4 15g Soups 4x400g.
    Pasta 1x500g .Rice/Cous Cous / Noodles 1x500g.Fruit 1 1×5 count Fruit 1×5 count .Shower Gel 1xunit .
    Semi skinned UHT MILK 2x1ltr .Cooking Sauce – jar 1x350g. Pre potato whole washed 1x2kg.Tinned meat 1x340g. Tuna 1x145g .Veg Peas probably .2x300g .Chopped Tomatoes 2x400g.
    Tinned fruit 1x410g .Toilet Roll 2xroll.
    As I was doing this the latest horrendous virus figurers came out PLEASE FOLLOW THE RULES STAY AT HOME.
    Also I have had tremendous support from North Ayrshire Council staff working from home. Hub staff family and friends

    1. Hello David I hope you are keeping well considering everything that is going on. Thanks very much for giving a list of what is in the provisions box as it is good to see what is being provided. I have a couple of questions: do you have to pay for this service? In other words do you have to pay more to get the delivery or is it provided as a service? Is there scope for special dietary considerations? I ask as I have a friend who has severe COPD and a wheat intolerance but has not registered for the service. Thanks and keep safe.

      1. Thankyou for your comment Wynn .
        yes I am fine thanks .
        I got Dr Calderwoods letter and John Swinneys telling me I have to self isolate for at least 12 weeks and am on the shielding service for underlying health reasons contact details for the box are in the letter its free no cost .
        Don’t know about dietary considerations .
        I do know if you contact your local council they will help .
        Or go to that website is full of info its in the shielding letter and on the front of the podiums at the daily Scottish press conferences
        Hope this info helps .
        you could also contact local politicians but do consult the shielding letter if you have one .Check the website and contact your local council they will help. Hope this helps stay safe.

        1. Hello David – thanks for the information. I will talk her through it an go from there. Best wishes – stay safe!

          1. Thankyou for your comment Wynn dbl checked shielding letter .
            To get the Scot Govbox you have to register for shielding .
            Good luck stay safe ..

  10. The virus is enemy no 1 now people on the shielding list like me are now totally reliant on Local Councils Family Friends neighbours for everything .
    I am trying to stay cheery just ask the people I am phoning .haha
    I see people walking past cant join them .Watch the tv weather report don’t care if going to rain or not
    This virus which has taken over my life because I have 2 Scottish Gov NHS letters and one from the PM saying stay in wont win .
    I am hammering treadmill at home etc staying cheery most of the time .
    Stay at home stay safe people .
    There was a table top exercise in 2016 on how to fight a pandemic .
    After this we need to look at what lessons were learned and were they acted on .

  11. Well Duncan I believe the last poll had the SNP at 53% and with the Greens 3% added on, that’s a 56% majority for the pro-independence parties. And if that figures are projected into next year’s Scottish election the SNP will have a majority without any other parties help.

    1. Can you link to that one please? The only recent Scottish polling I’m aware of is the Panelbase/Sunday Times one of 24-26 March which had SNP on 51% in constituencies and 48% in regional lists which, while impressive and way ahead of the other parties, does not give them the overall support of a majority of voters (though pretty close to it).

      I can’t see any Scottish polling giving them 53%?

      1. You can find it on the Talking up Scotland site, it was produced by Opinium with its fieldwork done on 7th April.

        Tory – 27%
        Labour – 15%
        LibDem – 1%
        SNP – 53%
        Green – 3%

        1. Ah, right, as Wynn has pointed out this is a Scottish subsample from a UK poll. A sample of 108 people from a population of 5.5 million gives a margin of error of around 9%. It’s not really a credible result. We should stick to talking about Scottish polls rather than subsamples of UK polling.

          1. So if the margin of error for a subsample is around 9%, does that not mean the % for the SNP could be much higher than 53%.
            And the Labour ,Tory % a lot lower ? why assume the % would drop because the poll is a subsample.

          2. I didn’t assume the percentage would drop, I said it was not a credible number.

      2. Hello Duncan I think Davy might be referring to a subsample of the Opinium poll based on fieldwork on 7th April. The subsample was of 104 18+ Scots. The breakdown was

        SNP 53% Con 27% Lab 15% Green 3% LD 1%

        As always with a subsample the margin of error is substantially increased.

        I think more worrying for Labour UK wide is that their predicted votes (based on polls from 5th March to 27 March) is as low as 28.6% which would only give them 130 seats (Electoral Calculus). I cannot believe that myself and this of course was before the Labour leadership election results but I am surprised at the positive ratings that the conservatives are getting down south over their handling of the virus. Boris Johnston’s rating is unexpectedly high -47% v 38% (a net rating of +9), and the party is on a stunning 52.7% – an unbelievable rating when you consider the disarray in their handling of the virus particularly at the initial stages.

        1. Thanks Wynn. I think current UK polling reflects the odd state of things – people are far more keen to line up behind the incumbent in a national crisis, especially where other parties are explicitly (and correctly in my view) offering support to the government. I suspect Scottish polling will show similar incumbency bias while this situation persists. It will be a while before politics as normal resumes, I suspect.

          1. I agree with that, Duncan. Though current polling, while reflecting the “odd state of things” may last longer than the crisis. Why?–
            The SNP were polling fairly high already, and seem to have done well enough.
            Boris has a cult-like following down south, including the media
            The opposition is starved of airtime and yesterday we found there is no end to Labours internal strife. An inquest launched 9 days after a new Leader installed? Not a good look.

            “Politics as normal”? The new normal might be very different from the old normal .
            Boris, Rabb, Patel et al might be a price Scottish Labour considers worth paying for the Union—an increasing proportion (year on year on year) of Scots find that prospect a dismal one.

          2. It’s interesting that you recognise a cult-like following for the Tories “down south” but can’t see the same applies to the SNP here. There may not be the cadre of supportive newspapers here, but there is unquestionably a cult-like following.

          3. No “cult” in Scotland, Duncan, unless you include the media cult for “Ruthie”.
            If there is, you could give some examples.
            Many people now support the concept of Scottish self-government who are not members of the SNP (like me), and see that independence is normal among nations. Its the UK that is out of kilter, especially as it is totally dominated by one nationality among four. Its instructive that Edinburgh University found that a majority of Scots who voted in 2014, voted for independence. Motivation is strong among pro-independence people, while Unionists may always have a nagging doubt about the horseshit they are fed.

            A “cadre of supportive newspapers”? There isn’t even one, and most of Scotland’s media is now in a dismal state of utter decline, ransacked of assets by multiple owners (like the Scotsman), or starved of investment (while making profits) like the Herald or Record.

            The BBC is, as it has always been, an outlet for news from and about England in the main—ditto sport, politics, culture, history, etc. There are fewer and fewer Scots on UK-wide BBC platforms, whether TV or radio.
            I would guess there are more people working on UK-wide BBC programming from the Irish republic now, than Scots.

  12. So the largest political party in membership in Scotland is a cult ! And there may not be a cadre of supportive newspapers here.

    You are really straining to find the negative Duncan, you know fine their is only one newspaper that’s supports the independence parties. And yet with just that one newspaper, support for the SNP outstrips any other political party by
    nearly 100%, and by membership in Scotland by 400 – 500%.

    Figures don’t lie.

    1. I’m not sure what part of that you think challenges my point?

      1. Duncan, AFTER Jason Leitch made his “rubbish” statement, I believe the Times of London published a new allegation as the supply of PPE within these islands.
        Dominic Rabb insisting suppliers were instructed to concentrate on deliveries to NHS England.
        Suppliers like gompels* are still on-line as only supplying to NHS England (“sorry to Scotland and Wales”).

        I don’t think either government has covered itself in glory on the pandemic, so cannot see any political gains from it.
        Though you seem to think links to this or that prove some kind of “cult” point—normal people don’t see it in the same way.
        I would be more concerned of media coverage which “bigged” up on Johnsons recovery while nearly a thousand deaths (and it is certain that is an underestimate) were registered in a single day. Now THAT is a cult!

  13. Tonight Thursday 16 April at 8pm I will clap for our wonderful NHS staff and everyone else trying to help us .
    And the 99 year old who complete with zimmer has completed 100 laps of his garden .
    And raised over 12 million for the NHS .give him a knighthood .
    I could not do 1 lap never mind 100 well done Captain Tom Moore .
    He got a well deserved guard of honour from his old regiment .
    BBC news at 3pm its 14 million .and he is still going.

  14. And Olivia Strong who has raised over 2 million for the NHS .
    Details on BBC News website and BBC Scotland red button.

  15. Margaret Payne was trying to raise 10 thousand for the NHS .STV news website now on 16 thousand well done.

  16. When this is done Uk and Scottish Gov will have a lot of questions to answer

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