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Sketch: Coronavirus and Scottish politics

Sketch: Coronavirus and Scottish politics

It has always been tempting to wonder how political leaders would cope with self-isolation. They’re generally pretty social creatures and some, you suspect, would do better than others.

Jackson Carlaw, for example, would surely thrive. This is a man who owns 68 stringed marionettes, and so any time in self-quarantine would provide an ideal opportunity to spend more time sitting in a basement, working on his puppet shows. A lot of people worry that being stuck inside with no human interaction would make them go weird, but these are almost certainly not people who already own 68 stringed marionette puppets (68 at the time of writing).

Patrick Harvie, in contrast, would surely find it much harder. You might think he would be alright, using the time to live feral and naked in the wilderness, foraging for his grubs, but this is actually a misconception. Patrick Harvie is a pack animal, and would struggle if dumped alone in the woods, though of course there is really only one way to find out.

Nicola Sturgeon would almost certainly be the dullest, given she would probably just sit and read, and so if anything, Willie Rennie would likely be the best suited to embracing the opportunities isolation brought. The man honestly seems to enjoy unusual experiences, and there’s a decent chance the outcome might be the most surreal set of political memoirs in history.

If this was China, they’d probably have responded to coronavirus by building a super Jason Leitch by now

Well, hopefully, we won’t find out. And at this stage, it’s all hypothetical anyway, with core parliamentary business continuing on as before, though public engagements have been suspended to limit opportunities for coronavirus to spread.

But in a time like this, it can be hard to know what to do. The FM faced pretty heavy criticism, for example, after appearing at a televised press conference to provide important information on an issue with critical importance for the population. And you can certainly see why. Where does the First Minister get off trying to provide reassurance to the public at a time of widespread anxiety?

It was outrageous, though some actually went further, labelling the move a “borderline coup d’état”. Hard to know what to make of that, except that for a woman who has never launched a coup, Sturgeon certainly spends a surprising amount of time being accused of launching coups.

But her inexperience showed, to be honest. Sturgeon is often portrayed as quite a skilled, canny politician, but she is clearly inept when it comes to violently overthrowing a government. You’re not meant to stand next to the Chief Medical Officer and provide public health information, Nicola. You’re meant to seize control of parliament and the media and stuff.

So what could help? Well, for a start, there is an obvious shortage of Jason Leitches. A lot of focus has been on stockpiling toilet paper and handwash, but a wider question surrounds the lack of access to Jason Leitches.

Most impressively, Leitch even appears to have developed a biological resistance to Piers Morgan’s stupidity

For anyone who has missed him – which would be hard, given the sound of him offering calm, reassuring advice seems to have filled every TV and radio show simultaneously for over a week – the national clinical director of the Scottish Government has quickly proven to be a master of conveying the seriousness of the situation, while still providing clear, reassuring advice.

Most impressively, Leitch even appears to have developed a biological resistance to Piers Morgan’s stupidity – no mean feat – with the professor choosing to intervene in one of Morgan’s rants with the line, “I’m not sure where you got your masters in public health from, Piers”. A million cheers hit the nation’s TV sets.

So, Jason, should we be more worried today than we were yesterday? As he explained to The Nine: “No, you shouldn’t be more worried today than yesterday. We are getting criticised for not taking it seriously enough, and for scare-mongering, so the balance is hard to strike. We are following the science and people will have heard us talk in the last couple of days on social media and on media programmes about the curve.

“We are trying to move from the peak, to flatten that curve out. Unfortunately, this is hard messaging but we want the pandemic to last longer, because we want the health service to manage and for the vulnerable to be protected. We want it to stretch out for a longer period, and our science and our advisers tell us that the best way of doing that is through the right intervention at the right time. Today we decided those with symptoms should stay home, but we are not done. There is more to come.”

It was a very polished performance, and Leitch was right, more advice did come, meaning his marathon of TV appearances continued. But, watching the appearance really only served to raise further questions. Not least, why there is such a critical shortage of Jason Leitches?

If this was China, they’d probably have responded to coronavirus by building a super Jason Leitch by now, in record time. There would be a Jason Leitch patting you on the head – he would be wearing sterile gloves – as you read this.

A better prepared medical system would have one Jason Leitch for each household. Instead, despite the fact the issue has been on the agenda for months, the Scottish Government has been forced to concede it only has one, in a country of nearly six million.

Forget a lack of coups, the real questions Sturgeon should answer here relate to a lack of clones. A lack of Jason Leitch clones. And so parliament rumbles on, at least for now, though even if it does shut down for while it probably won’t be a huge problem. Jackson Carlaw can fictionalise the whole thing in a puppet show and we’ll just need to send in Jason Leitch to run things.

Read the most recent article written by Liam Kirkaldy - On pause: How coronavirus is hitting the hospitality sector

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