There is host of differences between Scotland and England when it comes to dealing with Covid. Let’s look at a few of them.


Nicola has been justly praised for her communication. Throughout the crisis her message has been clear, her early commitment to explaining the thinking behind the decisions has been well received and has led to widespread public support for most of the measures that have been introduced. Jeanne Freeman has also been very effective.

In England the communication errors would be high up the list of Government failures. Messaging has been confused, the public have lost faith in the politicians and that has led to the explosion in infection levels. Now that crisis point has arrived, the UK Government have finally appointed a head communicator to take over the messaging. The good news for her is she can hardly do worse.


The NHS in Scotland never faced the shortages that were widespread in England. In Scotland the SNP government recognised the problem from the start and appointed Ivan McKee MSP to source what the Scottish NHS needed. Ivan was a very experienced and successful businessman before he entered Parliament. He secured what the Scottish NHS needed, including putting in place Scottish sourced supply chains convincing some Scottish businesses to change their production cycles and product ranges to allow production for the Scottish NHS. Secured with long term contracts it helps secure a more robust procurement system for Scotland.

In England it was chaos. The TORIES a couple of years previously had privatised purchasing for the NHS. The key “cost savings” identified was getting rid of the warehousing where NHS stocks were held and moving to a “just in time model” which is common in other manufacturing business. This system is designed for easily forecast demand in repetitive industries. It was madness to think it would work in the public health field where demand is not so forecastable even in normal times and completely useless when a pandemic strikes. The result was there were desperate shortages of PPE and ill equipped staff were left in the frontline minus the effective PPE to keep them safe. This resulted in many unnecessary deaths amongst doctors and nurses in those early weeks of the crisis.

In a panic the Government sought to secure PPE from anywhere in the World. Much of the product purchased was useless and below spec. Huge sums of money was spent without any safeguards and due diligence. Competitive tendering went out the window. The only part of the process that worked well was making sure huge contracts were handed to companies that were close to the Tory Party and were donors. Even when they had no experience of supplying the products the contracts called for. It is happening to this day, earlier this week this blog highlighted a contract to a 45 day old company for goods costing £122 million to people well known as Tory donors.


In Scotland it is controlled by the public sector through the Scottish NHS. A big expansion of track and tracers but built onto existing teams that were experienced and knowledgeable of what was needed. Thus far, even with the increased numbers following the rise in new infections, it has worked well and is making a significant contribution to dealing with the spike in new infections. It still has the capacity to expand the system if necessary.

In England it has been a disaster. Against all expert advice, the UK Government decided to reject investing in the existing local authority and health team tracking systems and privatised the whole programme to Serco. A few weeks later, as reports came in that it was not working very well and the people involved could only handle the simple cases, having to hand over any complex problems to the cash starved public sector, the Government discovered that the “World beating track and trace system” that Boris had been boasting about had in fact been subcontracted to a multitude of other companies by Serco. This of course ensured nobody could say with any authority what had and was going wrong. Worse, the Government had permitted all those private companies to use the NHS label, doing enormous reputation damage to the brand.

The UK Government entered its usual period of denial until in the last forty eight hours when they have announced they are now going to properly fund public sector track and trace on a local authority basis. This is of course what they should have done from the start. This is not being said in hindsight I wrote about this being the most effective route from the start having read a very convincing article in Private Eye about not going the Serco route.

So let nobody tell you there is no difference between Scotland and England, there is and the statistics back it up. Devolution has saved many Scottish lives. Independence would have saved more. With Independence Scotland would have held the power to close our borders. We suffered a huge unnecessary rise in reinfection due to our border remaining open during the English holiday season. There is no doubt that contributed to the recent spike in cases.

I regret I find it necessary to severely criticise the SNP on a range of internal matters but on the Covid 19 crisis we are very lucky to have them in charge and they have done a good job despite the lack of powers to do more. So it’s certainly a big thank you from me.

I am, as always


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  1. I am not so sure that Tsar Nicola has done as good a job as she casts herself to have done.

    Yes she comes across well. The daily stage performance is designed to do that.

    But look under the surface. In the case of track and test there is now concern about the programme where it seems that collecting personal data is more important than test results.

    And why do I sat that. Well if you take a test and then phone up using the Test Receipt Card to receive the result they will tell you they can give you the result. But if you decline to provide personal data like name, date if birth, sex, ethnicity, address, post code, phone number, mobile, email then you can’t have the yes or no result.

    That a lot of people have railed at the data collection the non issue of a test result in the midst of a so called health emergency.

    And then there is the track and trace App where Nicola used the SNP membership and supporter list to write to every member and supporter to ask them to download the app from her correspondence .

    Maybe well intentioned you may say, but there has to be concerns, and there is, about how how the First Minister, or departments of government can have access to, and make use of what is private data.

    Or what of the Scottish Police Federation who have advised their 17,000 members not to download the track and trace App. For their members health you realise, but wiser heads night discern the reality is concern about the more sinister side of tracking people’s movement and whereabouts.

    But yes Nicola has done a superb job on Covid. She’s a real democrat her and her husband and her inner circle.

    No doubt we can next look forward to the National Entitlement Cards that Jeanne Freeman’s health ministry apparently have well advanced.

    These smart cards, Pass Cards in fact will it seems be the key to people being able to access public spaces, travel on public transport, or access setvices. A veritable Pass Card and all for public health reasons.

    Maybe the First Minister could advise on progress – or if she thinks Alex Salmond would be entitled to a pass to allow him into a public space.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely disagree about citizen entitlement cards. The way to make them safe is not to elect any Government that would misuse them, not deny people the many benefits they bring. Impossible to do in the Uk But perfectly possible in an Independent Scotland.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. An independent Scotland would have it’s own fiat currency and the ability to allocate more resource to tackling Covid as well as closing borders. This would have given us more policy choices in pandemic preparedness and response.

    The testing part of track and trace seems to be at least partly tied into the UK Serco system. It’s not clear that we could disconnect from this and build more independent capacity without the finance to pay for it which is currently the “gift” of Westminster.

    Our covid response has been limited by the union that binds the purse strings.

    Independence would have allowed options like mass testing programmes seen elsewhere. Testing whole communities to find the asymptomatic. Lockdowns with adequate financial compensation for affected workers and businesses.

    Economic independence is a necessity or we will continue to be played as fools by Westminster.

    Only today we have reports from the usual union think-tank, the IFS, warning us of the impending doom of debt and subsequent austerity. They neglect to mention that under the last 10 years of austerity the government debt has increased dramatically. Austerity has been proven not to work but the Tories now want to repeat the failure. This is what awaits if we don’t extracate ourselves. Labour simply nod and repeat the “balance the books” mantra.

    A vast amount of government debt has been created since 2008/9 to bail out and drip feed corporate welfare to financial markets at the expense of it’s citizens and local services who bore the cost of austerity. Austerity widens inequality between us, those who have assets and those that don’t. It’s a nice wheeze where government “spend” money to artificially maintain the “free” market price of bonds while telling the rest of us that there is no money left to spend on the welfare of citizens. Their idea of social welfare is to create a market for food banks.

    The Bond markets are on Covid ventilators that pump money rather than air. The entirety of the UK fiscal response to covid has so far been financed entirely by the Bank of England’s quantative easing program. The recent September OBR statement says just that. QE as it’s know is an illusion, an accounting trick to make us believe that it is debt. The government’s agent, the central bank, creates money (reserves) which it uses to purchase bonds on the open market. These bonds are then shown as assets on the central bank’s account and a liability on the government account. We are expected to swallow the myth that the BoE is independent from the treasury.

    The BoE has bought back almost as many government bonds as it has sold new ones. No “taxpayers” money whatsoever has been used. Where did the money come from? The BoE digital printing press. Very nearly half of the overall UK debt is now owned by the BoE. Since the BoE is “independent” of HM treasury, then technically HM treasury is in its debt. We have the ludicrous situation where HM Treasury is supposedly reimbursing it’s own bank, which creates it’s own money whenever it wants, by paying interest on the government bonds it holds on our behalf! Half the UK debt is not real debt in any sensible interpretation. i.e it’s money our left hand owes our right.

    But as sure as eggs are eggs, it will be portrayed as the taxpayers liability. It will be our moral duty to pay off the covid debt by taking another dose of austerity whilst clapping for the NHS.

    Now the BoE is not the only one playing this game. The Federal reserve in the US and the Bank of Japan in particular have been doing the same on a much larger scale. The BoJ has been doing it for 20 odd years. It is a tool it uses to control interest rates at a very low even negative rate. When rates are negative the bond holder pays the issuer interest so that the technical debt owed by the government reduces.

    This policy is not going to stop. Every time a central bank signals that QE is over the markets wobble. They are QE junkies. Free cash to inject into their veins, why would they give it up? While QE is around government deficits are not going to decrease. A grown up conversation on national debt is required. No amount of austerity is going to reduce the debt. Economists know this.

    We need politicians to understand how QE works and to call it out for what it is. A monetary policy tool that manipulates bond markets for the central bank’s own interests and is not debt that needs to be worried about. In political discourse the “real” debt should be distinguished from notional debt. Why can’t anti austerity politicians get their head around this and start a national narrative about what is the national debt? Because the national debt is a good thing. It is money the government has not taxed and left in the system to form our wealth.

    As long as we have to remain in this union we need politicians to challenge austerity policies on economic grounds. It’s the economy stupid!

    Much of the UK debt includes National savings and income bonds as well as government bonds in which pension funds invest huge amounts for our future. If we paid off the national debt we would deprive ourselves of the opportunity to place safe investments with the lender of last resort.

    An independent Scotland with its own currency and central bank could afford to pay for Covid. One that borrowed money in another countries currency could not. Sterlingisation would be a disaster. We would end up owing large sterling debts that we could not repay because we would not have the ability to issue Sterling. That is real debt. BoE has the printing press and won’t be sharing it!

    The Scottish government needs to wake up and see that independence without our own currency is not real independence at all. We need SNP politicians to start making the case for a Scottish currency. Apart from Angus MacNeil I don’t hear any.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In England medical staff were using waste paper bin bags over their heads due to the lack of PPE, Johnson claimed a large supply was brought in from abroad, what he failed to mention was that much of it was cleaning equipment such as mops etc.

    Here we see hard working English doctors and nurses wearing bags over their heads.

    On this level Scotland has performed much better in securing PPE, though listening to and reading the British nationalist media, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Scottish government had failed miserably in that particular department.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. And they used Prestwick, our publicly owned airport, to freight in the PPE which initially had to be bought from abroad because there was no UK system in place for supplying it.

    Liked by 1 person

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