Analysis: How Jackson Carlaw has been holed below waterline by Dominic Cummings

Jackson Carlaw has been in a state of outrage for the past few weeks.

Jackson Carlaw's intergrity has been undermined by his decision not to criticise Dominic Cummings.

He has been outraged about the lack of testing of care home staff and residents in Scotland, outraged about the former Chief Medical Officer’s trips to her holiday home, outraged about “a cover up” over the Nike conference coronavirus outbreak. He has accused the Scottish Government of a lack of transparency, of secrecy, of “making mistakes” in its whole approach to dealing the pandemic.

For many he was doing the job of the leader of the opposition, holding Nicola Sturgeon to account, and doing it well.

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Tomorrow it’s First Minister’s Questions and viewers looking for more of the same are likely to be disappointed. For Mr Carlaw’s credibility, integrity and his ability to hold the Scottish Government to scrutiny, has been fatally undermined by his distinct lack of outrage over the actions of Dominic Cummings.

He has been holed below the waterline by the Prime Minister’s advisor and Jackson Carlaw must now be sinking into the kind of despair, usually all too often experienced by Scottish Labour leaders, seeing those in Westminster carry on regardless of the impact it has in the devolved nations.

Worse, he has now seen his former Holyrood colleague and now MP, Douglas Ross resign as a Scottish Office minister over the “trouble” with Dominic Cummings’ statement yesterday, which apparently explained his actions, but left many open-mouthed at a lack of insight and empathy with the hardships suffered by the vast majority of people over the last three months. Indeed, in an a time of unprecedented events, the preposterouness in the Rose Garden has crowned them all.

Mr Ross’s resignation has now been publicly backed by Adam Tomkins and Donald Cameron, both of whom sits in Mr Carlaw’s shadow cabinet in the Scottish Parliament. Murdo Fraser, another long-serving colleague, has told his constituents he has made it clear to the Prime Minister, and undoubtedly Mr Carlaw, of his belief that Cummings should go.

Other Scots Tory MSPs have told Mr Carlaw of their own outrage at Cummings breaking of lockdown guidelines and that of their constituents. Their email inboxes are overflowing, as must his be, and yet he has made no acknowledgement of this anger. As a result his leadership and his judgement is being questioned.

Yet it could have been so different. The Cummings row was an open goal for Mr Carlaw to mark himself out as a Scots Tory leader who would not bow to the line from Downing Street, who could take the temperature of the public and reflect that anger and discontent, and who know, maybe even win plaudits from those generally reluctant to believe anyone in Scotland even votes Conservative.

But tomorrow, he will be neutered. He cannot stand and demand answers from Nicola Sturgeon about the easing of lockdown or the spread of this virus, or condemn her for a lack of testing when he has not stood up to condemn the actions of Dominic Cummings. He cannot explain why it was right for Dr Catherine Calderwood to go, but not Dominic Cummings. Well not with any hope of not being laughed out the chamber.

He is up the creek without a paddle and there will be no lifeboat sent from Downing Street.

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