Analysis: Nicola Sturgeon has tough questions to answer after MP report

The cross-party report into the UK Government’s handling of Covid-19 poses difficult questions for Nicola Sturgeon ahead of a public inquiry.

MPs concluded that the UK Government’s approach to the virus, one dedicated to containing and delaying the spread of Covid-19 initially, was deliberate and, critically, “wrong”.

There are other damning conclusions in the 150 page document, compiled following months of testimony to Westminster committees and it is worth reading in full.

From a Scottish perspective, it is imperative to avoid the rewriting of history around how the Scottish Government handled the early stages of the pandemic.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, pictured in Holyrood in March 2021

It would not be unfair to say that the vast majority of the major policy decisions made between January 2020 and April 2020 by the Scottish Government were the same as the UK Government.

Nicola Sturgeon and her aides may well provide the defence of ‘following the science’ as Boris Johnson might, but there is a legitimate question as to whether they pushed back on the “groupthink” hard enough.

In fact, the same criticisms levelled at the Conservative government apply to the SNP government.

On care homes, the report concludes that social care was not a priority and did not have a loud enough voice and that discharges from hospitals into care homes led to deaths and were a failure.

It goes without saying the same charge applies to Scotland.

The First Minister has a duty to answer questions on why Scotland did not lock down earlier, why social distancing and self-isolation was not recommended earlier, why testing was not up to scratch and why contact tracing was all but abandoned.

The central conclusion of the report on the delay to lockdown, described as ranking as “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced”, applies to Scotland as much to England.

It is incumbent, therefore, on the Scottish Government to fully engage with the difficult questions the report poses and supply a meaningful response now.

Avoiding this in favour of delaying the day of reckoning to the conclusions of either a Holyrood inquiry or the public inquiry should rightly be judged as a bid to evade to avoid legitimate scrutiny on the government’s biggest public health failures.

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