Conor Matchett: Why young people are central to Nicola Sturgeon's next Covid move

The approach to Covid-19 restrictions as we approach what, despite the 2,000 cases per day in Scotland, is supposedly the end of the pandemic, differs dependent on which party is in charge.

Reports suggest the UK Government could be looking to reduce the gap between first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to four weeks.
Reports suggest the UK Government could be looking to reduce the gap between first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to four weeks.

Forgive the cynicism but Boris Johnson is too clever not to realise that the bulk of support for his Conservative party across the UK but in particular in England tends to be older, richer and more likely to be fully vaccinated.

It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the Prime Minister is keen to open up the English economy, relax restrictions and let all of his voters experience the freedom that they have been forced to have curtailed since March 2020.

For Nicola Sturgeon the situation is more nuanced.

Her SNP party has widespread support but the modern day party and the independence cause is also being driven by younger activists, most between 18 and 40.

In other words, younger, poorer, and the least likely to be fully vaccinated.

It is also a matter of fact that Ms Sturgeon is taking Scotland out of this pandemic more slowly than her English counterpart.

It could be that the First Minister’s natural caution is proving more of a driving force than the political calculation, but she, like Johnson, will be cognisant of the political impact of relaxation.

Young people are the most likely to work in hospitality and retail, the most likely to have been furloughed, and the most likely to have worked from home in small, cramped, over-priced, inadequate housing.

They are therefore among the most likely, other than healthcare staff, to come into contact with Covid-19.

It remains a fact that fewer than one in five of the under 30s is fully vaccinated.

For those between 30 and 39, that figure sits at just 28 per cent fully vaccinated and the overall pace of vaccination has slowed in Scotland.

However, young people are also the least likely to fall seriously ill and die.

It leaves the SNP leader between a rock and a hard place

Does she leave the young – those most likely to vote for her – to the viral wolves in favour of opening the economy or wait until all adult Scots are equally protected, a delay some businesses would not survive?

I am glad I am not the First Minister.

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