Coronavirus: Scottish independence debate and party politics have no place in fight against Covid-19 – leader comment

Politicians must be careful not to let support for the Union or independence – or the perception of it – undermine measures designed to protect public health

Nicola Sturgeon pointed to other parts of the world where quarantines have been imposed within national boundaries to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus (Picture: Fraser Bremner/pool/Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon pointed to other parts of the world where quarantines have been imposed within national boundaries to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus (Picture: Fraser Bremner/pool/Getty Images)

Depending on your view, Nicola Sturgeon’s suggestion that people entering Scotland from England could be required to observe a period of quarantine is either a potential way to limit the spread of coronavirus or an unwarranted step designed to “drive a wedge” between the two countries.

The First Minister stressed she had “no plans” as yet for such a move, but pointed out such measures had been introduced in other parts of the world.

Scotland’s strategy was the total elimination of the virus, she added, while claiming the approach south of the Border might be “letting it circulate at higher levels” as long as it did not “overwhelm” the NHS.

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Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw countered that localised lockdowns could be used to deal with infection hotspots so there was no need to “close off Scotland from the rest of the UK”.

Most people listening to this debate will view it through the prism of the two politicians’ support for independence and the Union.

And that’s a problem. If our response to this deadly virus becomes a political issue, or even if this is perceived to be the case, supporters will start to take sides with measures designed to protect public health followed by some and scorned by others – as has been seen in other countries.

So politicians need to be careful, lest they give the public the wrong impression.

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