Douglas Chapman’s tweet, above, has drawn cringing resentment from Willie Rennie and Miles Briggs. They accuse him of dubious analysis, being tasteless and gloating.

I’d forgotten about the pair of them. They’ve been keeping a low profile. Rennie, of course, has been hiding away until the furore over his refusal to condemn the paedophile apologism of his old leader, David Steel, dies down. Briggs, sensibly, doesn’t want people thinking he might be connected in any way to his boss, Matt Hancock.

As for their attack on Chapman, what are the facts and what is it legitimate to say about them?

As in many reports here, Chapman’s purpose is clearly to attack the record of those Tory and Coalition governments responsible for wounding NHS England and not the poor souls now battling to cope with that legacy.

The coronavirus-related deaths in England are at least twice the level of those in Scotland. Once the English figures include all of those where it is mentioned on the death certificate, as well as just those from hospitals, the difference seems likely to be even greater.

Rennie describes this as tasteless. Does he really think we don’t know what he’d be saying if it was the other way round? If the death rate in Scotland was twice that of England, it would all over the Scottish media, there’d be shouted accusations in Holyrood and Rennie would be using it as evidence against independence at every opportunity and he’d get plenty of those.

Has Rennie forgotten the voting record of Lib Dem MPs in supporting austerity bills including the one to deny nurses a decent pay rise? Is it tasteless to remind folk of that now?

Rennie says the analysis is ‘dubious’ but we don’t hear any explanation as to why that might be. Does he think the death rates are not accurate? Does he think the A&E performances are not markedly different? Does he not believe there are 50 coronavirus assessment centres, unique to Scotland, diverting suspected cases away from GPs? All of these claims are easily authenticated.

As for Briggs, why does he think it is gloating to talk-up NHS Scotland? As with Rennie, he’d be quick to condemn if it was the other way round. Remember the gloating of his English colleagues and supporters such as former BBC Scotland, now Times writer, John Boothman, when Scottish drug deaths were revealed to be much higher than those in England?

The Herald finishes with:

‘It is thought population density partly explains the higher death rate in England.’

Only their own health correspondent thinks this. Central Scotland has one of the highest population densities in Europe and it is in those same areas where the lower mortality is based.

Footnote: I know Douglas follows this blog so I feel sure he can, if needed, quickly access the data to support his claim. Also, as you might expect in a tweet, he didn’t have space to raise the possibility of higher staffing in Scottish hospitals and in-house cleaning services creating cleaner environments, further contributing to the lower death rate here.