The Times article is – unsurprisingly – carefully and negatively framed. No longer a ‘newspaper of record’ just, at least towards Scotland, a malign rag. However this scariness is all built around a big assumption that shop staff will be required by government to police adherence to the new face covering rule.

Can we assume that ‘retail chiefs’ want to open their shops? Surely, even The Times accepts the answer to this is ‘yes’. So what is the problem the journalist seeks to expose? Is the implication here that the Scottish Government is pushing ahead without consultation and against the wishes of ‘retail chiefs’? Well, this would appear NOT to be the case!


“With retailers permitted to re-open their stores from Monday 29 June the Scottish Retail Consortium, along with the Scottish Government and trade union Usdaw, have come together to launch five simple steps to encourage considerate shopping. They are urging the public to play their part in creating a safe and enjoyable retail environment for other customers and retail staff.”

At the same source, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work & Culture, is quoted saying: “I’d like to thank the Scottish Retail Consortium and Usdaw for working closely with us in producing official guidance on trading safely, and everyone in the sector for all that they are doing to ensure customers and staff can shop and work safely and with confidence.”

And finally, Stewart Forrest, Divisional Officer of shop workers’ union Usdaw, states: “Unfortunately the early part of the coronavirus crisis saw a rise in instances of abuse towards shop workers, and we are absolutely clear that ‘abuse is not part of the job’. Along with the SRC and Scottish Government we have collaborated to produce guidance for shops of all sizes and locations to provide staff and customers with a safe shopping experience.”

So who’s not being straight in their dealings here? Is the Scottish Retail Consortium conniving with The Times or being exploited (willingly or otherwise) by The Times for the latter’s anti-Scottish Government agenda. In Ms Hyslop’s position I’d want to ask very pointedly of the SRC representative what game the organisation is playing at next time we meet for a ‘co-operative’ purpose.

But then I’m glad I don’t have to deal with the kind of game playing towards the Scottish Government that seems all too common amongst advocacy organisations in Scotland nowadays..