There are peculiar phenomena and peculiar phenomena.
Some have told me to get over this. Nobody is reading his stuff.
Well, OK, just this last time.
First, Smith writes:
There were unionists who hoped the virus would “bring the UK together” and historical precedents (most notably, the Second World War) appear to support them. Instead, exactly the opposite is happening. Wales is telling people from Liverpool to keep out. Scotland is telling people not to go to Blackpool. And now 58% of Scots say they want to get out of the UK altogether. The virus is proving to be anything but unifying.
Yes, because a war is not the same kind of precedent:
Evidence suggests that epidemics and pandemics can have significant social and political consequences, creating clashes between states and citizens, eroding state capacity, driving population displacement, and heightening social tension and discrimination. (Price-Smith, 2009)
Even where the demand for independence is less strong than in Scotland, the pandemic is causing stress within that most powerful of united nations, the USA:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued something very close to a declaration of independence for the largest U.S. state while speaking on MSNBC earlier this month. Noting that California has been forced in a position of “competing against other states, other nations, against our own government” for badly needed personal protective equipment to fight the coronavirus, Newsom vowed to “use the purchasing power of the state of California as a nation-state” to acquire the needed supplies.
California is often compared to other countries—it would have the world’s fifth largest GDP if it were independent—but Newsom’s statement took on new meaning in the context of the escalating tensions between state governments and the Trump administration over the response to COVID-19. States have been forced to work around the federal government to access supplies and coordinate plans. Some states are reopening their economies ahead of schedule, also in defiance of the White House, while others are banding together into regional alliances to coordinate their eventual reopening. President Donald Trump may claim that he has “absolute authority” when it comes to U.S. pandemic response, but right now the country looks more like a patchwork of occasionally overlapping regional responses.
Smith goes on to say:
The polls in Scotland also seem to defy logic in other significant ways. Nicola Sturgeon is in the depths of a crisis that centres on the Salmond inquiry and normally she’d be in serious trouble. And yet, right in the middle of the school exams debacle, a YouGov poll registered SNP support at 57% in the constituency vote.
Support remained high for the obvious reason. The public did not believe in the media-constructed ‘exams debacle‘. They understood that these were exceptional times, saw the news from England and believed the SNP leadership had done its best. Not everyone lives inside the media bubble, Mark. You need to get out more. Speak to more parents and weans.
Finally, Smith writes:
Some people would say the support for Sturgeon, and independence, is because of the way the First Minister has handled coronavirus and she’s certainly presented her case better than the PM – but then Sooty and Sweep could handle a press conference better than Boris Johnson. In every other respect however, the First Minister has made broadly the same decisions, and cock-ups, as the UK Government. And yet Sturgeon’s satisfaction rating is in the 70s.
The First Minister has not made ‘broadly the same decisions, and cock-ups, as the UK Government.’ The far lower infection and death rates are real. Stricter lock-downs, better test and tracing (hard evidence for all available) and better messaging have worked and, watch this space, are about to work again in the next few days and weeks.
Price-Smith A T. 2009. Contagion and Chaos: Disease, Ecology, and National Security in the Era of Globalization. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.