First Minister did undermine 4 Nations approach with good reason

Reporting Scotland at their worst tonight, finding an opportunity to headline a passing comment in Dominic Cumming’s demolition of the UK Government’s pandemic response, out of context and without any explanation.

Why did the FM give up on the flawed 4 Nations Approach? Obviously, as Cummings made clear it was dysfunctional with an insane herd immunity theory and a PM distracted by trivia but also Scotland had limited influence on decisions.

See this from the Guardian in April 2020:

At a briefing in Edinburgh, Sturgeon said the exclusion of scientists from the devolved administrations from Sage had prompted her to set up her own panel of advisers. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments do not have full membership of Sage.

Sturgeon said she felt some time ago this policy meant she was unable to directly question or test the scientific and technical advice being presented, undermining her ability to find the right policies for Scotland.

That situation improved, she said, when she appointed Prof Andrew Morris, a Sage member and a medical data scientist at the University of Edinburgh, to lead a Scottish science advisory group that reports directly to her. Morriswas formerly the part-time chief scientific adviser to the Scottish government’s health department.

“We now have a situation where the chair of the advisory group here in Scotland does participate fully in Sage, and that has helped to, I think, deal with a deficiency that I certainly felt was there at the outset,” Sturgeon said during her daily coronavirus briefing.

11 thoughts on “First Minister did undermine 4 Nations approach with good reason

    1. Completely agree. Professor Sirdhar was excellent, stating that: (i) SG moved to establish its own expert advisory committee; (ii) membership and minutes of this SG committee made public; (iii) SG did not have powers to close external borders – now widely accepted as a critical factor (I well recall Scottish Tory outrage at any suggestion of restricting movement into northern England); (iv) SG did not have the financial powers to enact what it might have wished to do, when.

      In general, she stated (in terms) that the SG did as best as it could whilst operating with one hand tied behind its back! When listening I thought: Better together?

      Notably, in the section of the HoC committee meeting I watched, both Cummings and committee members present at that time appeared to accept uncritically that discharge, without testing, from hospitals to care homes was the crucial element in causing high care home deaths. Regular visitors to this site have evidence that the issue is rather more complex.

      Liked by 6 people

      1. Reporting Scotland in their early evening report on this part of Cumming’s testimony read out a statement from the FM. Strangely could not find it on their web site but the Herald had this statement which as usual was at the very end of the article:
        Quote “”A spokesperson for the First Minister said: “If even half of the shambolic picture Dominic Cummings has painted of The Tories’ chaotic response to the pandemic is true then it proves the First Minister was absolutely right to take the initiative to help keep people safe.” End Quote.

        It is worth remembering that the First Minister was Health Secretary in 2009 during the Swine Flu epidemic therefore she was the only one in the room with experience of dealing with this sort of situation and as such well able to judge for herself the quality, or lack thereof, of the advice and the proposed approach she heard in that room concerning the 4 nation approach. Perhaps this experience with the previous epidemic also explains why she broke ranks and banned large gatherings back in mid-March when race meetings etc were going ahead down south.

        No wonder she left that room and almost immediately set up her own Scientific Advisory Group.

        Liked by 8 people

      2. I should have noted that in her response on C4 News, Professor Sirdhar stated (in terms) that the SG had established its own expert advisory panel because it had not been not satisfied with the access/engagement it was able to have with SAGE.

        What I take this to mean is that up to this point in time, SAGE was its source of scientific advice and as a consequence, the SG’s approach initially was aligned with the UK-wide, SAGE proposed one. Once its own advisory panel was established, some divergence in the SG’s approach – albeit constrained by devolved powers – occurred.

        Liked by 6 people

    2. The trope that “Scotland has done no better than the rest of the UK” has been trotted out regularly by the media (including ‘Source’) and opposition politicians since the middle of 2020. It was even deployed today of ‘Mornings’ by Stephen Jardine, when a former member of the Highlands Health Board endorsed the statement regarding emergency planning made by Mr Dominic Cummings regarding the disastrous consequences of changes made by the Tories, when he also stated that he thought the FM had handled things very well.

      Guru-Murthy often blusters this ‘just as bad’ as if it were a proven fact.


      1. Alasdair,
        I had the feeling when watching the interview with Prof Sridhar last night that Krishnan made that assertion about Scotland not having a better outcome to give the Professor an opportunity to rebut that claim. She did, giving it both barrels.

        He has interviewed her a number of times and on occasion at some length so is well aware that she does not shirk from stating it as she sees it. What she said about Scotland’s position probably came as a surprise to many because it so rarely gets an airing on MSM especially in such a concise yet comprehensive manner.


  1. Less people died in Scotland on average, than in the rest of the UK. The Scottish Gov strategy saved more lives. Most people followed the clear guidelines to keep others safe. Then everyone who could die was vaccinated.

    Cummings was part of the problem of dysfunctional government. The Westminster Gov was unprepared despite warning. They were concentrating on Brexit. A total mess and shambles.

    Liked by 1 person

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