Nicola Sturgeon branded a ‘power mad Covid queen’
Tom Harris, Glasgow South’s former Labour MP, accused Scotland’s First Minister of keeping restrictions in place for longer than in England – in a “relentless” effort to define her decisions against those of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He claimed Ms Sturgeon enjoys “crowing” about how “superior” her own judgement is, but research by the Financial Times and YouGov highlighted how “the extra pain” inflicted on Scots made “almost no discernible difference” to the death toll during the Delta and Omicron waves.
This was in spite of extended mask mandates, longer lockdowns and tougher social distancing measures in Scotland.
The FT analysis of data compiled by YouGov suggested Ms Sturgeon’s more cautious approach had a significant impact on public behaviour last year.
It showed this was particularly evident in the months after Mr Johnson declared July 19 coronavirus “freedom day” and lifted the legal requirements for face coverings in public places in England.
A day before Mr Johnson scrapped most of England’s Covid rules, Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “To talk of tomorrow as ‘freedom day’ (England only remember) is not sensible IMO [in my opinion] given current situation.”
Labour MP Tom Harris accuses Nicola Sturgeon of ‘politicking’.
Boris Johnson wearing a face covering during a visit to Carlisle.
Mr Harris slammed the reference to “England only” as “snide”, saying it spoke volumes about Ms Sturgeon’s approach to the pandemic.
His comments appeared in MailOnline, in a piece titled “Nicola Sturgeon shamelessly exploited Covid in her war for independence. Oh, the irony… after her militant curbs, the Scots fared worse than England.”
Mr Harris suggested Mr Johnson’s “insistence” on public freedom during the past year did no harm.
He added: “But perhaps that never mattered to Sturgeon. After all, the main design of her heavy-handed response — as always with the SNP — was to foment division between Scotland and England.
READ MORE ABOUT NICOLA STURGEON’S ‘NATIONAL SHAME’ LAID BARE
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish Parliament.
“Instead of prioritising her nation’s ailing businesses, the only ‘Freedom’ over which Sturgeon obsessed during the pandemic was the one that would leave her and her party free to run Scotland as their eternal fiefdom.”
He described the cost of Ms Sturgeon’s strategy to Scotland’s economy as “devastating”, adding that non-Covid related healthcare has “all but collapsed”.
As evidence, Mr Harris pointed to a 2021 LSE study showing Scottish children falling behind their English peers.
He claimed: “And all this, it would seem, as a result of Sturgeon’s politicking.”
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The cost of independence for Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon recently announced that the wearing of face masks in schools is to be removed at the end of February.
However, some politicians north of the border say the Scottish Government is not minded to match the swift removal of restrictions seen in England.
Mr Johnson announced last week that he intended to scrap self-isolation later this month as long as “encouraging trends” in the data continue.
This week, Northern Ireland said the requirement for people to wear face coverings in shops and on public transport has been removed while Covid certificates are no longer needed to gain entry to nightclubs and large indoor unseated events.
Staff at University Hospital Monklands attend to a Covid-positive patient on the ICU ward.
Businesses will also no longer be required to undertake coronavirus-linked risk assessments or collect track and trace details from customers.
In Wales, the use of vaccine passports as a condition of entry for indoor and outdoor events will be scrapped from Friday.
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser, writing in The Scotsman, described Scotland as an outlier in keeping restrictions as the rest of the UK opens up.
He claimed: “Throughout the pandemic, Scotland has seemed not to have its own Covid policies – merely England’s ratcheted up a couple of notches to suggest the First Minister cares more.”
Mr Fraser warned that the longer restrictions remain, the greater the risk of wider harms to Scotland’s businesses, health conditions and the nation’s mental health.
The SNP has been approached for comment.