Anyone fed up being treated by government like a tearaway caught scrumping apples without a face mask, look away now.
After weeks of being cajoled, then scolded, then threatened into doing as we were told, yesterday brought the punishment.
In a TV broadcast last night, Boris Johnson outlined harsher restrictions on free movement and assembly. In Scotland, he was followed by Nicola Sturgeon, who did the same thing but with a Saltire behind her.
Earlier at Holyrood, the SNP leader had insisted that these measures were ‘not a lockdown’. Rather, ‘they are carefully targeted at key sources of transmission’. Ronnie Biggs didn’t rob trains. He carefully targeted swag bags at key sources of locomotive loot.
First up, pubs would have to call last orders for ten o’clock every night, in line with the Prime Minister’s announcement for England.
If you missed it, we are back to the four-nations strategy again. Or, rather, the First Minister needs the cash to keep flowing from the Treasury if her lockdown rules are to remain in place.
The quarantine Nationalists dream of setting up at the Border applies to English people, not English money.
‘Now, people sometimes ask me why we don’t just close pubs again altogether,’ the First Minister mused, ‘and I understand that sentiment’. There speaks a woman who’s visited a Wetherspoons.
Restrictions in the home were more severe still, with a nationwide interdict on mingling with other households. The Lib Dems’ Mike Rumbles sputtered to life, railing that ‘for the state to say that people cannot meet their family at home but can meet in the pub is simply wrong’.
‘I suspect that he is much more of the libertarian view that we should let people live normally and let the virus take its course,’ the SNP leader replied, coldly.
‘This is outrageous!’ Rumbles roared.
The First Minister broke off in a rare moment of humility. ‘I apologise to Mike Rumbles. Perhaps I was a bit intemperate. I did not mean to offend him in that way. I hope that he will accept that. I was being generalist and I should not have been. I apologise to him for that.’
Most people wait a lifetime for an apology from Nicola Sturgeon. Rumbles got two in ten seconds. Later, as she swept from the chamber, she paused to apologise to him again, clutching her hand to her chest.
At least Rumbles put up some resistance; many of the other questions were head-nods given verbal form.
The First Minister essayed a sympathetic tone when addressing the yoof: ‘Let me say to teenagers, in particular, that I know how miserable this is for you and I am so grateful for your patience.’
They’re teenagers. They love being miserable. If you let them do whatever they wanted, they’d be miserable about not getting to feel miserable.
Further attempts at empathy didn’t go down much better. ‘We are all struggling with this – believe me, we are all struggling,’ she intoned. No doubt, but most of us aren’t doing our struggling in the historical townhouse of the fourth Marquess of Bute.
‘We cannot and must not be complacent about Covid,’ she pronounced. ‘It kills too many old and vulnerable people.’ Of course, there are some in her party who consider that sort of thing a ‘net gain’ in Yes-voters.
Sturgeon feels the need to mewl like this because Covid-19 has given her immense powers over everyone’s daily lives and she fears the public will sour on her if she doesn’t make a song and dance about how she’s doing it tough like the rest of us.
The ‘decisions that we all make as individuals’, we were told, would decide whether the new restrictions were effective. This the First Minister held up as proof that ‘we are not powerless against this virus’. That’s why pubs aren’t allowed to use the volume button on their TVs and we can’t give neighbours a lift to Tesco. Because we’ve got the virus right where we want it.
For all the infantilising of the public, it was Sturgeon and Johnson who looked small and helpless and, yes, a little scared last night. Mummy and Daddy haven’t the faintest clue what to do next and sooner or later the children are going to figure that out.
Originally published in the Scottish Daily Mail. Letters: firstname.lastname@example.org. Feature images © UK Government by Creative Commons 2.0, flipped horizontally, and © Scottish Government by Creative Commons 2.0, flipped horizontally; collaged.