Oh stay home, all ye faithful

This is the text of my Scottish Daily Mail sketch of Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid-19 update to the Scottish Parliament on November 24, 2020. 

Christmas used to be such an innocent time. Saviours born in stables. Red-nosed reindeer pulling sleighs. Even if you got taken hostage by terrorists while collecting your estranged wife from the office Christmas party, you could take them all out single-handedly and patch up your marriage within 90 minutes.

This year, the three wise men would get done for travelling between tiers and Rudolph’s red nose would be added to the list of Covid symptoms as a precaution. So, if you were expecting Nicola Sturgeon to announce a great festive lockdown-easing, you might want to put away the eggnog now. Or tip in a couple more snifters of brandy. The message from the First Minister’s statement was: Oh stay home, all ye faithful.

‘Any easing of restrictions will be temporary,’ she told MSPs. ‘It will be limited. It will be accompanied by advice on the precautions that we should all take to minimise risk, and we will continue to ask people to err on the side of caution.’

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, but he’s self-isolating this year.

The First Minister continued: ‘Our overall advice will be for people to use any flexibility carefully and only if they believe it right and necessary for their personal circumstances.’

Christ is born, but keep it down.

I felt uneasy about loosening things up for Christmas, anyway. Jews got no special treatment for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur or Sukkot. Muslims just had to make do through Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, and even Chancellor Rishi Sunak has spoken about how ‘difficult’ Diwali was for Hindus this year. If everyone else got out of spending time with their extended families, I don’t see why Christians shouldn’t.

One of the most miserable aspects of handing monarchical powers to one woman in Bute House is how it turns the rest of us into little apple-polishers. Yes, Miss. No, Miss. Can I have three households round for Boxing Day, Miss?

Bruce Crawford, ordinarily an/the independent-minded SNP backbencher, even credited Sturgeon for placing his Stirling constituency in Tier 4.

He noted the ‘considerable disappointment’ in his area but, since the seven-day positivity rate had risen by 10 per 100,000, ‘I believe the decision was absolutely correct in order to save lives’. It was like watching that one goody-two-shoes in school who would ask the teacher for extra homework.

Fans of Michael Winner movies may recall his Death Wish series, which saw Charles Bronson stalk the streets of nocturnal New York bumping off bad guys the law was too soft to take on. The Highlands have their own Bronson in the shape of Ian Blackford, who apparently stalks the tweets of nocturnal Scotland seeking English interlopers.

After a photographer posted a breathtaking image of the Northern Lights over Caithness, Blackford rounded on the snapper (‘as you live in the south of England’) and demanded ‘a valid reason as to why you are posting a photo from the north of Scotland’.

Handwringing liberals protested that Blackford couldn’t possibly know where this cameraman lived, but the Lochaber Avenger believes in shooting first and issuing carefully-worded apologies later.

One such do-gooder was Alex Cole-Hamilton, who accused our Highland hero of ‘singling out and bullying a private citizen who had relocated here from England’ and asked Sturgeon: ‘Does she support vigilante action from her MPs like this?’

She doesn’t support her MPs voting without her instructions. Though, between this one and the one who took Covid with her on a cross-country busman’s holiday, who could blame her?

Still, a brave face and all that. ‘I suspect people watching have a myriad of things they want to hear addressed… I’m not sure that would have been at the top of the list,’ Sturgeon jabbed back.

Then came the hard part, when she had to say her man had apologised with ‘the grace and dignity I associate with Ian Blackford’. If I were grace and dignity, I’d instruct solicitors.

Originally published in the Scottish Daily Mail. Letters: scotletters@dailymail.co.uk.

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