Nicola Sturgeon briefed the media on the Indian variant of Covid-19 on May 21, 2021. This is the text of my Scottish Daily Mail sketch of the press conference.
We may be slowly getting the better of coronavirus but there’s no vaccine as yet for the pandemic of political correctness sweeping the Western world.
At her Covid-19 media briefing – delivering such statements in parliament is for lesser mortals – Nicola Sturgeon made mention of the ‘so-called Indian variant of the virus’. However, she pledged that: ‘From now on, I’m going to refer to it as the April-02 variant’.
For the head of a government that transferred untested and even Covid-positive patients into care homes, where more than 3,000 residents would go on to die, the sensitivities of language are a questionable priority. I don’t mind the First Minister being woke but it would be nice if she was awake, too.
Still, now that ‘Indian variant’ is out, we can look forward to further commendable efforts to avoid offence.
Spanish flu will become ‘Siesta sniffles’, while German measles will be known as ‘Lederhosen lurgy’. Hollywood is expected to re-release 1979’s The China Syndrome under its new title, ‘Jane Fonda Disaster Movie Variant’.
Being woke isn’t as easy as it looks, mind. Within seconds of her bold proclamation on not linking variants to specific places – in fact, in the very next sentence – Sturgeon said: ‘In recent weeks, this variant has become quite established in many parts of the UK, including here in Scotland, and we have reason to believe that it might be more transmissible even than the Kent variant.’
I have never been so disappointed in the First Minister. The people of Maidstone shouldn’t have to put up with such thoughtless Kentophobia.
A slip of the tongue, no doubt, but perhaps telling from someone who has previously given the impression that England is a maskless, spluttering wretch, sending a thousand infected droplets northwards with every Sassenach sneeze.
One politician in particular might have used more tactful language when claiming (without evidence) that prevalence of the virus was five times lower in Scotland than in England and when telling English people not to come here to enjoy indoor hospitality.
Maybe Nicola Sturgeon could have a word with that politician.
Her wingman Humza Yousaf was by her side for his first Covid briefing as Health Secretary but it was 31 minutes before he even got a word in. People say the First Minister has no achievements to her name but getting Yousaf to keep quiet for half an hour will be a legacy all in itself.
When he did speak, it was only to second whatever the boss had just said or reiterate the importance of following the rules. Unless there’s an immigration enforcement decision you feel really strongly about.
As he will soon learn in his new brief, it’s Yousaf’s job to do all the thankless tasks behind the scenes and Sturgeon’s job to swoop in and take the credit.
He’ll get to front press conferences of his own, but only when there’s bad news needing broken or when the matter involved is below La Sturgeon’s pay grade. I’m not sure how he did it but Yousaf has managed to get himself promoted downwards.
Barely was the briefing finished than Anas Sarwar had fired off a statement in support of the First Minister’s progressive nomenclature. Despite these times of social distancing, Sarwar can’t seem to keep two metres away from whatever stance the SNP has just taken.
In backing up Sturgeon, the Scottish Labour leader recalled how ‘at the outset of the pandemic you had people referring to China’. It’s outrageous and about time someone called it out. The only people who think a virus from Wuhan has anything to do with China are bigots and geographers.
Oh, and after making such a fuss about it, Sturgeon proceeded to call ‘the April-02 variant’… the Indian variant. Twice. Someone’s not as woke as she thinks.
Originally published in the Scottish Daily Mail. Letters: scotletters [insert @ symbol] dailymail.co.uk.