It was the collective 4 Nations approach that failed, and Scotland's role in that was quite complex - it would have been realistic for us to go our own way in some respects but not in others. There are four mistakes for which I think the Scottish Government can be legitimately criticised -
1) Not stopping large public gatherings earlier. They eventually took that step a few days earlier than England, so there's no question that they could and should have done it even earlier. The Lewis Capaldi concert should not have gone ahead, and neither should the Rangers v Leverkusen match or the Scotland v France Six Nations fixture.
2) Not closing schools earlier. Again, this is undoubtedly a devolved power and there was no good reason for remaining in lockstep with England for so long.
3) Abandoning testing and contact tracing at the same time as the UK government. Whatever the capacity issues, it should have been continued to the maximum extent possible.
4) Not issuing strong social distancing advice earlier. You don't need to have or use draconian powers to get people to listen to your advice when you suggest that they should stay away from each other as much as possible. That could really have made a telling difference, but instead, in those crucial days of mid-March, the leading Scottish Government spokesman was ludicrously advising people to increase their contact with vulnerable relatives, to go to mass gatherings, and boasting that he would do so himself.
Is it unfair of me to compare Leo Varadkar's brilliant line about "coming together as a nation by staying away from each other" with Jason Leitch touring the TV studios to say that schools should definitely stay open and that mass gatherings at the weekend were totally fine?— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) March 18, 2020
Yes. It is.— Jason Leitch (@jasonleitch) March 18, 2020
And make no mistake - Leitch didn't issue that irresponsible advice because he was unaware of how bad the situation was. He was quite open in a number of interviews that his objective was for the vast majority of the population to be infected (albeit in a managed way) to achieve population-wide immunity. That was unforgivably reckless, given how little was known about the virus at the time - not least how deadly it is and how long any immunity actually lasts after infection.
The Scottish epidemic was partly fuelled by a Nike conference on the 26th/27th February. Rather puts in perspective Jason Leitch irresponsibly advising people to go to mass gatherings as late as *mid-March*.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) May 11, 2020
"But...but...my Masters degree, Piers..."https://t.co/5pfD5Pu8MU
So, yes, the BBC had a point tonight - albeit only partly. But the BBC itself should be answering questions about one of its biggest-ever failures as a public service broadcaster. During the herd immunity episode, it wasn't probing the UK government about the plans to expose the bulk of the population to a deadly pathogen, it wasn't asking the obvious question: "you're going to do WHAT?" Instead, it merely acted as a dutiful relayer of the state's messaging, "explaining" to viewers what was going to happen to them - exactly as a state broadcaster would do in an authoritarian country.