A few weeks ago he indignantly informed us that Nicola Sturgeon had made a terrible mistake by urging people to wear face coverings. His reason for worrying (and I'm not making this up) is that he thought she would probably succeed in persuading people to wear face coverings, which he just knew would be harmful because he, Mark Smith, world-renowned armchair expert on respiratory infections and behavioural psychology, couldn't see the point of a scarf over the mouth and thought it would probably give people a false sense of security. He also fatuously added that: "As a result of the First Minster’s pronouncement, more people are going to start wearing masks. At best, it will be a waste of time; at worst, it could increase the spread of the virus."
Hmmm. Alternatively, Mark, the best-case scenario is that the scientific advice heeded by the First Minister is right and that face coverings will slow the spread of infection. I've heard of journalistic conceit, but it really takes the biscuit for a columnist to completely exclude the possibility, even as a best-case scenario, that his own hunches are wrong and that the expert science is right.
Then there was Smith's reaction to the controversy over remarks on BBC evening news programmes by his namesake Sarah Smith -
"She is expressing an opinion. And perhaps, when she hears the opinion, the First Minister could try to be a little less touchy."
You see, Mark, personal opinions are things that newspaper columnists like yourself are allowed to express. Not so much BBC correspondents when they're speaking to millions of viewers live on air. Sarah Smith's role is to report facts and offer politically impartial analysis. Characterising what she said as an "opinion" means, whether you realise it or not, that you're saying the criticisms of Ms Smith were extremely well-founded. As for the First Minister being "touchy", I'd suggest most reasonable people would conclude that her riposte was remarkably restrained given that the "opinion" was illegitimately expressed and impugned her own integrity. She also magnanimously declared the matter closed after a grudging apology that was only made on social media, where it received a fraction of the audience of the original remark.
But it's not just Nicola Sturgeon that Mr Smith feels the need to periodically admonish (in sorrow more than in anger, you understand). Earlier in the crisis, he had this rebuke for the "nationalist" hordes -
"A message for nationalists: do not make the virus about Scotland v England - it demeans you."
Quite so. By contrast, British nationalists who make the virus about "one United Kingdom moving forward together" are doubtless elevating themselves to a higher plane of existence.
Which brings me neatly onto Smith's already notorious new column that outrageously claims "nationalists" and lefties are "in love with lockdown". He moronically portrays left-wingers as authoritarians who revel in strong-man leadership (you can tell he's just dying to trot out the stock Fox News line of "remember Hitler was a National Socialist, folks!"), and right-wingers as lovers of liberty. As I've noted before, this is a faux libertarianism - or rather it's libertarianism for pathogens rather than people. There's no 'personal freedom' in pointlessly ending up in an intensive care unit.
There's a trademark Smith moment of unintended comedy midway through the column when he notes that right-wingers who flout the lockdown are putting themselves at risk, and claims that this proves that they cannot possibly be motivated by selfishness. Yes, of course, Mark, they're nobly sacrificing themselves for the good of the economy. Alternatively, it might just be that as 'rugged individualists' they have no sense of social responsibility whatsoever (there's "no such thing as society", after all), and don't much care who they infect as long as they're convinced - perhaps wrongly - that their own personal risk is reasonably low.
Curiously, Smith once again lambasts Cybernats for playing up differences between Scotland and England which he says don't really exist. That would have been a much better line three months ago, because the divergence between the two nations is now demonstrably enormous. England is opening up schools and non-essential shops, Scotland isn't. England allows unlimited travel, Scotland is urging people to stay within five miles of home. England has relaxed the shielding of vulnerable people, Scotland has not.
Smith thinks it was absurd that "nationalists" criticised Boris Johnson in early May for the first steps towards easing lockdown, when Scotland took similar steps only a "little later". Seriously? Three weeks is a "little"? In a pandemic, three weeks is an eternity.