But our leaders have to deal with the situation as it actually is, and not as we would like it to be. Countries all over the world have grappled for months with the problem of differential infection rates in different territories, and border controls have often proved to be an important tool in preventing the virus from spreading from a hotspot to a lower-intensity area. It's got nothing to do with politics, or ideology, or nationalism, or racism, or chauvinism. It's purely a question of public health.
In that context, a comment made two days ago by Scottish Tory MP Andrew Bowie about the mere possibility of restrictions at the Scotland/England border was close to being unforgivable.
"We are one nation. Scottish, English, Welsh, Northern Irish. We are in this together. Please stop this divisive, nasty talk of closing borders to 'others'."
He knew that was profoundly dishonest on multiple counts when he said it. The use of the word 'others' in inverted commas falsely implied that border restrictions would be motivated by prejudice based on nationality or ethnicity. In reality, the rules would apply to anyone crossing the border regardless of who they are - there would be no discrimination between Scottish people returning home and English people coming up for a visit. The freedoms of English people already in Scotland would be totally unaffected. Bowie is also well aware that the whole idea of asking travellers from England to quarantine is not something the SNP leadership would be instinctively keen on doing, precisely because they'd want to avoid hysterical suspicions in certain quarters about their motives. The fact that they're even considering it suggests that government advisers must be sending a very clear message that it may be necessary to save lives.
Bowie therefore had a choice. He could make it easier for the Scottish Government to save lives by assuming their good faith, or he could make it harder. He chose the latter course. Make no mistake - by saying what he did, it's not totally inconceivable that he may have prevented a vitally important public health measure from being implemented, and that people will die as a result. SNP politicians are human, and once the suggestion that a health intervention is xenophobic becomes normalised as part of political discourse, it does become psychologically more difficult for them to act. I truly hope they find the courage to completely set aside the disgraceful antics of their opponents and to take whatever steps are warranted by the scientific evidence.
Incidentally, it was pointed out on social media that the border has previously been closed since Scotland became part of the UK. It happened in 1950, to be exact, when the police were trying to recover the Stone of Destiny so it could be returned to Westminster Abbey. Odd how it's perfectly OK to compromise the sacred indivisibility of Our Precious Union in order to locate a symbol of subjugation, but it's apparently not OK to do it to keep thousands of people alive. British Nationalism 1, People 0.
This "Our One True Glorious United Kingdom" schtick is normally, at worst, mildly irritating and sometimes even entertaining. But when you get to the point where people are being asked to *die* for Andrew Bowie's nationalism...well, take a hike, Andrew.https://t.co/knHOPNvTyN— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) June 29, 2020
Why is your government "othering" the people of Leicester, @AndrewBowie_MP ? Are you hellbent on splitting Our Precious Indivisible Union into "Leicesterites" and "Norms"? We're all in this together, blah, blah, etc, etc.https://t.co/knHOPNvTyN— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) June 29, 2020
People who don't have coronavirus owe a duty to show solidarity with those who do have it by catching it themselves. After all, we're all in this together and so must all try to catch it. Last time I looked that's what "We're all in this together" means, Ms. Sturgeon.— David Halliday (@DavidJFHalliday) June 30, 2020
The only way we'll defeat this virus is by us all catching it as one United Kingdom.— David Halliday (@DavidJFHalliday) June 30, 2020
Remember that day? The day that the UK Gov closed the border between Scotland & England all because some pranksters stole an ancient stone? @AndrewBowie_MP @DavidMundellDCT @ScotTories pic.twitter.com/ZbvsWILCJx— Nicola's No1 Comrade (@no1_nicola) June 30, 2020