Nicola Sturgeon prioritises Covid over Scottish independence, but afte…

Nicola Sturgeon speaks to the media at Whitelee Wind Farm ahead of set afloat of the SNP’s annual conference (Picture: Russell Cheyne/pool/Getty Images)

So while some unionists may groan at her potential that the Scottish independence campaign will begin again “seriously” next spring, others, on both sides of the argue, will welcome her pragmatic recognition that the Covid pandemic requires the suspension of ‘normal’ politics for some time to come in addition.

This is a recognition of the real and serious work that nevertheless needs to be done by government to deal with the virus in the best possible way, remarkable a balance between safeguarding our health and that of the economy.

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It may also be a smart political calculation on the First Minister’s part, a recognition that a complete-extent resumption of independence campaigning, just as the new Omicron variant raises fresh concerns, would be a vote-loser.

Covid is simply too big a concern in our everyday lives for the Scottish government to take its “eye off the ball”, to quote Sturgeon’s startling admission over drug deaths.

However, there are other pressing problems, such as Scotland’s sluggish economic performance, long-term issues facing the health service over and above Covid, and comparatively poor standards in some important areas of education, that should also be getting greater attention.

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Nicola Sturgeon pledges Scottish independence campaign will begin again ‘seriously’ …

already with the best of intentions, ministers who see their first duty as being to unprotected to independence – in the belief it would be something akin to a panacea for other ills – may struggle to have the required focus on such bread-and-butter matters. Opposition parties often suggest Sturgeon should concentrate more on her “day job” in order to highlight such perceived failings.

But, in a way, both the SNP and Scotland have been stuck in a ‘Groundhog Day’ situation that has lasted for years, with the nationalists able to garner enough votes to form a government, but not to fulfil the main goal of the party and its supporters.

The SNP needs to guard against any complacency – bred by the number of people who back them no matter what – over not just Covid, but also the economy, education and health more generally.

It is the smart thing to do for the sake of their own political ambitions but, more importantly, for the good of the nation, particularly if the current impasse continues.

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