Sunday Column: Did the SNP put Aberdeen in lockdown to distract from the SQA fiasco?

Politic Mag

By Derek W Gardiner

On Wednesday, Aberdeen was unexpectedly put back into lockdown after a cluster of 60 cases was found at the Hawthorn bar on Holburn Street. Hospitality outlets, which had only been allowed to open three weeks ago, were told they had just four hours to shut their doors for maybe a week but just as long as Nicola decides. There doesn't seem to be any good justification for this lockdown, the local NHS is in no danger of being overwhelmed, there are still no deaths being recorded every day and hospital and ICU admissions have not increased. The goalposts seem to have been shifted towards preventing a rise in cases rather than ensuring the NHS does not go over capacity. However, cases can take many forms and this cluster is mostly among young people who are more often than not asymptomatic and the least at risk of having to be admitted to hospital because of the virus.

It seems Aberdeen is being punished for the SNP's failings. On Thursday, Sturgeon attacked two Aberdeen FC players for "blatantly" breaking the rules, saying it was "completely unacceptable" but as usual had nothing to say on the protests in Edinburgh Weaverly railway station demanding that "England get out of Scotland".

On Wednesday night, #ResignSturgeon was trending on twitter because school pupils were, rightly, furious that their predicted grades had been marked down by an SQA "moderation" system, not because of individual failings but because of the postcode area that the schools were located in. Such hypocrisy, such complete hypocrisy from a government whose rationale for abolishing tuition fees was so that any young person, regardless of postcode, could go to university but now it seems if you live in a poorer postcode area then you won't get the grades to qualify. Sturgeon clearly needed drastic action to try and distract from this so she put Aberdeen in lockdown the next day with no notice creating chaos for what is left of Aberdeen's economy. But the city is of little value to her as it is one of the biggest No voting areas in Scotland. Is she taking the same action in Yes voting Glasgow where there is another cluster of cases? Of course not.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has a complete monopoly on providing qualifications in Scotland but at least up until now, they have determined grades using a meritocratic system where students were assessed on their individual performance in an exam and not the school that they went to. It's time to look at alternatives such as a choice of qualification providers as is the case in England or moving to a system where schools provide their own exams the same as universities do.

This year the SNP took the decision to cancel rather than postpone exams and create unprecedented confusion in the education system, they are responsible for the failure to properly assess thousands of students. Nicola Sturgeon did invite us to judge her on her performance in education, well the verdict is in and it is that both Sturgeon and Swinney should resign.

The government must get to grips with the illegal migration crisis.  

More and more countries are being added to the government's quarantine list, however, for those who come here illegally rather than legally this doesn't apply. Throughout lockdown hotels around the country have been filling up with mostly undocumented migrants, with the French authorities doing little to stop the flow.

Private service provider company Serco has been housing migrants in four star hotel chains such as the Hilton, Holiday Inn and the Mercure, at the expense of the taxpayer, with these establishments becoming closed to the British public. Some are even being taken on daytrips and tours of the surrounding areas. Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, has been a lone voice in investigating the arrival and housing of illegal immigrants throughout lockdown. While the rest of the population were under house arrest the border remained open to boats arriving from France. Several hotels have been booked up for the rest of the year causing much concern among local residents. 

This week the government pledged to ramp up enforcement action and bring the navy in. But if the government is serious about getting to grips with this then it cannot allow those who come here illegally to be put up in luxury hotels at the taxpayer's expense not while British citizens are homeless and at the end of long waiting lists for council housing. There must not be an incentive to break the law and enter this country, especially at a time when travel restrictions are in place due to a global pandemic.