Sunday Column: The War on Normal

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

By Derek Gardiner

The new message of the Scottish government reiterated by Nicola Sturgeon every day now is that "if things feel like you are going back to normal then you should reconsider what you are doing". This is a great example of the kind of attitude that many in government have towards people's lives. They don't like what they see as normal because that would not justify government control of every aspect of our lives; from who we can meet, when we can meet them or even whether they are allowed to use our indoor bathrooms.

Government ministers now say that we won't return to normal for "many months". We will have to abide by this ludicrous 2 metre distance rule (when most other countries use 1 metre), wear face-masks on public transport under penalty of a fine, sit behind protective screens in pubs and have trains running at 10% capacity. Both the UK and Scottish government seem to be detached from reality on this one. For the country to keep moving effectively then we cannot go on like this otherwise the economy will collapse, people will lose their jobs and we will lose our personal freedom.

People are pilloried for doing normal everyday things such as going for a walk along the beach, meeting up with friends and extended family or taking a day out in another part of the country, with Nicola Sturgeon threatening to impose a five mile limit on how far people can travel which would see those who live in rural areas de facto confined to their homes.

We are working on the assumption that the coronavirus will be here for forever and a day, when some scientists are saying that is not the only outcome possible. Professor Karol Sikora has suggested that the virus may just die out or mutate into a less aggressive form which can co-exist with the human host. Many scientists are also sceptical of a second wave of the virus, pointing out that this is not the Spanish flu of 1918-19 and it would be unwise to compare it to that. In these circumstances we may not have to wait for an indefinite period of time to get a vaccine in order to get rid of the virus.

Let's listen to the experts and not assume it will be the worst case scenario. Instead of waging war on normal let's try and live life as normally and as sensibly as we can.

I respect the right to protest for everyone

This weekend there have been mass demonstrations against the appalling murder of George Floyd in the United States. For a society to be free everyone must be treated equally before the law and the police held to account for their actions.

However, the response to the current demonstrations has been very different to the response to protests by lockdown sceptics a number of weeks ago. They were condemned as "irresponsible" for encouraging mass gatherings but the scenes we have seen over the weekend show social distancing being disregarded by some demonstrators and the police have not enforced it the way they did against lockdown protesters.

I support the right of everyone to peaceful protest whether there is a virus present or not, to outlaw such things sets a dangerous precedent. Whether you believe that social distancing is necessary or not (I believe it needs to be relaxed), if it is a legal requirement then it should be enforced to everyone equally.