First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Tory leader Ruth Davidson. And up above we think that may be Santa Claus disguised as LibDem leader Willie Rennie.

By Bill Heaney

Are you lonesome tonight – and will you still be lonesome at Christmas?  You will be pleased to know that somebody cares – even if it is only a politician or ten.

Who would ever have thought that their usually hard hearts would go out to us seniors at the very first sound of sleigh bells ringing and snow starting to fall on Ben Lomond.

Tory leader Ruth Davidson, dressed appropriately in red, was first to tell her colleagues in the Scottish Parliament what she wants for Christmas.

With you in mind, Ruth told her fellow MSPs: “Last month, I asked the First Minister to consider a Christmas loneliness plan so that no one would be left sitting alone at their Christmas table. I am pleased by the reports of four-nations discussions to make it easier for people to have some kind of meeting, no matter where their family lives, but Christmas is only five weeks away.

“We must treat the public like grown-ups and let them into Government thinking so that they can plan for themselves.

Therefore, I ask the First Minister to give people at home more information on how those four-nations talks are progressing, and to give a fuller sense of what is being considered by her Government for the festive time.”

Fat chance of that, I thought, the geese around here are most certainly not getting fat and we haven’t as much as a penny to put in the old man’s hat.

Nicola Sturgeon, whose name indicates she was born around the feast of St Nicholas and who fits the bill as the fairy at the top of the Christmas tree – but only sometimes – revealed she had been having talks with the chief elves, Michael Gove from the UK Government, the First Minister of Wales and the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

She said: “Among other things, we discussed the Christmas period and how we could come to a sensible—I stress ‘sensible’—and safe plan that will allow people not 100 per cent normality over Christmas, but a greater degree of normality, in particular the ability to spend some time with loved ones.”

As with everything in SNP-run Scotland, the contents of the selection box of alternatives is a closely guarded secret – “We charged our officials, advised by our respective chief medical officers, to put together a concrete proposal that we will then consider and, I hope, announce the detail of in the coming days—although, obviously, we need to wait to see what that proposal is. I hope that we will be able to share it with the public over the course of the next week.

Renton goes it alone last year when Scrooge decided their tree from the Council was not on the Christmas list …

“We are all determined that we come, if possible, to a four-nations agreement, given family patterns across the UK. I think that we are also all determined to strike, as best we can, the right balance between the understandable desire—which I share—to see family over the Christmas period, which is so special to so many of us, and doing that in a way that does not lead to increased loss of life and increased harm to health over January.

“That is not going to be an easy balance to strike, and I already hear people expressing concerns about our even considering that kind of relaxation. However, it is important that we try to get that balance right, so we will continue to do that work.

“More broadly, we are working with the older people’s strategic action forum on plans to support older people over the winter. That includes, of course, the Christmas period. We have already announced additional funding to local and national organisations that support older people, including Generations Working Together, the Scottish Pensioners Forum, Outside the Box, Hourglass and Age Scotland.

“We know that Christmas will be particularly difficult for older people and, indeed, for anybody who is on their own. We are considering the proposal that was put forward during an earlier debate in Parliament about a specific Christmas loneliness campaign, and we will announce more detail of that shortly.”

This almost brought a tear to Rudolph’s eye as he shook the snow off his antlers.

Ruth Davidson said: “We all understand that relaxing the rules for any period, even a day, comes with consequences and will require mitigations, if it is to work at all. Yesterday, the Government adviser Dr Susan Hopkins said: ‘the Sage … advice previously suggested that for every day we release we will need five days of tighter restrictions’.”

And she asked if speculation that there would be five days of tightened restrictions for every day of festive relaxation was correct.

Nicola looked as if she had been asked if she believed in Santa Claus.

She replied: “It is not specifically part of the planning. I understand that that figure has been discussed—in what detail, I am not yet sure—by the scientific advisory group for emergencies, but I have not yet seen the minutes of the meeting of SAGE at which, I understand, it was discussed.

“I am seeking, right now, advice from my public health advisers—principally, obviously, the chief medical adviser—about the basis for that view and whether, for example, the calculation of five days for every one day of relaxation would apply if there was complete relaxation or would be less if the relaxation was more minimal, as I think is likely. We are interrogating that right now. “

It’s not a very Christmassy thought to bring to mind. A bit like finding out you are living in a house without a lum.  Being interrogated by Nicola must be like feeling that you are the little boy that Santa Claus forgot.

However, the First Minister assured the nation: “The reason why all four Governments asked that a proposal be brought forward that is fully informed by the advice of the chief medical officers is that we make sure that we factor in all such analysis and assessment.

“I do not underestimate how difficult the balance will be for us all to strike. I want people to have a degree of normality over Christmas, but I do not want to have to announce, or the country to have to live with, numbers on more bereaved families and a death toll that could have been avoided, were we to get that balance wrong.

“We will take great care, listen to advice and ultimately, I hope, arrive at a judgment that we all think is safe and sensible.”

The First Minister hinted that we might get back “to normality” for a few days, but no one knows what normal is anymore. Anyway …

Santa Claus is coming to town

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He’s making a list,
He’s checking it twice,
He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice
Santa Claus is coming to town

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