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  • Writer's pictureJack O'Neil


When this is the view from your bedroom - turned home office - window, it’s hard not to notice that ‘spooky season’ is upon us. The gorgeous yet, in this photo, rather sinister-looking Morgan Academy in Dundee, surrounded by the falling autumn leaves, sets a scene befitting of a horror movie.

Hallowe’en is close and, like all other holidays so far this year, will be entirely different. We won’t get to experience together seasonal staples like guising, parties, apple dooking or neep carving. What experiences we can share will probably be carried out via Zoom and though further restrictions, scary movie Netflix Parties and more dreaded quizzes loom, take one look on social media or have a chat with friends/family and you’ll know that’s not what's going to be frightening people most this year. 

The last few months have seen a worrying rise in new COVID-19 cases and fatalities. With no cure in sight it’s clear that more restrictive measures need to be brought into force. 

No-one wants to go back into a full-scale lockdown. Personally I’d rather not relive the loneliness and periods of poor mental health I experienced earlier this year, but if tougher restrictions are going to save lives, and they will, along with the majority of the population I’ll happily stay at home and lock the door. 

What’s scaring people right now, though, is the prospect of further restrictions without the necessary support in place for folk whose livelihoods will be turned upside down.

The cries of ‘disgrace’ rang loud earlier this week when Andy Burnham read, live on-air, the Tories meagre proposals to help the economy of Greater Manchester through tier 3 COVID restrictions. Though while the spotlight may have been fixed solely on Manchester those cries echoed across the entire country from folk who’ve been shafted by the Tories, their indecisiveness, and their lack of support and meaningful action.

No part of the UK has been spared from the worst of this. It’s felt strongly here in Scotland, where we thankfully have a government ready and willing to take decisive action to save lives and the economy but lacking the full financial levers to effectively do so. 

This pandemic has laid bare for all to see that Scotland’s two governments have very different attitudes; one looking out for us while the other withholds crucial financial assistance. Unfortunately, it’s now too late to protect Scotland from the brunt of this virus and the terrible handling of it by Boris Johnson’s government with the full powers of independence.

To see how we could have weathered this storm differently as an independent country, though, spin the globe to look at New Zealand and the excellent way in which Jacinda Ardern’s government have protected their people. Fantasy comparisons all too often ignore the fact that New Zealand, unlike Scotland, is an island nation with no bordering countries. An independent Scotland hit by COVID-19 would still suffer badly, but both Nicola and Jacinda are compassionate leaders with a record proving they care, most of all, about people’s safety. The approach of an independent Scotland is likely to have been much closer to the approach taken in New Zealand, which is just one of the many reasons we owe it to future generations, and to ourselves, to fight now for independence for Scotland.

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