Scotland needs zero covid

Has Nicola Sturgeon done enough to protect people from Covid-19?

The Scottish Government has claimed to follow a Zero Covid strategy, yet has failed so far to protect the population sufficiently.

The Scottish Government has devolved control of health services in Scotland, so is ultimately responsible for what is done - and what is left undone - to save lives and control the spread of Covid-19 in this country.

Find out more about the Zero Covid campaign.

Nicola Sturgeon and her government have managed to achieve arguably greater engagement with the population north of the border, to appear more sympathetic, and to act less punitively regarding lockdown compliance.

But all this has been largely a cosmetic exercise. In actual fact, the situation in Scotland throughout the pandemic has been little better than in England, and arguably is now worse than in Northern Ireland.


The Scottish Government’s pandemic policy has generally been to hang on to the coat tails of the UK government, with predictably disastrous consequences.

This has included leaving the virus to spread unchecked until March 23, allowing private companies to carry out testing and tracing and failing to address the obvious problem of infected people travelling between England and Scotland during the summer holidays.

These are all examples of serious errors of judgement by our government.

One of the greatest scandals is the result of the outsourcing of care home provision: effectively, Scottish taxpayers are paying private companies to profit from the ‘care’ of vulnerable elderly people by overworked, underpaid, and under-protected staff.

The thousands of unnecessary deaths in care homes is not due to the virus alone, but also to the Scottish Government using companies that value profit more than ordinary people’s lives.

The treatment of asylum seekers in Scotland is equally shocking.


This has included needlessly forcing people to leave their homes, putting them in hotel accommodation and putting even more money in the pockets of private companies, such as the Mears Group.

They have been denied access to proper medical help and emotional support.

The government has also been using the fact that asylum seekers were being supplied with food as an excuse to deprive them of the measly £5.33 a day they normally receive in support. This food, in turn, is often inadequate and culturally inappropriate.

Is it any wonder that tragedies such as the death of Mercy Baguma happen? But behind the few cases that made the headlines, there are many more unreported examples of unnecessary suffering which could have been prevented.

Finally, the ‘chopping and changing’ regarding lockdown regulations in recent weeks, and the decision taken by the Scottish Government to reopen schools and other educational institutions after the summer holidays, have exacerbated an already critical situation.


Nicola Sturgeon might have acted a few weeks before Boris Johnson, but it was still too little, too late.

It has been suggested that the Scottish Government was reluctant to take more decisive measures independently of the ‘lead’ shown by the UK Government because this would have been seen as ‘flagging up independence’.

Well, the Scottish National Party (SNP) is supposed to want an independent Scotland, so wouldn’t a successful Zero Covid strategy by a Scottish Government with an SNP majority have convinced many Scottish people that leaving the Union would be a good idea?

The sad fact is that the Scottish Government and the SNP – with some very honourable exceptions – are terrified of upsetting big business.

Just remember the ‘Trump golf course’ constructed on a former Site of Special Scientific Interest in Aberdeenshire, and the fact that private firms are allowed to profit from NHS Scotland car parks.


Whisky is the greatest source of income for the Scottish economy, followed by tourism - which has been largely non-existent in 2020, apart from visits by rich people, such as Boris Johnson.

But Scotland is also home to many large financial organisations and produces most of the arms manufactured in the UK.

All is not lost, however. The launch of the Zero Covid campaign on Monday, 9 November this year was followed by a number of small, physically distanced protests on its National Day of Action the following Saturday.

This included a protest outside the Scottish Parliament. We argued that another approach is indeed possible and that if a powerful grassroots movement grows rapidly, the Scottish Government will be forced to take the necessary measures to eliminate Covid-19.

But it is essential that this is a democratic process, not a top-down approach which lets big business and employers off the hook while demonising ordinary people.

People in Scotland can rally round Zero Covid and its Find, Trace, Test, Isolate and Support strategy, and demand that the Scottish Government does all five in a thorough, humane and transparent manner – the ‘Support’ element has been notably lacking in its approach so far. 

Let’s remember this: It’s Covid-19, not Covid-21!

This Author

Leslie Cunningham is a campaigner with Zero Covid