The country creaks under the impact of Covid. Few of us have any idea what the outcome will be for the economy especially and society generally, but it is unlikely to be savoury. With the further finality of Brexit now days away, we can at least agree that this should be the time for politicians to devote their waking hours to the real issues and to cast aside the politicking and address the things that matter. Agreed? Well not apparently north of the border, where the Scottish Government has announced that it will start work immediately – immediately mind – on introducing a licencing system to operate on the nation’s grouse moors. So, let’s hear it for the SNP led Scottish government. Let it never be said that it has caviled in the face of the forces ranged against it. That when it comes to things that really matter, the lights at Holyrood will burn into the early hours as the nation’s elected representatives toil to bring toffs, landowners and assorted Tories to heel.
Of course, it has to be said that grouse and grouse moors perhaps don’t come too high up on the list of priorities of, say, the homeless north of the border, whose numbers have increased by seven per cent in ten years and where the gap in premature mortality rates between deprived areas and affluent ones has increased to its highest point in more than twelve. But, hey, it’s not all bad news. Just this week we learned that Scotland proudly leads the way in having the highest rate of deaths caused by drug misuse in the EU, which neatly dovetails with having the shortest life expectancy among the 27 nations that currently comprise it.
One should not necessarily view the licencing system as a bad thing. What is a very bad thing is that the independence obsessed Scottish Government chooses to prioritise for “immediate action” something which could hardly be called vital. What this announcement illustrates is that given its track record of hostility towards private landowners and the aforementioned toffs and Tories, the SNP is once again indulging in the worst kind of gesture politics.