That she and her party were a disaster for Scotland, there can be little doubt. The catastrophic list of abysmal failures in just about every aspect of our national life are testament to an administration that was impotent in the face of the deep problems they had to face. It is invidious to repeat, because we know what they are, but it seems that the failure was catastrophic in everything they touched and these failures are only amplified when we scramble around to identify what might be the achievements.  

Perhaps the biggest failure, in common with so many administrations, was their inability to see the limitations of their office. A lack of appreciation of the first responsibilities of government, which is to protect the citizens from bullies outside and in. There was a naïve aspiration to reach beyond these responsibilities and pursue impossible dreams without the qualifications or the authority to do so. So that, rather than focus on things they could do, they got lost in pursuing things that they never could. It is not in the gift of any governments to solve the deep problems that afflict our society. The problem is thinking that they can.

Many people including some of her fiercest critics have paid tribute to her management of the Covid crisis where she showed a level of leadership when others, notably the Westminster government, were dithering.  It is hard to deny, but there is an underlying assumption that that there was in fact a real crisis and a real pandemic. Leadership, in itself, is of no advantage if the narrative is suspect and this one certainly was.

I believe it was a disaster for Scotland, but then, I am not convinced anyone could have done better, perhaps worse. Equally I am not necessarily convinced that the new incumbent, whoever that might be, will be able to turn things round in any significant or meaningful way. So, for those who are, metaphorically, ‘dancing on graves’ be careful what you wish for.

I met her once, chatting with folk over tea following a funeral. She was pleasant charming and, in many ways, an ordinary likeable person.  But that’s the world we live in. The person in the media and in the public eye turns out not to be the person in real life. She will be 53 this year. She has been ‘Nicola Sturgeon the politician’ all her life and wants to spend a bit of time on ‘Nicola Sturgeon the human being’. I hope she can do that and, despite my sense of foreboding, wish her heir every success in governing with Wisdom, Integrity, Justice and Compassion.

The Needle of Death

The tragic figures for drug deaths in Scotland, issued this week, should shock us out of our complacency but I don’t think they will. Already politicians have sieved the opportunity to round on the government. But who seriously believes that a labour or labour/libdem coalition, or a conservative administration, for that matter, could have made any difference?  Laying this at the feet of the SNP, who are probably doing their best  is simply unfair. Blaming the government is the easiest game in the book. The truth is that facing up to this problem is way beyond the power of any political grouping. It is a much deeper disease at the core of society and not within the gift of any politician to resolve.  All that can be done, I suspect, and all that will be done, will be a containment exercise. The issue will be moved further away from law and order and be embedded in health and safety. It will be a harm reduction measure and, while this may bring the figures to a more acceptable levels (If drug deaths are ever acceptable), it will not address the real problem.  Instead it will give a renewed push towards decriminalisation and legalisation and the culture of death will be made “safe”.

Like all almost all the serious issue of the day, the responses will fall along predictable lines, attitudes will harden and views become increasingly polarised. That’s a tragedy.  Because there is truth and real evidence in both sides.

I believe that addiction is a real phenomenon and people can be enslaved, trapped in a dependency that will drive them to the most selfish, self destructive and  appalling behaviour often involving deceit, manipulation and  sometimes real cruelty to those who love them most and who have done everything in their power to help. It is ugly and heart-breaking to watch. The terrible destruction of families and relationships by addictions is a great blight on society and the individual at the vortex seems locked in a vice unable to free themselves. I believe it, because it resonates with my understanding of the human condition. The spiritual analogy is sin, and what it does, which is why we need a Saviour.

But I also believe in free will and that at some point along the line the individual has made a deliberate choice to pursue their own pleasure and to hell with the rest. To deny the individual’s responsibility here is extremely  patronising as it deprives them of their human dignity – the ability to choose. That is why I am uneasy about treating dependence and addiction as purely health issues as it parks the issue of responsibility. One of the best gifts you might be able to give a sufferer is the hope in the belief that they can break free, if they really want to. I remember the testimony of a doctor who had worked with addicts and alcoholics over many years. He had seen all the programmes and methods for rehabilitation and come to the stark conclusion that people only recovered if they really wanted to.

If we care at all we should do everything we can to help, no matter how costly that might be.  But the person needs to really want it. They have to come to the place where they face the reality of who they are and seek the help that can only come from beyond themselves. That is the basis of the  AA and DAA programmes and why they, more than other, have been successful.

I think that we have to do the same. We have to look beyond ourselves. We have to seek help from a higher authority. We need to put our trust in a Saviour.