The professor of public health, Devi Sridhar, has had an interesting part to play in Scotland during the Covid pandemic. A champion of severe restrictions and a ‘zero-Covid strategy’, Sridhar sits on the Scottish government’s Covid-19 advisory group, where her role is to help Nicola Sturgeon stamp out the virus.
At times though, it has almost seemed like Sridhar has ended up resembling more a personal cheerleader for the First Minister than an impartial advisor. The Edinburgh university professor frequently praises the First Minister’s ‘wise words’, her ‘strong leadership’, and ‘decisive action’ in tackling the virus. And, the single time that Sridhar did seem to contradict Sturgeon’s official policy, the academic hastily clarified that she and Sturgeon were ‘completely aligned’.
Now it seems like the professor has gone a step further, and is lobbying for more SNP powers. On Sunday, Sridhar took issue with Celtic players returning to the country after testing positive for the virus. The professor complained that it would be impossible for Scotland to reduce its Covid numbers, if the UK government failed to implement travel restrictions:
— Prof. Devi Sridhar (@devisridhar) January 10, 2021
How can we get numbers down if people keep returning from trips abroad to COVID hotspots like Dubai? This is a reserved power to U.K. govt. They are undermining all local efforts to suppress bc they’re not putting in place any real travel restrictions. https://t.co/mkBUpfCwq3
The only problem is that in reality, there is nothing stopping the Scottish government from quarantining travellers using their own powers. Which is presumably why the SNP changed the law on Monday, so that travellers from Dubai have to isolate for ten days. Never mind as well that Celtic say their trip to Dubai was approved by the Scottish government in the first place.
Unfortunately, it seems that Sridhar has form when it comes to devolved powers. Back in August, the government advisor wrote a piece for the New York Times, in which she suggested the English and Welsh were causing a ‘stream of incoming infections’, and Scotland was powerless to police its own border as part of the United Kingdom. Lo and behold, a month later, Nicola Sturgeon unilaterally introduced a Scottish travel ban. In other words, the government advisor appears to have been talking nonsense.
Could there be a reason for Sridhar’s bizarre stance? Mr S wonders if the professor herself offered a clue when she lambasted Boris Johnson and Donald Trump in July, and was forced to apologise after saying that Unionists were ‘anti-Scottish’. A Freudian slip, no doubt. Although why Scotland’s scientific advisors are attempting to score political points for independence during a crisis, is another question altogether…