The Scottish Government’s “COVID-19 – A Framework for Decision-Making” has been widely welcomed. That must partly have been because it was, after all, a plan, and strategic planning has so far been either absent or invisible. The plan has also won friends by avoiding the incautious language used by Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock and some of their advisers. Instead, it quietly arrives at much the same place by keeping references to enforceable human rights to a bare minimum and filling the gaps with aspirational but unenforceable principles like “dignity” and “autonomy”.
The document looks like a boilerplate job bolted together to settle nerves at a moment when movers and shakers around the UK appeared to be hustling for an early end to lockdown. That moment has perhaps already passed. It remains to be seen whether the plan will continue to matter, or whether it will become just another exhibit in the museum of failed pandemic planning.
The component parts of the plan have been drafted carefully, with an eye to possible liability. It has at least revealed, rather quietly and perhaps unintentionally, how far short Scottish and UK pandemic planning has fallen, and how much lattitude the Scottish Government intends to allow itself. Those are matters that deserve our close attention.
Read Richard Haley's full analysis of the Scottish Government's Framework for Decision-Making