Call is made for joined up thinking between governments on coronavirus

Key measures should be taken to ensure a more co-ordinated response to coronavirus from Westminster and the devolved governments.

A joint ministerial committee with an “enhanced remit” would establish better understanding between the UK government and the Edinburgh administration, as well as the devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland.

That is the view of MP and former Secretary of State for Scotland Alistair Carmichael, who is behind the call alongside Liberal Democrat colleague, and former Scottish Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace.

Alistair Carmichael.

They argue people – already concerned for their health and livelihoods – are getting “mixed messages” from governments, and that “confusion and inconsistency” risk breeding fear.

The two say the collective approach could help to restore public confidence that leaders are pulling together.

It follows a clear difference in approach by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has signalled a loosening of lockdown measures, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon- who has favoured sticking to the “stay at home” message.

A JMC is a consultative body involving the UK government and devolved administrations.

It is hoped a coronavirus JMC would bring ministers and officials from all UK governments together to agree on solutions.

A statement released by Mr Carmichael and Lord Wallace said: “This is not about dropping blame at anyone’s door.

Lord Wallace.

“The reality, however, is that in recent days and weeks, attempts to formulate responses to the coronavirus are more notable for apparent disagreements between national governments than for policy substance.

“We need governments to build consensus and create a shared responsibility across the UK.

“We are calling for a more joined up response to what is a cross-governmental challenge – by establishing a coronavirus joint ministerial committee.”

They argue a JMC which meets regularly “and with an approach based on consensus and shared responsibility” could help to cut disputes – with all governments involved in developing plans.

“It would help to refocus coronavirus response based on national and regional needs rather than political borders.

“This solution could help reduce the chaos of the current political climate – and point the way towards a better long-term crisis response mechanism in future.

“We believe that an enhanced JMC for the coronavirus crisis is the right way to give people confidence in their governments during this time – with a message that leaders are working with, rather than against each other.”


Add Your Comment
  • Helen Braynis

    • May 15th, 2020 16:38

    Shetland needs its own approach. The Faroes is effectively covid free, whereas the UK has the highest death rate in Europe. Set up a phone line or web page where people who are symptomatic can register. Depending on numbers follow up with testing and contact tracing. It will also show distribution throughout the isles and clusters. Inter-island ferries as well as those to mainland Scotland are essential travel only. The NHS tracking app will not work in remote areas with poor mobile coverage in addition to its multiple other failings. The NHS video conferencing software will not work in areas with poor broadband and is unstable. The proposed quarantine for international arrivals is only 14 days. People have been under mandatory house arrest for nearly 2 months, and some of the smaller isles may not have been infected in the first place.

    • Alastair Ball

      • May 18th, 2020 7:30

      I fully agree with taking a geographical approach to lifting the lock up. If an area is clear and the R rate is zero then civil liberties should be reinstated.

      Maybe the Scottish government is frightened to take responsibility to lift the lock up because then they won’t be able to point the finger at the UK government for making mistakes .

      Looking on the bright side, this could be the start of the downfall of the SNP and their anti democratic way of governance.

      “Freedom” shouted the Aussie.

      • ian Tinkler

        • May 18th, 2020 14:47

        Nicola has been in bed with Boris right up to the 10th of May. Extraordinary how the NATS blame Boris when their own leader behaved as his poodle without a word of criticism for so long.
        She enabled through her own neglect of local issues to double Care Home deaths when compared to England. Not exactly a badge of pride for devolved Health Services of Scotland. The front line Medics and Nurses were and are magnificent in Scotland, it is the political stooges running the Health Boards to sycophant their political masters who worry me. A true bunch of jobsworths!

  • Ian Tinkler

    • May 16th, 2020 13:04

    We seem to have a politics driven Headless-Chiken approach in Scotland. The endless lockdown and fearmongers are perhaps politics and fear-driven. There is plenty of evidence that enabling disadvantaged children back to school does not spread disease or risk children. The evidence from Denmark would indicate that to be a ration way to proceed. It will be interesting to see how England fares while the Scotish Governement vacillates.


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