Is Nicola Sturgeon’s star, and with it support for the SNP, on the wane?
It won’t have escaped her attention that there is a growing number of groups – among them health workers, teachers and the parents of schoolchildren – who are displaying signs of discontent over their treatment by the Scottish Government.
And who can blame them?
NHS staff are over-worked and under-valued; teachers – ditto; and parents wonder if Education Secretary John Swinney’s catastrophic handling of the school exams fiasco, followed by his decision to scrap Highers and Advanced Highers altogether, is the last throw of his political dice.
There will, of course, be many within those groups who are current or past supporters of Scottish independence.
But are they tiring of the first minister on the basis that her focus appears almost exclusively on finding a way out of the UK?
Have lives improved since she took over the reins from Alex Salmond?
According to research by Survation, the numbers backing a Yes vote has dropped by 2% to 43%, but the “don’t knows” stand at 16% which means that while the SNP points to a string of successive leads in the polls, the undecideds hold all the cards.
And it is they who will ponder what a Scottish currency, a matter over which the SNP stumbled when they last went for the jackpot a generation ago in 2014, will look like.
They’ll also ruminate whether the EU would welcome an independent Scotland at its table to dine on the North Sea’s finest fish, not necessarily caught by Scottish boats.
But there is another issue; although the Conservatives and Labour might feel miffed that the first minister’s daily TV show affords her an unfair advantage in political terms, there is an argument that such over-exposure could work against her.
Our economy is imploding, our world ranking in education wins us the dunce’s hat, the NHS in Scotland continues to fail and we have a Holyrood government falling short on its promise to close the attainment gap.
While this is going on, Scotland’s leader insists on appearing on television.
Isn’t there anybody else capable of reading the script?
In recent weeks, rattled by questions over what her husband, SNP chief executive Peter Murrell, knew of complaints against Mr Salmond, cracks in her armour have begun to show.
If she were unable to deliver independence, assuming a referendum was sanctioned, defeat would put her coat on a shoogly peg and the country’s electorate would scratch their heads trying to think of who is capable of replacing her.
A new, improved Alex Salmond, anyone?
Sorry just not good enough
When is an apology for wrongdoing simply not good enough?
One example springs to mind in a flash, the “we’re truly sorry for our shortcomings” response from the Deeside Care Home in the Cults area of Aberdeen where 11 residents died as Covid spread through the place.
The “shortcomings” were pointed out by Care Inspectorate officials last month when a long list of deficiencies were highlighted, including ill-fitting face masks worn by staff as well as social distancing that was less than perfect.
When you count additional problems, like poor access to clinical waste bins, a dirty bath and damaged and broken items, we can see just why infection prevention was compromised.
With 64 cases reported in double-quick time after being told to get their act together, it is hardly surprising that the families of the elderly ensconced in that care home are extremely worried?
I know of one man, whose mother is there, who was fuming because he learned of Deeside’s difficulties not from the people who run the home but through newspapers reports and TV bulletins.
As the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service investigate, there will be families of those in similar facilities up and down the country wondering just how safe their loved ones are.
The figures we’ve seen from those establishments over the past few months will not fill them with confidence.
Tiers just keep flowing from masters
Douglas Lumsden, the co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, has been in full Ken Dodd mode.
“Tiers for souvenirs are all you’ve left me,” he sang to an unmoved Nicola Sturgeon.
The city and Aberdeenshire’s relegation to Tier 3 was not unexpected, he agreed, and warned residents to batten down the hatches until at least mid-January.
There is a need for vigilance, of course, but I don’t envisage the council boss ever dropping to one knee to complete his ditty: “Let’s forgive and forget, turn our tiers of regret once more to tiers of happiness.”