LIKE everyone, the pandemic and lockdowns were a difficult time for me and my family and while part of my job was scrutinising the UK Government, I was also just trying to do my best in the most difficult circumstances that many of us have ever faced.

With that in mind, I welcomed the idea of a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic, to put those life and death decisions under the microscope and see what we as a country, as legislators, as people, could or should have done differently.

Not to be alarmist but Covid was unprecedented, “lockdown” was something that happened in movies, and there are no guarantees something similar won’t happen in the future.

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So, if for no other reason than to know what not to do next time, an inquiry was an important opportunity for us.

For obvious reasons, I haven’t been able to watch the whole inquiry, but I have watched some of it and some very important questions have been asked, some very useful information has been gathered. However, so much of it has been a mix between gossip mag reporting and a show trial.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon giving evidence before the UK Covid Inquiry last WednesdayNicola Sturgeon giving

Trawling through personal WhatsApp messages where people were either venting frustration or making the odd joke as a coping mechanism for the incredible stress they were under does us all a disservice. It belittles and undermines the importance of the process.

It has turned what should have been an operational assessment of decision-making into a hyper-partisan point-scoring contest and an opportunity for some in the media to settle perceived scores.

Just take a look at your own private WhatsApp messages and tell me you haven’t said something you don’t actually mean, just as a way of venting to someone you trust.

Now I do realise that politicians should always be open to scrutiny – and I’m not questioning that in the slightest.

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However, it seems to me that some of the opinion, commentary and analysis press pieces on Nicola Sturgeon’s evidence were written in people’s heads – if not already on paper – long before she said a single word.

The deliberate twisting of evidence to suit predetermined attack lines has been plain to see and really should embarrass all involved.

But realistically they were never going to forgive Nicola for showing the people of Scotland that a country can be led by serious and dedicated individuals instead of the rotating door or circus characters Westminster keeps throwing our way.

The National: So far there has been a lot of focus on mainly trivial WhatsApp 

This was always going to be their moment to tear her down.

Thankfully, this particular politician is not for tearing down and she handled herself with integrity, grace and honesty.

That’s not to say that every decision made in Scotland was the right one or that there was nothing that could have been done better. I am sure there are a whole host of things that could and should be done differently next time – as Nicola herself has said – but will the inquiry be allowed to actually find out that important information or will it all be lost as we talk endlessly about who called who an “arsehole”?

Maybe we should have had a gossip inquiry so the parochial partisans could have a feeding frenzy and then let some professionals get to the bottom of the decisions taken with the available evidence in the real inquiry.

Of course, there are people who are still grieving and want answers, and in some cases, they want someone to blame.

My criticism is not aimed at them. I lost nobody in the pandemic and how can I ever know how they felt and still feel? My concern, however, is that the answers they want will get lost in the gossip element of it.

We must also be aware that there are a lot of people out there willing to feed on that grief and use it for self-promotion or to advance their political narrative, more interested in misogynistic conspiracy theories and soundbites than anything else.

It does the country no good to be able to say we tore down this or that politician of any party – and, though this is a topic for another day, the violence behind that language needs to stop – if all we have is a scalp and no better understanding of how to protect lives if or when the next pandemic hits.