Former Secretary of State for Scotland and former Scottish Deputy First Minister call for measures to ensure a coordinated approach and shared responsibility.
Across the country, people are worried about their loved ones and their jobs in light of coronavirus – and they are getting mixed messages from governments. In a time of crisis, confusion and inconsistency breed fear and put people at risk. A collective approach could help to restore public confidence that our leaders are pulling together.
This is not about dropping blame at anyone’s door. 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.
A coronavirus JMC with an enhanced remit, meeting regularly and with an approach based on consensus and shared responsibility would help to reduce 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.