Am I being unrealistic when I see grounds for optimism in the coronavirus crisis?

Dramatic events which reshape how we live our lives, reaching in to every home across the globe, affecting every family in some way, touching even the most powerful, are very rare. The Coronavirus Crisis is one such event. People compare the present crisis to World War Two. In terms of lives lost that is plainly an absurd comparison but the Coronavirus Pandemic probably is the greatest worldwide crisis we have faced since 1945.

During World War Two the nation pulled together in a common endeavour to fight for freedom. Petty differences were put aside as people focused on what really mattered. I sense this spirit in the UK now. Differences between people seem somehow rather less and our connection as citizens and human beings much more important.

The UK Government is not perfect but is working quickly and hard on our behalf. Yes, there are those who think it’s smart to say we should have had a warehouse with one billion facemasks in it but the reality is that you cannot be perfectly ready for every crisis which might come our way. From a standing start I think they are doing not a bad job and are communicating well.

The Scottish Government too is rising to the occasion, acting with the other nations of the UK as one when that is sensible but making some adjustments for Scotland where that is appropriate.

The key point is that the UK, and within it a devolved Scotland, are working effectively. Resources flow across the country to where they are needed most, we stand together.

Contrast this with the EU. The majority of its members put forward a plan for debt to be issued and guaranteed by all members to pay for the impact of the Coronavirus Crisis. The proposal was quickly shot down by the “frugal four” of Germany, Holland, Finland and Austria. The EU is revealed for what it is - not a real union, trouble is coming - a currency union cannot last without deep social, fiscal and political integration. The person in need in Motherwell knows the taxpayer in Manchester’s money will be there and vice versa, the person in Milan knows the taxpayer in Munich doesn’t want to lift a finger.

The other wartime echo we should hope for is a re-appraisal of what really matters and a desire for change. Out of the Second World War came the National Health Service and the start of a fairer deal for women.

In the aftermath of a crisis people are willing to accept changes they would have resisted before - but this flexibility does not tend to last long. Our politicians should be planning now.

What would be a tragic waste is if the Scottish Government’s priority becomes once again how to become Independent and the UK’s how to stop that happening. Both sides need to learn. Scotland is undoubtedly benefiting now from being part of the UK but is showing that it can handle many of its own affairs. How much more constructive it would be - and much better for our economy, which should be the focus as we exit this crisis - if we could talk about UK federalism and greater devolution rather than Independence versus no change.

Some of our great social challenges should be tackled too. Can there be many who, in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic, would not support greater national resources being spent on health and social care? That consensus requires money but the nation may now be ready to pay in a way it was not before.

The opportunity the Coronavirus Crisis gives us is to forge a more united society which would benefit our economy and the people of every part of the UK.

Guy Stenhouse is a Scottish financial sector veteran who wrote formerly as Pinstripe.

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