WE are all experts now. It seems that thousands of us have been hiding our detailed understanding of epidemiology, medical science and human behaviour.

A lot of these experts lurk on Twitter, sometimes using their own names and sometimes not, but always available to tell us why either Boris Johnson or Nicola Sturgeon (never both, because that’s not how political zealots work) are appallingly mismanaging the Coronavirus pandemic and putting us all at risk.

Fortunately, my Twitter timeline is not real life. Although it can be challenging to retain a sense of perspective on this, the people using the coronavirus to advance partisan politics constitute a small proportion of the population.

Indeed, in an unexpected triumph for the mainstream media, the coronavirus outbreak could precipitate a setback for the world of blogs, user-created and socially-shared news, which has shown itself to be partisan, hysterical and, at worst, highly dangerous in its rank inaccuracy.

The broadsheet newspapers, in particular, and broadcast news, have excelled themselves. In Scotland, I would highlight this newspaper, The Herald, along with the Scotsman, the Times, the Courier and the Press & Journal as exemplars of good content, good contributors and good tone. STV’s Scotland Tonight has been excellent, and it is a great pity that the impact of the virus is forcing it to go weekly rather than nightly, from tonight onwards. And the BBC, despite the mix of UK and Scottish content being confusing when the UK Government and Scottish Government diverge, is doing a significantly better job of managing the range of views on Coronavirus than it has on other dominant issues such as Brexit.

What most of the mainstream media has successfully portrayed is what the world of blogs and social media cannot see because of their blinding bias: that Scotland has two leaders in Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon who, although of differing styles, are both of high intelligence and high analytical ability, and who have shown themselves able to be both decisive and nimble in the most dramatic circumstances.

Those who read the last paragraph and roll their eyes are, I’m afraid, the people who can open their eyes but cannot see. YouGov has polled regularly since the start of the crisis, showing high approval ratings both for Mr Johnson and the UK Government’s actions, and I am certain that Scottish polling would reveal the same in favour of Ms Sturgeon.

Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon are in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis. Ms Sturgeon said, at the outset of this pandemic, that she has “never cared less about party politics”, and I have no doubt that this genuine sentiment is shared by Mr Johnson. It is impossible to understand both the scale of their challenge and the burden placed on them as the individuals at the top of the tree. Individuals, let us remember, who are not just leaders, but people. People with parents in the at-risk group, with (in the case of Ms Sturgeon) relatives in the NHS, and with (in the case of Mr Johnson) a pregnant fiancee.

Although they will both be emotionally and physically exhausted, we as citizens expect them to be able to make lucid decisions about an existential issue which will shape the rest of our lives. Yes, they have ministers, advisers and experts around them, but as the people in the office history will pass sentence on them as individuals. Not since Sir Winston Churchill have we had a leader in this country whose decisions will be judged by generations to come.

There is a fine line between respecting and assisting a crisis government, and failing to speak up if it takes the wrong course. Sense-checking is an essential part of this process. The announcement last night by the parliament of New Zealand, that the legislative programme has been suspended and a special committee has been formed under the chairmanship of the leader of the opposition, with a majority of members from the opposition, is a fascinating attempt at bipartisan scrutiny of what is, in effect, a wartime government.

The New Zealand model could, I think, work well in Scotland, where Jackson Carlaw is displaying his own outstanding leadership credentials by ensuring that the First Minister knows he has her back, and that if he does develop any concerns he will deal with them in the right way.

Indeed, Mr Carlaw’s letter on Tuesday to his Conservative colleague in the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, shows that he is just as prepared to raise an issue of concern (in this case the self-employed) with a Tory as he is with a Nationalist.

The truth is that the great majority of the people who make it their business to criticise Mr Johnson or Ms Sturgeon couldn’t lace their boots. They do so through spectacles tinted by their political bias. Furthermore, it is one-dimensional criticism which takes no account of the plethora of factors they have to consider.

Behavioural science doesn’t work, critics say, we should have had a lockdown weeks ago, like in China. But a lockdown in a dictatorship, where non-compliance could lead to a long jail term, or worse, is different from a lockdown in a free society. Chinese lives may be saved now, but what has been the cost in human life of the Communist regime?

Madrid built a field hospital weeks ago, yet Matt Hancock only announced our first one on Tuesday. We’re miles behind, right? Wrong. Of course countries in Europe took some steps first; the virus reached there significantly earlier than here. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that the UK, and Scotland, are ahead of our continental neighbours at this point in the curve.

The irony of all of this is that those who seek to use the coronavirus to launch politicised criticism at our leaders are actually criticising the Government’s medical, scientific and behavioural experts. For it is their advice which has shaped Mr Johnson and Ms Sturgeon’s strategy all along.

As the modelling changes, so does the advice, and so does the strategy. That is precisely what should happen. This is not about politics. This is about government. So if you have something useful to say, then speak. But if you don’t, a period of silence would be most welcome.

Andy Maciver is Director of Message Matters

Read more: Coronavirus in Scotland: Six further deaths and 719 total cases