Comparing Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon is an interesting exercise. Nicola, one has the feeling, is comfortable giving us instructions - her motives are decent but she finds the state telling the citizen what to do a natural state of affairs; if the medical advice says we wait, then I will tell you to wait and you will do it.

Boris, on the other hand, is plainly uncomfortable with this, he is an instinctive libertarian, the state infringing the freedoms of its citizens, especially when the real danger is far less that the shrieking tabloids would have us believe, does not come naturally. Boris wants us to use our common sense and just act sensibly.

An even greater contrast is how each leader treated a key adviser who made a bit of a bloomer. Catherine Calderwood went to her holiday home and got caught but initially failed to tell Nicola when they spoke that she had also been the weekend before. Nicola’s instinct was clear - she believed the exceptional times merited the retention of somebody she regarded as an excellent adviser. Public opinion then turned nasty and poor old Catherine was down the shute. Nobody believed that “mutual agreement” was anything of the sort - Nicola decided.

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Compare that to Boris’ treatment of Dominic Cummings. Silly old Dom drives up to Durham to get the family to help him with his childcare difficulties - an arguably forgivable mistake but stupidly compounded by him not being big enough to say sorry and a story so implausible about a dash to Barnard Castle to test his apparently dodgy eyesight that we don’t know whether to be outraged or just laugh. What does Boris do? - at great political cost he sticks by the man whose contribution he values and faces down the baying mob.

Who would you rather have as your friend in difficult times when it was politically awkward to stand by you?

These instincts matter in an economic context as we plan the recovery from Covid-19.

Take for example the Private Care Home sector in Scotland. Vilified for profiteering, accused of being cavalier with standards, assailed with calls for Nationalisation. Complete absolute nonsense. Private Care Homes are generally run by sensible owners who, despite the never ending weight of regulation, manage to provide a good service to their users and their families and are subject to far greater scrutiny than public sector Care Homes. It wasn’t their fault there wasn’t enough PPE to go around and it wasn’t their fault the Scottish NHS sent untested people into Care Homes to clear hospital beds and so contributed to the large number of Covid-19 deaths in Care Homes. In the Private Care Home sector the publicly funded occupants are subsidised by the families who fund care themselves. The idea that Private Care Homes should be nationalised should just have been slapped down by the First Minister - but it wasn’t.

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The Scottish Government’s instinct for state meddling is clear. Prestwick Airport - which failed and was taken over by the state and then, predictably, kept on failing. The farce of the Ferguson Shipyard, awarded contracts to build daftly complex ferries for CalMac and then nationalised when it went bust. The taxpayers money poured into Bi-fab without success. The Government-backed financing arrangement relating to the Fort William aluminium smelter which may become the biggest hit of all these lemons on the public purse.

Economic progress creates wealth which enriches the lives of citizens and pays for public services. A country thrives if its people are socially and economically free to do what they - not the state - judge to be best for themselves, their families and their communities.

Around the world state control of people’s lives and economic endeavours has failed again and again to deliver the goods. As Governments try to chart the way forward from Covid-19 economic liberty, not state interference however well meaning, is the way to rebuild prosperity.

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