I’M often asked: "Why are you so down on politics and politicians?" I can only reply that after 30 years covering politics in Scotland, Britain, Ireland and America I find it hard to believe that most politicians are out for anything other than themselves, and their narrow party interests, in pursuit of power and ambition. Only a very few give a damn about the people they’re supposed to represent.

For proof, I offer you the fiasco over the return of schools in Scotland. It’s a master class in political cynicism. So forgive me if I’m cynical in return.

Until Tuesday, Education Secretary John Swinney was telling us it could take a year to get schools back to normal. Children would get ‘blended learning’ – partly at school, partly at home. Fifty per cent class time was supposed to be the minimum but we discovered that some councils were only offering a third in-class time to children.

Many parents were angry that their children weren’t going to get the education they need. Home learning has been disastrous with some teachers reporting only a handful of children turning up for online lessons. Many other parents worried schools might not be safe enough for return.

Teachers busied themselves getting their classrooms ready for social distancing. Head teachers devised complicated timetables which would see groups of children in school on alternate days or weeks, or differing times of the day.

However, the SNP came under pressure over this worrisome and confusing policy. Angry parents and opposition MSPs made life difficult for Nicola Sturgeon’s government. As a result, on Tuesday, the policy changed.

Now the plan is for schools to reopen full-time in August without social distancing. Why? What’s changed? Apparently, according to Swinney, when it comes to the pandemic, “the picture looks more positive”.

Forgive me, if I don’t believe this. Only a fool would think that this country – along with many other nations which have handled coronavirus much more successfully – isn’t heading for a second wave. Surgeons, nurses and GPs all fear a second wave.

Countries which have eased lockdown are experiencing spikes and clusters. France recorded 517 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours and is investigating five new clusters, bringing the total number of clusters in the country to 89. The country eased out of lockdown, opening bars and restaurants from early June but continues to see hundreds of new daily cases.

Italy has recorded 122 new cases of coronavirus. There’s been clusters reported in Spain and Germany that have led to new restrictions being imposed. China fears a second wave.

Scotland has handled the pandemic little better than the UK. There’s been more than 4000 deaths here. In the UK, there’s been more than 42,000. Scotland has roughly a tenth of the UK’s population. The figures speak for themselves.

How is this a “positive picture” as Swinney claims? Understandably, parents are even more worried now. Before, it seemed that it was just their children’s education which would suffer. Now, parents worry about a return to school without social distancing measures. They’re also more confused than ever. Swinney’s announcement clashes with much of the information they’re receiving from schools about their children’s education.

Teachers are also worried. They’re genuinely scared. They’re being asked to go into their classrooms unsure if government guidance is sufficient to protect them. Nobody should be expected to go to work fearful. Teachers also feel used. They worked hard to put the "blended" model in place – now that’s gone. So, it’s little wonder that teachers are angry with the SNP.

The SNP’s dithering, confused messaging on education appears simply cruel when it comes to teachers, parents and children.

But the most repellent aspect of the whole fiasco is the crowing and gloating and politicking by our MSPs and their party apparatchiks. Once Swinney switched from the blended model to a straightforward return to school, opposition MSPs were up on their hind legs bragging about a "u-turn". They had won. The SNP had been humiliated.

The SNP, of course, said it wasn’t a u-turn. The blended model remained as a contingency plan if the infection worsened. There were caveats, the nationalists said, so there’d been no volte face

Here’s the truth: it was a u-turn – but nobody cares. The SNP did cave in to pressure from parents and opposition parties, and we’ll all have to wait and see if that capitulation was safe and sensible. To claim this isn’t a u-turn is to reinvent the concept of geometry, and political language.

However, outside the incestuous bubble of Holyrood no-one gives a damn. Parents care about their children. Teachers care about their safety and their pupils. Who would spare even a thought to the pride and ego of the political class?

And this is what sickens most of all. Our politicians think that moving the debate from the future of our children’s education to the issue of whether they got a political win out of this or not is acceptable. It shows how deeply these people are out of touch with the rest of us.

Party politics in inimical to the interests of the people. Political parties take a position, their rivals take the opposite position, and they dig in. It doesn’t matter what’s good for us. Like generals in the First World War, they draw their lines and the casualties are the little people, the rank and file.

The only issue that matters is that our children get a good education, that parents feel their children are safe and prospering, and that teachers feel protected at work. That’s all we should care about. Politics should be inconsequential.

Is it really impossible to come up with a safe, sensible solution? Could local community centres and churches not be used as additional school space or spillover classrooms so children remain socially distant? There’s many teachers without full time jobs – hire them. If we can set up the temporary Louisa Jordan hospital for Covid patients at an exhibition centre in Glasgow, why can’t we think equally big when it comes to schooling?

Parents, teachers and, most of all, children are being failed by our political class. But then the only lesson to be learned from this entire fiasco is that Scottish politics itself is a failure.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.