And so we near the end of January. And while I know it feels very much like Groundhog Day at the moment with the advice still being to remain at home, we are seeing some amazing work being done by our healthcare professionals and armed forces, rolling out the Covid vaccine at a blistering pace.
Well over 6 million people have now had at least one shot of the vaccine in the UK. That’s roughly a 1/10 of the population. An incredible achievement, putting the UK 4th in the world in terms of doses administered, behind only Israel, the UAE and Bahrain and well ahead of the closest European country, Malta. Of course, there is a long way to go, but with community vaccination centres now confirmed for Alford, Banchory and Stonehaven and with the amazing sight of P&J Live being transformed into a mass vaccination hub, it is clear the end is within reach.
The combination of vaccinations and lockdown do seem to be having an impact with the rate of transmission falling across the country and daily case numbers dropping. However, it is clear we are not yet at the stage when we can start reducing restrictions so, please, continue to stay at home and do your bit to help our great nation wide effort in the knowledge we are nearing the end of this nightmare.
I was pleased to see the Scottish Government Finance Secretary confirm a new package of support for those involved in the Weddings industry. It has come too late, I fear, for many I have been working with over the past year to raise awareness of the outdoor catering and events sector who have really struggled over the past year, but, at least we now see a bespoke package which will help. More needs to be done and I am now setting my sights on the bureaucracy and red tape at a local Government level to make sure local companies can access the much needed support as quickly as possible. Watch this space.
On Sunday evening, I was pleased to be asked back on to the Westminster Hour- one of the more ‘grown up’ political shows on air at the moment. I always enjoy the conversation and the space they give each of their guests to make their points without feeling the need to badger or talk across. In the show we talked about more controls at the British border, school closures, the latest polling on Scottish independence and Holocaust Memorial Day which is coming up this week. Link to the show here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000rmb0
On Monday, I wrote for Conservative Home on the need for Unionists to start talking up British identity. This was on the back of polling that showed that many young people in Scotland no longer identify as ‘British’, even in part. My article makes the case that if even Unionists don’t use the term “British”, why would anyone choose to identify with it. Link to the article here - https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2021/01/andrew-bowie-that-weekend-poll-and-scotlands-future-until-we-start-to-call-ourselves-british-why-should-anyone-else.html