LWD leader for May 2020 was chosen from four political leaders currently in a political struggle over autonomy, while dealing with the Coronavirus crisis. The winner was Nichola Sturgeon, for her performances in the daily press conferences reporting on the Coronavirus news.
The four nations championship
The differences in policy reminds me in some ways of a battle such as the rugby union championship (known as the four nations championship before their numbers swelled to today’s six.
The original four nations championship contenders were England, Scotland, Ireland (combined NI and Republic) and Wales. This month’s political battles can be seen a struggle between the leaders of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, the last represented by the Leader of the Government in Westminster.
The candidates for LWD leader of the month are therefore
Nichola Sturgeon, Scotland
Arlene Foster, N. Ireland
Mark Drakeford, Wales
Boris Johnson , Prime Minister of the Parliament representing the four nations.
The West Lothian question
At the start of of the month [May 2020] tensions are building up between the leaders representing the devolved political administrations of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on one hand, and the leader of the Westminster Government.
There is no Parliament of England (although it has its advocates). The Westminster Parliament has representatives from England, but also from the other parts of the United Kingdom.
This is what one commentator likened to a re-run of the West Lothian question.
The complications implied in the West Lothian question around borders continued, as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland administrations decided to exercise their rights by departing from the Westminster policy over easing the lockdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
The first impact was border complications, with people from England free to cross the border but then having to accept different rules once across. Later, the opening up of schools became another dilemma.
Polite efforts were made to indicate shared values and goals, but tensions were to remain. Boris Johnson had the more difficult task of speaking as Prime Minister of all four nations, and sometimes for England in this current divergence of views.
The Daily press conferences
All four countries held daily press conferences. Sturgeon, Foster, and Drakeford choose to lead the meetings every day. Johnson took to team approach, with various cabinet ministers who became daily celebrities among the political commentators in MSD and internet communities.This kept him largely out of the limelight.
Towards the end of the month he gained publicity of an unwelcome kind in what became known as the Cummingsgate affair. (More in future posts).
The Sturgeon challenge
Nichola Sturgeon took on the challenge in exemplary fashion. Although facing inevitable distractors from political opponents, there has been wide consensus that her daily performances have been successful. In comparison, with one exception, the Boris substitutes have ranged from adequate to abysmal. (The exception, The Chancellor, Ricci Sunak, who had fewer opportunities to shine. However, he seems to have been favoured as a future leader of the Conservative party by the supportive MSM papers. A future candidate for the LWD award?)
Sturgeon’s meetings took place in the early afternoon, and were covered more intensively than those of the other leaders, which did not attract the same attention outside their national news outlets.The challenge for all the leaders facing the press was communicating bad news including daily new deaths, with clarity and empathy.
Sturgeon was a convincing communicator. The train wrecks involving others were the right words came out, but increasingly appearing that they were being spoken uncomfortably from a script provided them.
In all, Nichola Sturgeon is a worthy winner of the LWD Leader of the Month award