I’m not a fan of New Year resolutions but there are a few I’d like to see our political leaders make for 2022.
They concern Covid, independence, Keir Starmer, and social media.
First Covid. And 2022 must be the year we either finally defeat the virus (which is highly unlikely) or more probably finally learn to live with it without permanently shutting down life as we know it.
We can’t continue to run in fear from a virus which has caused death and destruction physically, economically and mentally.
Vaccinations and boosters were discovered and deployed at a lightning speed.
They have had an incredible impact – one which we didn’t dare hope for so quickly when the virus first appeared.
But as great scientific minds, such as Professor Sarah Gilbert, the architect of the Oxford vaccine, have warned, we must now invest seriously in research and staff, and manufacturing institutions to be prepared for other potential pandemics.
Huge strides have been made in the approach to the development of the vaccines and it would be criminal not to boost that great work by failing to invest heavily to further develop our ability to respond to future threats.
The first mission of government is to protect the population, and in this situation we need to be on a war footing.
"We started thinking about Disease X before 2020" 💉
Prof Sarah Gilbert and Dr Catherine Green created the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in 10 months when it usually takes around 10 years.
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) July 7, 2021
That will require all the great resources of the state to be deployed in a fight which must be won.
Independence movement needs to quit girning and get governing
Next year must also be the year that the independence movement stops its continual whining about Westminster and actually finds creative ways to use the powers it has as a devolved government.
Instead, it has tinkered round the edges in tackling these major issues, blaming the Tories for all of our ills.
While much of that criticism is fair, the current administration in Holyrood must develop some fresh policy thinking for those who desperately need help.
It was unable to persuade sufficient numbers of Scots that leaving the UK was a winner at the last referendum.
Now the broader independence movement, but mainly the SNP, needs to stop its constant and futile girning about Westminster and prove they can govern better for those who most need it.
If they don’t the game will finally be up.
They’ll be seen as a party thirled to grievance and maintenance of their power, but of little real substance.
Labour’s New Year resolution might benefit us all
Meantime, as Labour finally start to make progress in the polls – and begin looking like a potential alternative government in waiting to Boris Johnson’s Conservative party – Keir Starmer must resolve to show how he can make the UK a fairer and better place for all.
To do that he’ll need to be brutal with those in his party who are happier to continually protest and play the victim, rather than take power and address difficult issues with practical measures and real resolve.
Those who wish for independence can like it or lump it but we’re still in the UK and liable to be so for a very long time yet.
And in my book Starmer and Labour are infinitely preferable to a sleaze ridden Tory party.
Social media – where identities are hidden and reputations are ruined
And finally we need a resolution to tackle the scourge of social media companies who should make 2022 the year they dispense with anonymity on their platforms.
The ability to hide from accountability has been abused by too many nasty folk for far too long.
The major companies must find the courage to ban anonymous accounts in the coming year – or be made to do so by governments.
If folk don’t have the courage to put their name to their views and their opinions then they don’t deserve to be able to air them without recourse for those damaged by their falsehoods.
And it’s time to hold social media companies legally liable for what is published on their sites.
The damage which is now being done to reasoned debate and argument in every sphere of life is too great for anonymity to be allowed to continue.
It’s an outrage to permit allegations and falsehoods to be made on a social media forum where the accused has no notice of the complaint, and no opportunity to defend themselves before a malicious untruth is levelled at them for all to read.
The old adage that a lie is halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on is a valid one.
Too many folk are ready to believe that there’s no smoke without fire when in fact there’s very often a large plume without even the hint of a spark to justify it.
In far too many areas of public debate the merchants of menace have become increasingly unaccountable.
It’s time to force them out of the shadows or shut them up.