The hypocrisy of Catherine Calderwood

Public-health officials think it’s one rule for them and another for us.

Rob Lyons


The public humiliation and later resignation of Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, was a rare moment of hilarity amid the gloom of Covid-19.

Calderwood had emerged from the shadows of the Holyrood bureaucracy to encourage the nation to stay at home to protect the NHS. Admittedly, her public-information broadcasts were hardly stirring. She had a wooden delivery that made England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, look like Liberace and Madonna rolled into one. If James Dyson made a personality vacuum, it would look like Calderwood.

Nonetheless, Calderwood was enjoying her 15 minutes of fame until she was snapped at Earlsferry in Fife, having a lovely walk on the beach while staying at her second home. Strike one: unnecessary travel. Strike two: bringing her family and their possible plague infection to an unprepared rural area. This was like the Spanish bringing smallpox to the Aztecs.

At first, her excuse was that she had visited the property to check on it, knowing she wouldn’t be back there for some time. But then she admitted she had also visited it the previous weekend. She was forced into a grovelling apology, but it was inevitable she had to go.

Calderwood’s ‘crime’ was driving with the other members of her household in a fast-moving metal box on wheels about 45 miles from home in Edinburgh. Once in Earlsferry, she had managed to take her government-mandated exercise while socially distancing herself from non-members of her household. In other words, she examined the situation for herself, used her judgement and concluded that popping over to her second home for a bit of much-needed r’n’r away from the big city would benefit her and pose little risk to anyone else. And she was quite right.

Unfortunately, that’s not what the rest of us plebs can be trusted to do. We can’t be relied upon to get as far as the local park without infecting people left, right and centre. We, the dimwitted masses, collectively no brighter than a low-wattage light bulb, are potentially causing carnage by lying on a bit of grass in a public place or driving to the Peak District to walk, er, nowhere near anyone else. In the eyes of public health, thinking things through for yourself is a thoughtcrime.

So Calderwood’s real offence was forgetting the old adage ‘not in front of the children’. Her behaviour had called into question the logic of the public-health advice every bit as much as a little boy pointing at a naked emperor. And that would never do.

But that is the nature of public health today. For example, it is the public-health bureaucrats who want smoking banned from any public place in part to ‘denormalise’ it – in effect, to airbrush it from history. They want to add more and more warnings, the gorier the better, on cigarette packets. They even want health warnings on the cigarettes themselves. They’ve added warnings to booze and food, too.

In short, the public-health nutters believe we cannot be trusted to exercise our judgement about anything to do with health. And there ain’t no bigger public-health nutter than a Scottish public-health nutter. Scottish politicians have made it their mission to be in the vanguard of every illiberal lifestyle-restricting initiative going, from introducing the UK’s first smoking ban to slapping a minimum price on alcohol.

So farewell, Catherine Calderwood. It’s just a shame you couldn’t take the rest of the control freaks with you.

Rob Lyons is science and technology director at the Academy of Ideas and a spiked columnist.

Picture by: Getty.

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James Knight

7th April 2020 at 6:54 pm

Funny thing is smokers seem less likely to get it, though it is likely more serious if they do.

Also Benson & Hedges are working on a c19 vaccine. It is not clear if the vaccine involves smoking.

Ness Immersion

7th April 2020 at 11:17 pm

To reinforce James Knights point:

Dodgy Geezer

7th April 2020 at 5:25 pm

“…….In short, the public-health nutters believe we cannot be trusted to exercise our judgement about anything to do with health……”

Don’t stop at public health.

Safety is now responsible for making much of what used to be DIY now illegal. Home Schooling is inspected to ensure that it follows the National Curriculum closely and does not deviate into illegal modes of thought – indeed, the teachers who used to rule in their classrooms are now forbidden from using any except mandated techniques and ‘approved facts/subjects’. Workers of all kinds – professionals and manual workers alike have to work according to strict guidelines created by regulatory bodies staffed with people who have failed in that line of work and have been kicked upstairs to professional advice bodies.

And a whole cadre of people now instruct you in mindless subjects like being environmentally sound, and award companies medals on the strength of how much money they have contributed to the cause, and how many supernumerary workers they have taken on to check the ever-shrinking number of people who actually do the work..

Apologies to the Pythons –

Finbarr Bruggy

7th April 2020 at 5:21 pm

Good article in The Scotsman which asks why she was needed in the first place. Wasn’t Whitty enough without this unnecessary duplication? The paper also asked if Covid 19 treated Scots differently from the rest of the UK population. I think the SNP is showing signs of being in power too long. Discipline is falling apart, hubris has taken over.

popij pij2

7th April 2020 at 5:08 pm

Zonia making over 9k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people say to me how much money they can make connected so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my existence. This is what I do… SEEMore here

popij pij2

7th April 2020 at 5:06 pm

katherine Linda making over 9k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people say to me how much money they can make connected so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my existence. This is what I do… SEEMore here

Gordon Le Gopher

7th April 2020 at 4:49 pm

She’s not Scottish, she’s from Northern Ireland. She is a muppet though.

Gordon Le Gopher

7th April 2020 at 5:00 pm

I wonder what goes through these people heads when they do this kind of thing, surely knowing how bad it looks. Like Liverpool FC getting the tax payer to pay their cleaners while they keep paying Mo Salah and Firmino £10mil a year.

My dog does it. Every time I get home from work he’s taken another tea towel off the oven handle into the garden and shredded it. I come to the door and he’s so excited to see me but before I’ve even got to the garden he’s got into his bed with a sheepish look on his face, knowing he’s in trouble.

But he’s a dog, he’s a bit stupid. How the hell did this woman, who’s as stupid as my dog, become Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer in the first place?

Jonathan Marshall

7th April 2020 at 4:30 pm

Significant that the ghastly woman clung on to her job like a limpet until forced out. Not a shred of decency or honour.


7th April 2020 at 8:52 pm

Enough about Theresa May, what about Catherine Calderwood?

Jonathan Marshall

7th April 2020 at 10:02 pm

For once, one of your comments has made me smile!

Gerard Allan

7th April 2020 at 4:21 pm

I will bet she know that there was very little risk in what she was doing, especially as her family were along for the ride.
We the people are too stupid to understand grades of risk, or even to be given the information to make informed choices. After all we cannot even discuss the end of lockdown now, because we can only understand one message at a time.

Gerard Allan

7th April 2020 at 4:26 pm

And to stupid to spell knew.

Mark Houghton

7th April 2020 at 6:39 pm

And too stupid to not realise that ‘to stupid’ should have read ‘too stupid’. The irony is positively delicious.


7th April 2020 at 4:30 pm

The level of risk is not the point. As the CMO for Scotland she had appeared in adverts telling people to stay at home. It was utter hypocrisy for her to appear in those adverts and then completely undermine the government campaign by going against her own advice. If she didn’t obey government instructions why should anyone else?

Jim Lawrie

7th April 2020 at 4:46 pm

It was not hypocrisy, it was contempt.

A Marshal

7th April 2020 at 3:31 pm

‘And there ain’t no bigger public-health nutter than a Scottish public-health nutter’
bears repeating.
you should make this the title.

Jim Lawrie

7th April 2020 at 2:49 pm

It is not for Calderwood, writers on here or any of us to decide which rules apply to others but not to ourselves. Down that path lies lawlessness. The closing down of Universities before the government’s say so was another example of bureaucrats being contemptuous of the decisions of elected Politicians, and all for the sake of posing as anti-Tory. Caring not a jot about the herd immunity strategy – in fact harpooning it.
They are not so socialistc about refunding tuition and hall of residency fees, but have no problem billing those with nowhere else to go for an enforced Easter stay.
The rules are in place not to protect the fit and healthy, but to make it second nature for us to safeguard the health of those most at risk.

zonia sawyer

7th April 2020 at 2:23 pm

Hannah Richard making over 9k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people say to me how much money they can make connected so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my existence. This is what I do… Details Here

Andrew Mawdsley

7th April 2020 at 1:50 pm

Excellent article. I genuinely couldn’t stop laughing when I heard Calderwood had been bubbled and had to resign. Funnier still was that it happened at her second home. Just the place for all good (wo) men of the people to get caught flouting their own rules.

steve moxon

7th April 2020 at 1:35 pm

Isn’lt this standard female behaviour?
Female in-grouping behaviour and psychology is idiosyncratically egocentric and exclsuionary, in marked contrast to that of males, which is to readily identify with any symbolic grouping all-inclusively.
One rule for me (narrowly ‘us’) AND another for the rest of you: that could be the female mantra.
Look at the persistent unapologetic total hypocrisy of Harriet Harman and Dianne Abbott over their political position vis-a-vis their decision over their own childrens’ education.

Finbarr Bruggy

7th April 2020 at 5:15 pm

I hope you are joking but I fear not.

Dominic Straiton

7th April 2020 at 1:18 pm

All those Londoners who have decamped to their second homes in Devon and Cornwall dont realise their are only 9 icu beds in both counties. Good luck in your delusion.

Dominic Straiton

7th April 2020 at 1:20 pm

Where my daughter works its a shit show with all wards in infection in the same area.

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