SOME weeks ago, preparing to send out my annual report to my constituents (a publication that is now on indefinite hold) I worked out that my Dunoon office has to deal with an average of 195 new cases a month.

They can range from simple complaints about a ferry service to long running complex problems involving a number of different agencies. All of them will require staff time and effort, and of course many will take much longer than a month to resolve.

It seemed an impressive enough figure then, but it is as nothing compared to the caseload my office and I have dealt with in the last seven days. On at least one of them we exceeded that total in under 24 hours.

That is not a complaint nor an exception. All of my colleagues, across the parties, are reporting the same thing – a massive tsunami of constituency work as, quite understandably, individuals, companies, organisations and communities try to get to grips with the extraordinary circumstances of the times, which have been thrust upon us all with no warning and great speed.

Although these emails and phone calls can be about almost anything, most of them have focused on seeking clarity with regard to what is and isn’t essential, whether the regulations on lockdown are yet in force and particularly about what help will be available for small business and, in the case of my constituency of Argyll & Bute especially tourist related small business.

Sometimes the inquires are easy to answer, particularly those which are based on misapprehension or speculation. Sometimes there is a ready response because we have given it many times before. Sometimes the question needs to be passed on to someone else.

And sometimes, alas, there is either no answer or not the one an individual wants and needs.

The quicker a regulation or scheme is devised, the less chance there will have been for consultation and the greater, therefore, the likelihood that there will be anomalies or unforeseen consequences.

That is by no means a criticism. Officials and Ministers in both Governments, north and south of the Border, have been working with huge dedication every possible hour (and more) to try and get solutions in place so that as many individuals and business as possible can be helped in some tangible way.

However the complexity of devising, for example, a system to support the self-employed is great and there also needs to be confidence that the capacity to operate it will be there when required. The danger of putting something in place which inadvertently haemorrhages resource to the wrong places is also ever present in Ministers’ and officials’ minds.

Making those points is difficult enough. But having to do so to individuals in distress who are facing financial hardship and sometimes the loss of their business is even tougher.

MSPs are often there to be shouted at because they meet people at stressful times who may have been badly treated by the very system they are seen to represent. MSPs’ staff can experience the same and, although it is never right and always needs to be called out, it is understandable.

You cannot avoid the odd idiot who thinks this is the perfect time to make the snide remark or the offensive social media attack on politicians or those who work for them, but this week they have been in an even smaller minority than usual.

Most people recognise and appreciate the effort that is being put in, even if they haven’t seen at first hand my three constituency staff regularly working until very late from their kitchens or bedrooms, desperate to get a result for those who need more than kind words.

But they are not unique. Across parties and Parliaments, in councils up and down these islands and indeed globally I am sure that all those who are involved in what an American commentator once called “show business for ugly people” are trying to do everything they can for the people who have trusted them to lead.

Leadership was a theme of the debate on the UK Coronavirus Bill at Holyrood last week. Willie Rennie, Ruth Davidson and Murdo Fraser all spoke about it, as did I in my summing up.

But leadership is not just about passing legislation to save lives, vital as that is.

It is about making sure that every citizen gets the very best of support from their elected representatives times of crisis.

For we are all in it together. And we must win through.