MY gran had a stock of locutions and adages for all occasions and every crooked paroxysm of human behaviour. Occasionally she would come to my rescue with one of them as I faced the dismay of my care-worn parents.

“A little folly now and then is cherished by the wisest men,” she’d remind them. Another favourite was deployed whenever she heard that a rogue had come to a bad end. As the rest of us suggested that jail was too good for him, she’d reflect that, rascal though he was, he was also “some poor mother’s son”.

She belonged to a generation that was much more apt to defer to authority and to assume that the best of intentions lay behind the actions of leaders. Being a deeply spiritual woman, she took solace in the belief that ordinary people came to occupy great positions only by the mercy of God. Curiously, this seemed to make her more indulgent of their errors, not less.

The experiences and choices of women like her are easy to patronise from the vantage point of later generations. She was never a radical and silently endured the fate of many smart women of her generation who had to hide their disdain when much less able men ponced about the place.

This didn’t make these women weak: far from it. Many of them had to bear the unspeakable pain and anguish of knowing that what remained of their sons, husbands and fathers lay unmarked in a French field, perhaps never to be visited.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson tweet exposes Julia Hartley-Brewer's hypocrisy

The business of building something normal from this desolation did not permit them to grieve for long, for this too would have been an indulgence. Nor did it permit many of them to agitate for change and an end to inequality: they were too busy fixing the broken men who did make it back and supporting families exposed to undiagnosed battle trauma manifest in alcohol abuse, depression and violence.

I think she would have been indulgent of Boris Johnson, too and perhaps even kindly disposed to him. In this national health emergency, she would have prayed that he be granted the wisdom to lead and the words to reassure and console. She would have prayed hard for his recovery from Covid-19 and counselled me to leave any questions over his conduct and choices for another day. And so I’m praying for the Prime Minister’s recovery, too.

Many of us on the left are compelled often to chastise his political values and the forces that lurk behind them. We’d be dishonest if we didn’t admit to an initial bat-squeak of schadenfreude at Johnson’s fate, ending up in the hands of a health service his party had previously scorned. This doesn’t mean we’d ever wish him any harm, only that he might come to acknowledge the daily heroism of our NHS practitioners that will continue long after this contagion has been tamed.

Johnson is the democratically elected leader of our country, put there by the overwhelming majority of the UK electorate. We need him to be strong and resolute during this period and in the months – probably years – that come after. We may conclude that he isn’t naturally endowed with the qualities we like to see in those whom fate has chosen to provide leadership in an emergency such as this.

This has become more apparent each day when you set his daily coronavirus updates alongside those of Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister’s clarity, eloquence and no-bullshit approach in these days suggest she was destined for this and that this is her time.

This is the Prime Minister we’ve been given, though, and if he’s spared to continue to lead there is a hope that the experience of this ordeal may have a positive impact on the rest of his premiership.

Perhaps for the first time in his life he is coming to an understanding that neither the privileges of his birth nor the gilded procession of his life can help him in his current situation.

READ MORE: Mayor sorry for Boris Johnson 'deserves this' Facebook post

IF he is to survive this ordeal, we must hope that it will be accompanied by a profound appreciation of the NHS and something more besides.

Even before his confinement, he and the government he leads can’t have been impervious to the spontaneous outpouring of love that the British people retain for those who make our National Health Service work.

Neither can it have escaped them that the lives of many Britons are being preserved by the expertise and self-sacrifice of thousands of immigrants – EU and non-EU alike. After several years of being made to feel unwanted, or like second-class citizens, they now hold our fate in their hands. Perhaps the Prime Minister will now realise that there can be no place in British public life for Nigel Farage and his acolytes, and that any lingering connections he still retains with this man must now be severed.

Perhaps, too, the BBC will now ensure Farage’s number is deleted from the speed-dial function of their producers’ phones, its natural home this past decade. Coronavirus demands a response from humanity that rebukes the gospel of fear and loathing of others.

The Prime Minister may also be experiencing something of the challenges that many of his voters routinely encounter beyond coronavirus.

The effects of austerity and the punitive measures of our benefits system were often gleefully pressed home by Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel, each twist of the knife accompanied by their callous grins.

Perhaps, now that his life is in the hands of the NHS, Johnson will come to understand that while the social policies of his party might make some departmental savings here and there they are also an onerous burden on our health service.

Who knows, he may also come to realise that the practice of stealth-selling portions of the NHS to private speculators undermines its ability to react in a situation where many people suddenly require its attention at the same time.

And yet, my prayers for the Prime Minister don’t come with these pre-conditions attached. He is a human being made in the image of God and that alone qualifies him for compassion. This too is all that’s required to be treated by our NHS: not privilege, wealth or position; just your membership of the human race.

Scotland is in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.