ACCORDING to Boris Johnson, we are “in a war” against Covid-19. Using his rhetoric, can we see who is having a so-called “good war”; and who is not?

There can be no doubt that the NHS and care workers come out on top by every measure.

This is confirmed in recent polling by Survation. On the levels of trust in providing information about the pandemic, the NHS is trusted by 81% of people polled.

The NHS is applauded by all. Even by Tory MPs who cheered full-throatedly when they refused NHS workers a pay increase last year. (As we know generosity in Tory members is as scarce as rocking horse droppings.)

Also performing well is the Scottish Government and, in particular, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman. For them, there is the additional burden of coaching ill tutored and ill intentioned hacks. Despite this extra encumbrance, the Scottish Government has a trust rating of 70% in the same survey, giving it the second highest rating.

The general public, too, has earned plaudits for its steadfast adherence to Scottish Government advice.

If these are the heroes, who are messing things up away from the frontlines?

The BBC has failed the people. This could have been the broadcaster’s finest hour. It could have set a gold standard for probity and integrity in its news offerings. It could have spoken truth to power and held the Government’s feet to the fire to ensure the truth was told. Instead, it grovelled to Government needs and kowtowed to ministers. It has repeated fabrications when it ought to have challenged them, and propagated tabloid-like nonsense at a time when people need the truth.

We also ought to recognise a fundamental reality with reference to BBC Scotland. In extremis, even if every single BBC consumer in Scotland was opposed to its output, it could carry on regardless because its regulator is based elsewhere.

Worse, not only has it trashed its own reputation, it has left Scots exposed to the terminological inexactitudes of ministers, thereby misleading its consumers on a grand scale.

Its audience is repeatedly confused as the BBC fails to point out the different contexts of devolved governance. Thus, trust is undermined at a time when it has never been more vital.

Tory parliamentarians in Scotland have had a particularly poor war. They began on a conciliatory note, but this has been abandoned in favour of opening a second front against the Scottish Government. One assumes the logic is to minimise the effectiveness of Scottish initiatives by garnering headlines that untutored media south of the Border can exploit to show that despite Scottish successes in tackling the pandemic, matters elsewhere in Scotland are not so good.

With rare exceptions such as the Sunday National, the media generally has also had a very poor war.

Its commercial interests have been further damaged as it pursues a tabloid agenda when its readers are desperate for hard facts, unclouded by the “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality.

Alastair Campbell (pictured), Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, claims “the UK media is supine or slavish”. He goes on to applaud the world’s press for “seeing through the spin, the lies, the bull faeces of Johnson’s apparent success”.

An apparent non-combatant, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer seems to have adopted an approach based on offering minimum criticism of the UK Government, while wrapping himself in the flag. On a medium-term basis, this may make some sense as he needs to battle the Tories for the centre ground south of the Border. But it denies the rest of us a voice criticising Government incompetence and extremism.

Now, it is important to sound a note of caution. Recent legislation enables ministers north and south of the Border to impose sweeping new regulations, without popular approval.

In the absence of a written constitution to guide and constrain law-makers, this can be very dangerous. As legislators consider new laws in this time of pandemic, they labour under a system absent of meaningful constraints on their actions.

In most developed countries there are clear conditions attached to any new laws and regulations. There are specific principles that must be followed.

By and large, constitutions are endorsed and confirmed in a popular vote. The people set the limits on new laws. Any legislation that seeks to exceed these norms must often require to be approved by a significant majority.

Here this is not the case. We ought to be wary of any new laws that seek to improve our lot in these circumstances. The solution? Get a written, codified constitution. It makes sense and it makes everyone’s job easier, particularly in emergencies.

This column welcomes questions from readers