NEVER mind toilet rolls – is it time to start stockpiling tin foil?

With barbecue season approaching (well, we can dream), anyone living near Jackie Baillie should think about getting their supplies in now. She’ll be needing multiple rolls for her new metallic headgear and who knows, maybe she’ll be lining her jackets with the stuff too.

The notorious purveyor of pish has hit the news this week for spreading the conspiracy theory that Nicola Sturgeon announced Aberdeen’s return to lockdown to distract attention away from the controversy surrounding the school exam results.

It’s not yet clear whether the deputy leader of Scottish Labour believes the First Minister falsified some Covid-19 data to support her cunning ruse, or went the whole hog and deliberately infected some unsuspecting pub-goers in order to provide a well-timed smokescreen.

READ MORE: Jackie Baillie urged to apologise after Aberdeen lockdown tweet

You have to marvel at the way in which opposition MSPs in Scotland repeatedly grab hold of solid opportunities for scrutiny and criticism of the Scottish Government, then run for the touchline only to immediately face-plant into the mud.

Think more questions must be asked about deaths in care homes? Argue that the daily coronavirus briefings – at which journalists put questions to the First Minister – should be scrapped, on the basis they are like party political broadcasts.

Worried about the impact of blended learning in schools? Slate the Scottish Government for announcing plans for a full return to lessons in light of reduced infection rates.

Outraged about the poorer pupils being disproportionality denied their estimated grades? Approvingly tweet “A classic diversionary tactic – wow” to endorse the wild claim that closing down Aberdeen was a way to avoid Nicola Sturgeon being “eaten alive by the press” on Wednesday.

We have, of course, seen plenty of politicians trying to make political capital out of the current crisis – and, in the case of the Tories funnelling cash to chums with highly dubious businesses credentials, we’ve seen them making capital full stop. But there’s a difference between a cheap shot and conspiracy theory – between hot air and warm urine – and Baillie’s latest emission clearly crosses the line.

READ MORE: Anger as Scottish Labour spreads conspiracy theory about Aberdeen lockdown

This isn’t merely the latest in a toxic stream of gaffes from the woman who laughed along at a Highland games stall encouraging people to smash crockery with Nicola Sturgeon’s face on it.

This isn’t just another example of her trademark bad taste – it’s potentially dangerous.

What are residents of Aberdeen to make of the suggestion that they are having their movements restricted and their rights curtailed simply because the government can’t stand the heat over the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s controversial moderation system? How might people like Baillie raising questions about the validity of the decision affect compliance with the rules?

If people believe the decision has been guided by political opportunism, not scientific evidence, they will surely be less likely to modify their behaviour. Sure, pubs and restaurants will be closed, but it is up to individuals to ensure they only meet friends outdoors and don’t travel further than they need to for recreational purposes.

Why, they might ask themselves, should we suffer just because the First Minister wanted to dodge tricky questions? If they make the mistake of thinking Jackie Baillie

has her finger on the pulse – or indeed that the moribund Scottish Labour actually has a pulse – it will logically follow that they are being used as pawns in a game of political chess. It will make them question whether the risk of infection has really changed.

At a time when it’s vitally important for everyone to stay focused on what really matters – preventing a second wave of Covid-19 cases that results in serious illness and death, while trying to get children back to school and adults back to work – roasters like Baillie are muddying the waters and backing up the cisterns with outlandish claims. Perhaps the MSP for Dumbarton is looking to the president of the United States for cues on how to cause chaos and confusion at a time when we need calm and clarity, and we should count ourselves lucky she isn’t prescribing bleach martinis to those locked down at home.

She was deluded enough to try tweeting Donald Trump back in 2018 when searching for answers about how Prestwick Airport was being used. “Do you think the Scottish Government should be using Scottish taxpayers [sic] money to subsidise the US Air Force and Turnberry Hotel?” she asked him. “Would be really helpful to have your view.”

Oddly enough the president didn’t get back to her. It’s not often I suggest that we should follow Trump’s lead, but perhaps in this one instance he has the right idea – that in general the best response to Jackie Baillie is to just ignore her. But on this occasion what she’s saying must be challenged.

This isn’t just poor form or bad judgment – it stinks.