Sorry, however this rising apology tradition tells us all we have to learn about our public figures and political masters

Hole apologies abound in public life – and final week there was a chief instance from Scotland’s virtue-signalling police chief.

Jo Farrell stated she was sorry for ‘current and historic injustices’ suffered by ‘lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex’ folks.

Final yr her predecessor Sir Iain Livingstone branded his personal power institutionally racist and discriminatory in a rare act of self-sabotage (shortly earlier than retiring).

Police Scotland officers had been stated to be livid over Chief Constable Jo Farrell’s apology, issued on social media final week

Rank-and-file cops – those that stay after enormous cuts to their numbers – and retired high brass are livid at Ms Farrell’s assertion.


That they had been successfully labelled as bigots by Sir Iain, a judgment instantly backed up by Ms Farrell when she changed him final October, and now implicitly she’s including homophobia to the record of her officers’ sins – or that’s the notion amongst many disillusioned bobbies.

However politicians and public sector bosses have grown used to expressing heartfelt contrition for previous wrongs for which they weren’t accountable – hoping for good publicity.

As Sir Iain found, it doesn’t at all times work like this with the police watchdog saying potential recruits had withdrawn their functions after his bombshell racism declare, which left many officers feeling ‘disenchanted’.

Ms Farrell’s assertion got here out of the blue on social media, with quite a bit much less fanfare than Sir Iain’s high-profile declare of institutional racism.

Frankly, her apology doesn’t make a lot sense as a result of she’s saying sorry for legal guidelines the police didn’t formulate – that’s not their job.

Roddy Dunlop, dean of the School of Advocates, identified final week that the Chief Constable’s phrases had been ‘well-meaning, little question; and little question there have been bigots within the police’.

However he highlighted that she was ‘apologising for previous legal guidelines’, and ‘nevertheless reprehensible these legal guidelines are to 2024 eyes, the responsibility of the police is and at all times has been to implement the legislation, to not query or apologise for it’.

Police implement legal guidelines agreed by politicians after rigorous debate and scrutiny (effectively, that’s the idea), and generally they’re landed with basket-case laws such because the SNP’s Hate Crime Act, which has introduced a deluge of largely nameless allegations – many vexatious.

It has turn out to be virtually modern to express regret for errors which had nothing to do with the individual making the apology, ostensibly as a result of they or their advisers assumed it might make them look good – a phenomenon we would label the cult of apology.

In April 2022, Nicola Sturgeon apologised to the 1000’s of girls who had been ‘vilified’ and executed after being accused of witchcraft.

She stated they’d suffered an ‘egregious historic injustice, pushed at the least partially by misogyny in its most literal sense: hatred of girls’.

The ‘deep misogyny’ motivating the act had not been consigned to historical past, she asserted, including that at the moment it ‘expresses itself not in claims of witchcraft however in on a regular basis harassment, on-line rape threats and sexual violence’.

But final yr the SNP Authorities shelved plans to again a deliberate legislation that may absolve the ladies of the crimes dedicated between the mid-Sixteenth and mid-18th centuries.

It’s potential that – belatedly – ministers had realised there have been extra urgent present-day priorities to be getting on with, together with fixing a damaged NHS and failing faculties, although they’ve didn’t sort out these issues (or express regret for making them worse).

When there are apologies for real scandals, they’re typically onerous to take critically.

Ms Sturgeon apologised final week for the failure to twin the A9 on time – however naturally insisted her authorities hadn’t ‘tousled’.

You may marvel who else may have been accountable, given the SNP has been in energy for practically 20 years – however Ms Sturgeon’s rationalization didn’t present a lot of a solution to that query.

Earlier this yr, she apologised to bereaved households for the deaths of 1000’s of Scots throughout her dealing with of the Covid pandemic, however not everybody was satisfied by her tears – Scottish Secretary Alister Jack stated she may ‘cry from one eye if she needed to’.


Former well being secretary Michael Matheson apologised final week for operating up a near-£11,000 invoice on a parliamentary iPad, however solely after he was hit with a suspension and advised his pay could be docked – and he’s nonetheless stubbornly clinging to his job as an MSP.

Typically apologies are clearly tactical however backfire badly. In 2012, a contrite Nick Clegg (now Sir Nick) apologised for promising to oppose any enhance in tuition charges, which was then forged apart when the Lib Dems took workplace with the Tories.

He stated: ‘We made a pledge, we didn’t keep on with it, and for that I’m sorry.’

That expression of regret did the Lib Dems few favours, as voters later forged them into electoral oblivion.

Former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick had the final snort and is now a high-flying government at Meta, which owns Fb, reportedly incomes a wage of £2.7million – with a bonus value virtually £10million in 2022.

Apologies are comparatively straightforward to make, so long as the legal professionals have checked out them line by line earlier than they’re said in public in fact, and may generate some beneficial headlines – or at the least headlines which distract from different failures (for which, usually, no apology is forthcoming).


As for Ms Farrell, her most important act since beginning her job final yr was enlisting an on-duty site visitors officer to chauffeur her 120 miles from Edinburgh to her dwelling in Northumberland, when her practice was cancelled.

Admittedly, she did concern a humiliating public apology – albeit solely after she was discovered.

However what about an apology from Ms Farrell for failing victims of ‘minor’ crimes? Investigating crime is the job of the police, in spite of everything.

The Chief Constable has declared that the cash-strapped power can now not afford to totally examine all offences.

In case your lawnmower is stolen from the backyard shed or your automotive is vandalised, you’ll most likely get a reference quantity for the insurer after a cursory telephone name – assuming you may get via on the 101 non-emergency quantity.

Police do have sufficient time, nevertheless, to file particulars of ‘non-crime hate incidents’, and as we reported on Saturday this might have an effect on the job prospects of the alleged perpetrator – despite the fact that no offence has been dedicated.

As Tory MSP Murdo Fraser has discovered, it’s onerous to extract an official apology in such circumstances – certainly one of his tweets criticising the SNP Authorities was reported to police as a hate incident by a trans activist, main him to threaten authorized motion.

Sorry to say it, however the burgeoning apology tradition is a charade which tells you all you might want to learn about our shameless public figures and political masters.

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