Nicola Sturgeon accused of care home ‘failures’ by Davidson
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The SNP-led Scottish Government has been holding the daily question and answer sessions since March 2020. Ms Sturgeon is joined by cabinet members and clinical directors/scientists around three to four days a week at 12.15pm on the BBC.
But MSPs have today said that the Scottish First Minister is overstepping the mark and collectively voiced the FM should step down from fronting them after she raised the issue during FMQs today.
They claim Nicola Sturgeon should be replaced by a medical or science expert in the Scottish Government daily briefings, as they could give her an unfair election advantage.
Holyrood is set to be dissolved on March 25, ahead of the elections on May 6 which leaves a six-week pre-election period or purdah period.
During FMQs today, the First Minister referred to when Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie met with former BBC Scotland director Donalda McKinnon to address the issue.
The senior MSP voiced concerns to Ms MacKinnon that the briefings had become “increasingly political” stressing they are “no longer used” to relay information.
Speaking in Holyrood today, Ms Sturgeon said: “On many of the days when I’ve been seeking, to the best of my ability, to lead this country through the pandemic, Jackie Baillie has been writing letters to the BBC trying to stop me briefing the public.”
Miles Briggs MSP, Scottish Conservative Chief Whip, told the Express: “We support briefings lead by non-political civil servants to give key updates on the pandemic.
“However, it would be a mistake for the BBC to allow these broadcasts to stay on air during the election campaign.
“The SNP and Nicola Sturgeon have routinely misused these briefings to push political messages.
“This cannot be allowed to continue if we are to have a fair election, and I am confident Ofcom would agree.”
Alex Cole-Hamilton, Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP for Edinburgh Western, added: “An election is not just about one day where you cast your ballot, it is about the clash of ideas, the different visions for our country and the weeks of public meetings and conversations on doorsteps that accompany them.
“If votes can be both cast and counted safely then we should have it, but we have to allow socially distanced election campaigning to accompany that.
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“I’m concerned that we cannot ask the public to render a judgement on who they wish to serve them in Parliament, if the only voice they hear in that campaign is that of the First Minister from her lunchtime briefings, which she has signalled she will continue right up to polling day.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack claimed the BBC had made matters worse during the pandemic by broadcasting the daily coronavirus press conferences.
He added: “BBC Scotland has been very generous to her, giving her almost a daily political broadcast at lunchtime.
“It should be done by medical professionals.
“Does she need to be there when it’s really medical and health information that’s being imparted?
“I think there’s a question about impartiality as we get closer to the purdah period for a Hollyrood election.”
Mr Jack also urged BBC Scotland to review the First Minister’s daily appearances and branded them as the “Nicola Sturgeon Show”.
In response, a BBC Scotland spokesman said: “We’re still in the process of formulating our election coverage and we’ll be announcing that in due course.
They added: “‘Our coverage of coronavirus and public health issues in Scotland incorporates a range of voices and perspectives.
“This allows us to bring news and views from around Scotland and beyond, involving politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as commentators, analysts and other experts.
“We remain committed to having this broad coverage of voices and perspectives across all our news outlets on television, radio and online.”
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