Nicola Sturgeon on military support in Scotland vaccine rollout
It comes as the SNP complained to the BBC claiming their politicians were not appearing enough in Nicola Sturgeon’s COVID-19 briefings. A letter, written by SNP depute leader Keith Brown, claimed opposition parties including the Scottish Conservatives received more coverage than the ruling Scottish party.
In a letter, Mr Brown said he was “deeply concerned” after the BBC changed the name of the programme and format which broadcasts the First Minister’s briefings.
The name was changed from “Coronavirus Update” to “BBC Scotland News Special” in October after opposition parties claimed Ms Sturgeon coronavirus briefings needed more political balance last year.
Mr Brown said it was “deeply unfair and grossly misrepresentative” for the SNP to only get coverage when Nicola Sturgeon leads the briefings with an uninterrupted statement for 10 to 15 minutes, followed by questions.
However, the Scottish Conservatives said in an average week of the BBC briefings, the SNP receive approximately 90-100 minutes of coverage compared to roughly 10 minutes for themselves.
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Miles Briggs MSP, Scottish Conservative chief whip, told Express.co.uk: “Not content with leading a daily televised briefing, the SNP now want the right to reply to themselves.
“It’s madness and it would be laughable if the result of their pressure and lobbying of the BBC wasn’t so serious.
“They are determined to turn Scotland into a one-party state where only SNP voices are heard.
“On the current evidence, they’re succeeding.”
Mr Briggs claimed Ms Sturgeon had used the coronavirus pandemic as a “campaign platform and has disrespected and bypassed the Scottish Parliament on a number of occasions.”
He continued: “It’s clear that the First Minister is happy to turn the briefings political whenever it suits the SNP’s agenda.
“The very act of holding the briefings becomes political when SNP leaders claim on BBC television that independence is an ‘essential priority’ for Scotland’s recovery from Covid, as the Deputy First Minister has done recently.
“It is critical in an election year that the failings of this SNP Government are exposed and SNP ministers are held accountable.”
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In a letter to BBC Scotland, Mr Brown wrote: “Constituents of mine, who are also your audience, have contacted me and have rightly pointed out that the First Minister’s only focus is on public health and pandemic-related matters – indeed, the First Minister, as any regular viewer will know, goes out of her way to avoid making political points even when invited to by journalists.
“So why is the BBC enabling non-SNP politicians to have a ‘free hit’?
“I urge you to reconsider the format of and our exclusion from this programme as a matter of urgency.”
BBC Scotland, which is led by new director Steve Carson, previously caused confusion amongst Scots after they announced they would reduce its live broadcast of the daily COVID-19 announcements from the Scottish Government.
Going forward, corporation chiefs said it would base it’s briefings coverage on “editorial merit” while continuing to stream them online.
The decision sparked much confusion amongst viewers, who were left unsure as to where the programme would be shown each day.
A BBC spokesperson said: “The BBC continues to deliver on multiple platforms the Scottish Government’s Covid Briefings – particularly at this time given the state of the pandemic.
“We are also committed to delivering on our obligations around impartiality and we therefore hear from a range of other voices – either political or public health experts – on our BBC1 Scotland offer to our audiences.”
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