Tories call for Nicola Sturgeon to end ‘party political broadcast’ daily briefings

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photograph: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Photograph: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA. - Credit: PA

The Tories in Scotland have complained that the BBC continues to air Nicola Sturgeon's daily coronavirus briefings - arguing that they have become party political broadcasts for the SNP.

The first minister wound up Conservative politicians after she explained why the Scottish government was not following the Westminster government in abandoning quarantine rules from July 10.

She accused Boris Johnson's government of making a shambles of the process, and said she wanted the confidence to be able to re-open Scotland safely.

She said: 'When so much is at stake as it is right now, we can't allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of, to be quite frank about it, another government's shambolic decision process.'

The comments led to one Tory politician fuming that it was 'absolute nonsense' that BBC Scotland allowed her briefings to go out live on television.

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A tweet from MSP Murdo Fraser, which was retweeted by Conservative politicians, wrote: 'It's absolute nonsense that @BBCScotlandNews are still broadcasting live every day a 30 minute Party Political Broadcast by the SNP, with no opportunity for a response by any other Party or contrary views expressed. This has to end.'

The SNP hit back, however, accusing the Tories of running 'scared'.

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MSP Stuart McMillan said: 'Communicating directly with the population the up to date information is important. Covid hasn't gone away. Why are you scared that information is shared?'

Scottish health secretary Jeane Freeman posted: 'Had no idea @ScotTories thought it 'absolute nonsense' for the Government of Scotland to speak directly to the people we are accountable to. Wow. And BTW, impugning senior clinical advisers is not a good look.'

Downing Street had been holding coronavirus briefings daily, but rapidly wound them down, favouring the events for key announcements.

Johnson has since announced proposals for briefings from his spokespeople will be broadcast, which could end up on television, a move which mimics the White House.

Last month a poll found the English believed the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments had performed better at handling the coronavirus crisis, compared to the Westminster government.

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