Tory MSP Murdo Fraser wants the BBC to stop broadcasting the daily coronavirus briefings from the Scottish Government. He claims that it’s ‘a 30-minute party political broadcast by the SNP, with no opportunity for a response by any other party or contrary views expressed’.
Let’s start with the obvious. These are not party-political broadcasts by the SNP, it’s the Scottish Government informing the Scottish public on what is currently happening during the coronavirus crisis.
Valuable information that could save lives is disseminated as well as key information on the number of people infected, the numbers in intensive care and the number of deaths from this virus. Essential information from senior clinical advisers is also given on how the public can protect themselves as well as information on any changes to the lockdown restrictions. We’re in the middle of a pandemic that is killing people all across the globe – yet Murdo Fraser apparently doesn’t want anyone to know how it’s impacting on Scotland!
Also, it tends to be a lot longer than 30 minutes, usually it’s around an hour – has Murdo Fraser bothered to watch it? The First Minister tends to give the majority of the time to journalists – who do themselves no favours by the questions they ask. You don’t have to wonder for long why the printed press is failing or why fewer people watch the mainstream news organisations when you hear the tripe the journalists come up with! Maybe Murdo Fraser simply thinks the journalists aren’t up to the task of holding the First Minister to account – to be fair he may have a point here!
Of course, the reason why it’s SNP politicians at the briefings is so simple that you would have thought Murdo may have picked it up by now – the SNP won the election! If Murdo was capable of actually winning a constituency seat (rather than repeatedly rely on scraping through on the regional top up list) then maybe the Tories could form an administration. Aye Right! Murdo Fraser seems to think that the Scottish Government should only be questioned by opposition politicians, but this already happens weekly in the Scottish Parliament. Has he not noticed the First Minister giving regular briefings at First Minister’s Questions where all members are allowed to raise questions? Has he been asleep all this time?
If Murdo Fraser thinks trying to communicate direct to the public in Scotland is a bad idea is he also asking the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do what he has suggested? Has he fired off an email to No 10 Downing Street demanding that the Prime Minister only gives briefings on coronavirus to MPs? Of course he hasn’t. In fact I don’t remember Murdo complaining that his Tory counterparts in Westminster have simply stopped giving their daily coronavirus briefings. The general consensus is the line up of serial liars including the Prime Minister was not going well and the briefings only served to underline how poorly the Westminster Government was doing in comparison to the devolved administrations.
The last word on this issue however, must go to the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeane Freeman, who said: ““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.”