‘It’s bizarre’: Philippa Whitford hits back at Lord’s briefing complaint

DR Philippa Whitford has said it is “bizarre, though hardly surprising” that a Labour peer is “singing from the same hymn sheet as the Tories” after he placed a formal complaint to BBC Scotland over the First Minister’s daily coronavirus briefings.

George Foulkes revealed on Twitter last night that he had placed a complaint with the broadcaster, claiming that Nicola Sturgeon’s updates on the pandemic broke Ofcom rules.

He said: “I’ve put a formal complaint to @BBCScotland that they are breaking Ofcom & BBC Charter rules on impartiality by broadcasting daily broadcasts by the SNP leader without the right of reply to Opposition parties.

“Others could follow this example!”

Users on the site were quick to point out to the former MP and MSP that there is still an ongoing global pandemic, with commentator Angela Haggerty saying: “Honestly, this kind of party politics around the pandemic is infuriating. I tune into the briefings every single day because it’s a public health broadcast & I want to know every development.

“I want to protect my son. And tbh it’s far more helpful/informative than combative FMQs.”

SNP MP Whitford told The National: “It’s bizarre – though hardly surprising – that Labour politicians are singing from the same hymn sheet as the Tories in their opposition to keeping the public updated and informed in the middle of a global health pandemic.

“While Boris Johnson has squirmed out of press briefings, the Scottish Government coronavirus briefings have provided people with clarity in these turbulent times.

“It’s fair to say that the First Minister’s engagement with the public during this pandemic will be a factor in why her approval ratings are three times as high as the UK Prime Minister.

“While Labour and the Tories moan from the sidelines, the SNP Scottish Government will remain focussed on tackling the coronavirus crisis.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson added: “The regular media briefings continue to be the most used source of information about the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland and are used to disseminate the latest public health guidance on coronavirus, as well as important information about services and support for people and the economy.

“They also provide an opportunity for scrutiny from the media with 10 to 20 members of the media participating every day.”

Downing Street had been holding its own conferences from March to June before cancelling them. The Scottish Government’s updates have been linked to the First Minister’s soaring approval ratings in recent polls.

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