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Journalists barred from Nicola Sturgeon campaign launch

Conor Matchett 2022Nicola Sturgeon has been criticised after journalists were barred from the Scottish National Party’s local elections campaign launch.

Only broadcasters such as the BBC and STV received an invitation to the event, held in Glasgow on Friday.

The SNP has defended the move, claiming it was not a “typical launch event”.

But it has sparked criticism from editors and journalists, as well as political rivals.

Speaking to HTFP about the decision, The Scotsman’s deputy political editor Conor Matchett, pictured, said: “Nicola Sturgeon was rightly praised during the pandemic for fronting up to press scrutiny as part of her daily briefings.

“Sadly, her party has regressed to wishing the press away rather than accepting we have an integral role in democratic accountability.

“The exclusion of print journalists from election events by the SNP is a repeat of a pattern that extends to the Scottish Government, who, within the last month, barred any questions from the press at two major economic strategy announcements and events.

“The ultimate aim of such an approach is to control the media narrative. It deserves being called out as unacceptable.”

Posting on Twitter on Friday, Conor’s editor Neil McIntosh added: “Scotsman reporters, along with the rest of the written media, aren’t invited to the SNP’s election launch today.

“I suppose when you expect to walk the forthcoming elections this is something you think you can do. But it’s not a great look.”

Rival parties have also shared their displeasure at the snub.

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “This is a remarkable display of both arrogance and cowardice from the First Minister.

“It feels more like the scrutiny-dodging antics of Donald Trump than the actions of a leader at ease with her government’s record.”

Scottish Labour business manager Neil Bibby accused Ms Sturegeon of “trying to dodge scrutiny”, while Miles Briggs, local government spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives, branded her “out of touch” over the move.

An SNP spokesman told The Scotsman the event was not a “typical launch event” and that there would be opportunities throughout the campaign for journalists to ask questions of Ms Sturgeon.