Publish date: 2023-03-19 11:16:00
Did viewers want to hear about “stop the boats” and the Home Secretary’s visit to Rwanda? The media who hitched a ride with Suella Braverman thought that was the story of the day (Sky News was not invited, as presenter Sophy Ridge was keen to point out).
Or was the story “stop the vote” after the continuing chaos in the race to become SNP leader and First Minister?
Or “stop Boris Johnson” ahead of his crunch appearance before the Commons privileges committee on Wednesday?
For politics red in tooth and claw it was hard to beat what was happening in Scotland. As long as you could keep pace with events, that is.
Sophy Ridge explained the difficulty in the introduction to her pre-recorded interview with leadership contender Kate Forbes.
“Kate Forbes does not do interviews on Sunday for religious reasons,” said Ridge. “Usually it would be no big deal to pre-record an interview with a politician, but when it comes to the SNP it turns out two days really is an awfully long time in politics.
“Since her interview the head of communications quit after unwittingly giving our false information about SNP membership numbers, and now the party’s chief executive, Peter Murrell, has also resigned after taking responsibility for the fiasco.”
A pre-recorded interview clearly had been a problem on a fast-moving story like this. Sky should be commended for its transparency. It is the first time I have heard an interviewer bring up Sunday working in relation to Ms Forbes. What is not clear is how this would operate if she became First Minister. Does it, for example, only apply to media interviews or would it extend to Scottish Government business in general?
On Ridge on Sunday, Ms Forbes said she did not have concerns about the integrity of the party’s election.
“I have full confidence in the integrity of the election. I’m certainly confident that whoever is elected is the person who SNP members will have chosen.”
BBC1’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg was luckier, or wiser. Kuenssberg had spoken to Ms Forbes “an hour or so” after the SNP chief executive quit on Saturday, and a day after the resignation of media chief Murray Foote on the Friday.
Was she confident that the contest was being run fairly, asked Kuenssberg, or would she still like there to be an independent auditor?
“I have full confidence and trust in the process,” she replied. “The point I made around an independent auditor was to try and give as much trust and confidence to those that were voting. It’s fairly standard common practice in election contests for there to be that third party independent auditing, and I would hope that we can get to the end of this contest knowing that the decisions that SNP members are taking when they vote is the decision that they truly want.”
During the panel discussion later, it was Ms Forbes’ soon-to-be former boss who came under fire. Justine Roberts, founder and chief executive of the Mumsnet website, said of Nicola Sturgeon: “There are some people on Mumsnet who certainly don’t share her beliefs or policy on self-identification but generally speaking she has been a great advert for women.
“What I would say is any business leader has to have a succession plan and she seems to have completely failed on that. Look at the chaos we’ve got now.”
BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show was top of the broadcasters with a live interview with Mike Russell, SNP president and now interim chief executive.
“This has not been an edifying process,” he told presenter Martin Geissler. “There hasn’t been a contested leadership in the SNP for 19 years, and it shows.”
He said he did not know what the membership numbers were because they were reported once a year. When published they were “a surprise” to him.
On the drop in members from 104.000 two years ago to 72,000 today, Geissler asked who had been “sitting on” those figures.
“We were losing members and we were losing members that we should have known about, absolutely,” said Mr Russell. “We clearly were not told about that. That is something I want to know why that took place, but I don’t want to know it this week.
“What I want to know this week is have we got a process we can complete and we can get a new leader of the party and somebody who will have to then gain the trust of the people of Scotland.”
Publish date: 2023-03-19 11:16:00