First Minister candidate Humza Yousaf has accused the BBC of caving in to pressure from a “right-wing Government” after former England striker Gary Lineker was taken off the air for comments made on Twitter.
Lineker was told to step back from hosting Saturday’s Match Of The Day programme after he compared the language used to launch a new Government asylum seeker policy with that of 1930s Germany.
Fellow presenters and pundits then boycotted the show as well as other sports programmes on the BBC – resulting in the corporation saying it would air only “limited sport programming” over the weekend.
But Yousaf gave his backing to Lineker, as he said the BBC “need to take a long hard look at themselves”.
Speaking at a hustings event in Glasgow held as part of the contest to become the next SNP leader and Scottish first minister, Yousaf said the corporation had made a “mess” of the situation.
The current Scottish Health Secretary stated: “Gary Lineker didn’t just hit the back of the net with his refugee comments, he scored a hat-trick. He was absolutely right.
“It seems to be, for the BBC you can have free speech when you are talking up the Conservatives, but you can’t have free speech when you are doing them down and talking about their abhorrent, their immoral practices.”
He continued: “I’m a supporter of public broadcasting and I would be in an independent Scotland too.
“But my goodness, caving in to pressure from a right-wing Government – the BBC need to take a long hard look at themselves.”
His comments came as he and the other candidates running in the SNP leadership contest – Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and former community safety minister Ash Regan – were asked about broadcasting, and if more powers over this could be handed to the Scottish Parliament.
With powers over this currently reserved to Westminster, Regan said: “I don’t think they’re going to give us the powers, even if we ask them repeatedly, and extremely nicely.”
Forbes said she believed broadcasting should be accountable to Holyrood, saying: “This is not about accountability to the SNP … it is just accountability to Scottish representatives.”