Media to be allowed at leadership hustings after SNP U-turn

STV News understands that broadcast journalists will now be able to share pooled footage.

Media to be allowed at leadership hustings with Forbes, Yousaf and Regan after SNP U-turn Scottish Government

Journalists will now be allowed to attend the SNP leadership hustings after candidates Kate Forbes, Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan all came out in support of media access.

Earlier on Tuesday, the party had said that members of the SNP would quiz the candidates next month in private, in order to create a “safe space” for the events.

However, following backlash, the party has made a U-turn and will now allow media to be present on what is known as a “pool” basis – which limits the number of journalists in attendance but ensures the content is made widely available.

Members of the press will also be able to gather reaction from outside the hustings.

SNP members will take part in a two-week ballot to choose the party’s new leader from March 13, with the winner to be named on March 27.

The three leadership candidates will take part in a televised debate on STV at 9pm on Tuesday, March 7.

Hosted by STV political editor Colin Mackay, the broadcaster will question candidates before they cross-examine each other.

The leadership hopefuls will also be asked questions from members of the Scottish public.

The 70-minute programme will be shown live on STV and the STV Player from the broadcaster’s Pacific Quay headquarters in Glasgow.

It will be the first time the three candidates will be able to battle it out in public after a leadership challenge was triggered following Sturgeon’s resignation earlier this month.

The candidates spoke out in support of the media attending on Tuesday evening, with Ash Regan saying that “as candidates, we have a duty to be held to scrutiny”.

She continued: “I firmly believe we should allow access and ask that the media carry the proceedings fairly and fully, making them available to all.”

Health minister Humza Yousaf added on Twitter: “I have no issue with the media attending.”

Kate Forbes wrote that her belief in “democracy and transparency” led her to call for the hustings to be livestreamed and attended by members of the media.

She added: “None of the candidates have anything to hide. In fact, it would give us a platform to set a positive example for how to have respectful, informed and varied debate.”

The Scottish Tories had urged the SNP to open the hustings up to the media.

Party chairman and MSP Craig Hoy said: “The SNP are desperate for their internal civil war to be conducted in private, rather than airing their dirty linen in public, which explains this cowardly and paranoid media blackout.

“This is nothing short of a disgrace when a new SNP leader – and ultimately First Minister – will be in place in just a few weeks’ time.

“The party have adopted a ‘nothing to see here’ attitude, when the public ultimately want to see the three candidates to replace Nicola Sturgeon properly scrutinised on their plans for Scotland.

“The SNP are famed for their lack of transparency but this really takes the biscuit. They have laughably said by excluding the media that these events will be a safe space for members. What do they think the media are going to do to them?

“This is a misguided decision that the SNP should rethink urgently.”

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