No media to be allowed at SNP leadership hustings, party confirms

The SNP said it wants to ensure party members have a 'safe space' to ask candidates questions.

SNP leadership hustings between Forbes, Yousaf and Regan to be held in private without media Scottish Government

Media will not be allowed to attend the SNP leadership hustings, the party has announced.

Members of the SNP are set to quiz leadership candidates Kate Forbes, Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan next month.

On Tuesday, it was confirmed the events will be held in private.

STV News understands journalists will be able to get establishing shots of candidates prior to the event but will not be able to record footage once questions begin.

Media will be able to gather reaction from outside the hustings.

The SNP said it wants to ensure members have a “safe space” to ask candidates questions.

An SNP National Executive Committee (NEC) spokesperson said: “SNP members are the lifeblood of our party and our movement.

“It is the members who will be voting for the next leader of the party, so the SNP NEC has designed the party hustings as a safe space for members to ask questions of the three candidates.”

SNP members will take part in a two-week ballot to choose the party’s new leader from March 13.

The winner, who will take over from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, will 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. I am not sure how than can be misconstrued as not backing media attendance/live streaming.”

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 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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