Society condemns barring of media from SNP leadership hustings

Posted on: February 28, 2023 by Claire Meadows

The Society of Editors has condemned a decision by the Scottish National Party (SNP) to bar media access to its upcoming party leadership hustings.

The decision, taken by the SNP’s National Executive Committee, has been justified on the basis that the events have been designated a “safe space for members to ask questions of the three candidates” with the public also being prevented from attending.

As reported by The Sun, while broadcasters and photographers will be able to get an “establishment shot of the leadership contestants inside the hustings halls prior to the debate starting”, journalists will only be able to “gather reaction from outside the hustings hall”.

Responding to the announcement, Dawn Alford, Executive Director of the Society of Editors said: “Given that the upcoming SNP leadership election will determine the next First Minister of Scotland, it is outrageous that the decision has been made to conduct hustings events behind closed doors.

“There is a clear and unequivocal public interest in the media’s ability to report on the hustings in order to provide proper scrutiny of the candidates for the benefit of the public. We call on the executive committee to reverse this decision and allow the media access to these important events.”

Of the nine planned hustings events due to take place, the first is scheduled for Cumbernauld Theatre tomorrow evening (Wednesday 1 March 2023).  

A spokesman 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 [national executive committee] has designed the party hustings as a safe space for members to ask questions of the three candidates.”

Photo credit: BBC