Nicola Sturgeon has dismissed claims she is trying to “dodge scrutiny” after a row broke out over media access to the SNP local election campaign launch.
The First Minister was in Govanhill today to mark the start of her party’s effort to win councilors across the country’s 32 local authorities.
But opposition parties hit out after it was revealed that only broadcast journalists would be invited to the event in the southside of Glasgow – while newspapers like the Daily Record were not.
The SNP leader wants to put the cost of living crisis at the heart of her party’s campaign but instead faced questions over accountability.
Labor MSP Neil Bibby had earlier claimed: “It’s no wonder Nicola Sturgeon is trying to dodge scrutiny while she bungles her response to the worst cost of living crisis in decades.”
The First Minister told Bauer Radio the Nationalists would formally launch their manifesto next week – and insisted the Govanhill event was merely a “campaign visit”.
On the subject of media invites, she said: “It’s nonsense. I’m standing here answering questions. I’ve just done two lengthy BBC interviews. I will go out there and talk to journalists outside.
“The only point we made today was that this was a campaign visit. Our manifesto launch will be next week.
“People can see this is an enclosed space. There wasn’t space to have large numbers in here.
“I suspect, that if you were to go back over the last couple of years, I have probably answered more questions – rightly, it’s my job – from journalists than any other politician in the entirety of the UK.”
The First Minister said she wanted Scots to vote SNP on May 5 to register their unhappiness at the cost of living crisis.
She added: “The Scottish Government, working with local councils, are doing everything we can, within the powers and resources we have, to help.
“In Scotland, unlike other parts of the UK, they don’t pay prescription charges, they don’t pay for eye tests.
“Things like council tax, water bills and rail fares, are on average cheaper in Scotland than the rest of the UK.”
Asked about cleansing issues faced by Glasgow City Council, the SNP leader said: “I think there are real issues for councils across the country.
“We are doing what we can to protect their budgets.
“In this financial year, the Scottish Government budget reduced by about five per cent in real terms – the decisions we have taken have resulted in around a six per cent increase in the overall local government funding settlement.
“But these are difficult times.
“And I know cleansing issues in Glasgow are difficult – although I also know you’ll see people here over the course of the day cleaning up rubbish in the streets, because the cleansing workers here do a good job.”
Responding to the SNP campaign launch, Jackie Baillie said: “Nicola Sturgeon can’t pretend she isn’t responsible for part of this cost of living crisis.
“She talks about sending a message, but under her government fewer Scots can afford their messages than ever before.
“The SNP have been in government for 15 years – they are putting up water bills and raising train fares.
“They’ve failed to back a windfall tax on oil and gas companies making £44,000 in profit from rising energy bills a minute.”
The Scottish Labor deputy leader added: ““Nicola Sturgeon wants voters to send a message to the people responsible for this crisis.
“They should – by abandoning the SNP and Tories and voting Labor on May 5.”
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