Scottish National Party bars media from hustings to pick next leader – POLITICO

LONDON — Media representatives will not be able to attend any of the party hustings taking place during the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party has confirmed.

The SNP — which has held power in Scotland’s devolved parliament since 2007 — is currently electing a new leader following Sturgeon’s resignation as first minister. Whoever becomes the SNP’s new boss will also replace Sturgeon as Scotland’s first minister.

The party is planning nine hustings events to allow its members to grill leadership candidates Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan. But these will not be open to the media.

“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,” an SNP National Executive Committee spokesperson said.

The SNP added that journalists “are free” to gather reaction from outside the hustings, and that photographers “will be invited” to take an establishing shot inside the hustings prior to the start of the debate. Three televised debates are also due to take place.

The election has led to difficult headlines for the party, with candidates and their supporters in the traditionally-disciplined SNP openly taking pot-shots at each other and Sturgeon’s record.

“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,” Craig Hoy, chairman the opposition Scottish Tories said of the media approach.

He added: “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?”

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