An STV interviewer renowned for his uncompromising approach when interviewing politicians, has been accused of giving Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson an easy time.
Bernard Ponsonby was interviewing the MSP on the day she gave a speech at Glasgow University. However the style of interview was described as “soft” by one of Ruth Davidson’s political opponents.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry tweeted: “Extraordinarily soft interview with no challenge to @RuthDavidsonMSP on the fact that her #immigration calls run absolutely directly contrary to @theresa_may toxic #immigration policies enthusiastically followed by @ScotTories MPs & …er #Brexit???”
Scores of social media users posted similar criticisms. Ross Cunningham, who is an SNP senior comms officer, remarked: “I was pretty disappointed too. He’s usually very hard hitting and direct.”
Mike Kidd, a former broadcasting & film policy advisor asked if the interview had been conditional on easy questions being asked. He tweeted: “Did you have to agree to give @RuthDavdsonMSP an easy time in order to get the interview @stvbernardp or was this just your own bias? Either way, it’s shameful for someone who can be guaranteed to give the FM a proper grilling. Take a lesson from C4 News in calling the Tories out.”
The mention of Channel 4 news was a reference to C4 reporter Ciaran Jenkins who earlier that day revealed his request to interview Davidson had been truned down.
The Ponsonby interview followed media reports that Davidson had ‘challenged’ her party’s immigration stance and was calling for more immigration to Scotland. However during her interview the Scottish Conservative leader made several claims which appeared to be false or contradicted prior statements she had made.
On immigration, which Davidson claimed she wants to increase, the MSP had previously stated she was not hung up on numbers and that current numbers were “just about right”.
On Davidson’s claim that Scotland was the highest taxed part of the UK, the official figures show that three quarters of Scots will either continue not to pay any income tax or will receive a modest tax break of up to £20 a year.
On NHS funding, Davidson indicated to the STV interviewer she wanted to increase funding through targeted income tax rises.
In February this year Davidson opposed SNP plans to increase income tax marginally to help pay for public services such as the Scottish NHS. During the Scottish budget deliberations Davidson’s MSPs proposed a freeze on income tax which would have cost the Scottish NHS an estimated £500m.
The Ponsonby interview [watch in full here] was the second in recent days that had failed to seriously press the Scottish Conservative leader on her claims. Eight days previously she had appeared on the BBC where an even softer approach was taken by the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg.
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