BBC Scotland’s Political Editor has claimed the SNP “orchestrated” the walkout that saw every SNP MP leave the House of Commons on Wednesday in protest after their group leader Ian Blackford was expelled.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s flagship morning news programme Good Morning Scotland, Brian Taylor said: “Was this orchestrated by the SNP? Of course it was, for goodness sake of course it was.”
Taylor added: “Are they exploiting this for all they can? Yes they are.”
Taylor’s suggestion, that the walkout was pre-planned, was echoed by his BBC colleague Norman Smith who described the walkout as a “stunt”.
The claims from both BBC reporters follow a similar accusation made yesterday by the BBC’s Political Editor who accused the SNP of having planned the walkout in advance. Laura Kuenssberg made the claim in a message posted on social media.
The BBC correspondent said: “Pretty clear SNP walkout was part of planned campaign effort – fair enough but not exactly an impromptu event”
Keunssberg’s claim was based on an email circulated by the SNP that same day. Following the BBC reporter’s tweet several people, including SNP MSP Christina McKelvie, pointed out that the email had been sent out hours after the walkout had taken place.
Claims that the SNP planned the walkout as a pre-planned stunt have been made by a string of Unionist politicians.
Shortly after the walkout Ruth Davidson posted a tweet showing a document she implied was proof that the walkout had been pre-planned.
However the document cited by Davidson as proof that the walkout had been pre-planned turned out to relate to the previous day’s points of order and not the session of Prime Minister’s Questions during which the walkout had taken place. The walkout was captured on camera by SNP MP Hannah Bardell.
The Scottish Greens backed the move by the SNP MPs. Co-convenor Patrick Harvie tweeted: “However theatrical the SNP walk-out from #PMQs was, it’s the UK Government’s actions yesterday in tearing up the principle of devolved consent which show the real disrespect for parliamentary democracy.”
Claims by BBC reporters that the walkout was planned and an orchestrated stunt have been met with anger on social media, with many posters pointing out that the expulsion of Ian Blackford, which prompted the walkout, could have been avoided had Speaker John Bercow adhered to Commons’ rules.
According to SNP MP Douglas Chapman, the Speaker was advised by Clerks that Blackford’s request should have been granted: “Experienced Tory MP who was in earshot tells me that The Speaker was advised that the vote @IanBlackfordMP asked for was allowable within Parliamentary procedures.”
An image of the rule governing Blackford’s request for a private sitting appears to back up claims that Bercow blundered by refusing the SNP MP’s request for the House to sit in private immediately.
Following the episode the Speaker’s Office confirmed to Press & Journal journalist Jennifer McKiernan that Ian Blackford’s request for an immediate private session could have been put to the House immediately, but John Bercow ruled that it would be delayed.
Confirmation by the Speaker’s own office that Ian Blackford’s request could indeed have been granted immediately, thus avoiding any expulsion, would appear to undermine claims from Unionists and BBC reporters that the walkout was a pre-planned stunt by the SNP.
BBC Scotland reporters, including Brian Taylor, have previously claimed that there is no interest in Scotland in the Power Grab. The station has denied complaints that it has downplayed the issue and presented it from a Westminster perspective. However TV and Radio coverage casts doubt on BBC Scotland claims.
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