The BBC Breakfast host suggested Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon may have not received the necessary scrutiny on her performance during the coronavirus pandemic because of her ongoing campaign for independence. Ms Burden challenged SNP Finance Minister Kate Forbes to explain how Ms Sturgeon managed to avoid major backlash despite the high death rate among care home residence since the start of the Covid outbreak. The BBC Breakfast presenter said: “Your conference will look at the Scottish Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I just wonder if, perhaps, Nicola Sturgeon has got off a little light when you look at the stats, when you look at the fact that Scotland has one of the highest deaths per million of any comparable country in Western Europe.
“Thirty times higher than Norway when you look at the proportion of people who died from Covid in care homes.
“Even away from coronavirus, in fact, then the handling of the Alex Salmon inquiry and her refusal to produce legal documents despite repeated votes in the Scottish Government asking for them.
“And yet she seems to be utterly focused on questions of independence without addressing any of that. Is that right?”
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Ms Forbes rejected the claims and insisted the Scottish people would also disagree with the negative assessment from Ms Burden.
The SNP minister said: “I refute a lot of that.
“And I think the people of Scotland would refute that as well if you look at the current polling figures.
“I think we’re going into this conference in a position of strength, if you look at the support for Nicola Sturgeon, trust in her handling of the coronavirus as well as trust in the Scottish Government.
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“But aside from that, we’ve been upfront from the very beginning of the pandemic, saying that mistakes would be made and we would be honest and upfront when they’re made.
“And we would take all measures that we can to ensure that people are safe and we’re managing the multiple harms of coronavirus.”
Ms Forbes also pointed out Nicola Sturgeon has already signalled she will agree to an inquiry on the Scottish Government’s conduct during the pandemic once the crisis has calmed down.
She added: “When we look at the details of coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has said there will be a public inquiry when the time is right into every aspect of the handling of coronavirus, that includes care homes as well as the other issues you have identified.”
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hile Ms Sturgeon has maintained her full attention remains on containing the spread of the virus, she has also renewed her calls for a second independence referendum.
The First Minister has insisted a landslide victory in next year’s Scottish election would provide the SNP with a mandate to demand a new vote.
Speaking to the BBC earlier this week, Ms Sturgeon suggested the fresh referendum could be held “in the earlier part” of the new Scottish Parliament.
The SNP leader added: “I intend to say more about this before the election in our manifesto, but we are still in a global pandemic that I feel a bit more hopeful about seeing the end of than I did even just a couple of months ago.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty ahead. I’m a life-long believer and campaigner and advocate for independence, but right now I’m also the first minister of Scotland.
“My responsibility is to the health and wellbeing of the country and trying to steer it through a pandemic and I’m very focused on that.”