Earlier this evening, STV News asked an engineering expert about the repairs on the Queensferry Crossing, and his firm verdict was that they just weren't a major issue. That was rather inconvenient, given the almighty song and dance the media have been making about the subject, and the STV reporter's follow-up question was nothing short of astonishing -
"You're not a member of the SNP or anything like that?"
That sort of question is just not asked. When you have some economic expert from the "independent and respected" Institute for Fiscal Studies on TV to cast a critical eye over Labour's tax plans, you don't demand to know whether they're privately a Tory sympathiser (even though in most cases they probably are). I'd suggest that STV either have to apologise for this episode, or regard it as a precedent that must be followed for all future interviews of experts, including experts who are making points that are favourable to unionist parties.
Somebody suggested on Twitter that the reporter might have been trying to be helpful - ie. he knew the expert was non-partisan and was just trying to emphasise that fact for anyone who might be sceptical. But by asking the question and broadcasting it, the clear implication was that incredulity is the natural reaction, and that it's somehow amazing that an expert with no political agenda would dare to disagree with unionist parties' claims that minor roadworks on a bridge are the end of civilisation as we know it. It also implies that if the expert had been a member of the SNP, his insight would have been rendered worthless.
The next time an SNP politician is given a hostile grilling on STV, it's hard to see how there can be any complaint if they choose the optimal moment to ask the interviewer: "You don't have any links with the Labour party, do you?"
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We were told to expect a full-scale Scottish poll from Survation at some point this week, but there's no sign of it yet as far as I can see. There was a GB-wide ICM poll a few days ago, though, and the Scottish subsample showed the following: SNP 38%, Conservatives 32%, Labour 25%, Greens 3%, UKIP 2%, Liberal Democrats 1%. Across all polling firms, twenty-three of the last twenty-five subsamples have shown the SNP in the lead.