TO witness senior figures in Scottish Labour rejoice at their role in reducing the timeliness, relevance and clarity of the BBC’s provision of public health information about the Covid pandemic here, while others in Scottish Labour try to cover their tracks, must be a new low for the branch office.

A low perhaps only matched by BBC Scotland’s excuses for abandoning their regular coverage of the Scottish Government’s daily Covid briefing at a time when the virus is spreading rapidly again and the need for widespread understanding of the rapid, nuanced, localised public health responses required has never been greater.

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On one hand (as its leaked memo to politicians suggests) it’s because the BBC has decided to apply “a consistent approach to coverage of the various government briefings across the UK” – suggesting that there is some kind of competition going on between governments of the four nations in their coverage of a public health emergency, and holding Scots hostage to the “nothing to see here” approach of Boris Johnson, who would like to pretend the emergency is over. Or, according to BBC Scotland’s Head of Public Policy, it’s because “the last two weeks aside, things were slowly going back to normal”.

Has the BBC really not noticed that “things” have changed suddenly and dramatically for the worse in terms of the spread of the virus? Do BBC chiefs really believe stating that briefings may still be covered based on their “editorial merit” and “news value” provides any assurance to a nervous public anxious for information and an honest appraisal of the increasing risks? Is the BBC going to set up its own equivalent of SAGE to decide those public health messages it considers are important enough for us to hear clearly and directly from the only government elected by the people of Scotland and our public health advisers?

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They must surely realise that by removing the certainty around the daily coverage of the briefings – the time, the channel, the format – they are reducing access to the information we need to stay safe, particularly among the very old and most vulnerable who may not be so confident with the technology. Or has it been told to ignore all of this and more?

BBC bosses must be expecting the level of complaint this decision has triggered from its captive audience (and doubtless intend simply to ride out the storm). Let’s not disappoint them! If you have complained, directly, about the decision to drop regular coverage of the briefing, complain again about the inadequacy of their response – for it certainly will be inadequate – if and when you receive one.

K Dick
via email

I FIND it sad that Unionist politicians have, it seems, gleefully conspired with the BBC – allegedly a public service broadcaster – to stop televising the daily lunchtime coronavirus briefings by our First Minister.

These briefings have proved invaluable in providing clear, practical and apolitical information to help save lives during a global pandemic that is on the rise again. This deadly virus does not stalk you depending on how you vote.

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The conspirators clearly object to the First Minister treating us as grown-ups, preferring to treat us like mushrooms.

I have no doubt that the hundreds of thousands of viewers that follow the briefings for the sake of their health will be delighted that the BBC now has the opportunity to show further Pointless repeats and save valuable funds.

George Wylie
via email

BBC Scotland’s decision to remove the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefings from its TV schedule is discriminatory. As a disabled person with multiple sclerosis, I rely on this easily accessible source of information to protect my health and wellbeing.

How can BBC Scotland justify excluding many people like myself from vital public health information during a pandemic?

Wendy Sharp
Cupar, Fife

IN terms of the BBC’s cave-in and absolute betrayal of their Scottish viewers regarding the Scottish Government’s Covid briefings, surely it’s not beyond the remit of STV to step in and provide this service?

Steve Cunningham

I NOTE the calls of many people for STV to broadcast the FM’s public health briefings. All well and good, but those of us who stay in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway are subjected to Border TV, a company based in Carlisle. It’s highly unlikely that they would broadcast the briefings, as they would not be relevant to most of their viewers.

Ranald Dods

THE basic principles of good public health messaging are reach, accessibility and repetition. With their decision to cease covering the daily briefings, BBC Scotland have wilfully degraded public health information for Scotland. With a bit of luck and continued effort from all of us, our country will emerge from this pandemic – but it will be despite, not because of, the BBC.

Dr Donald Sharp
Cupar, Fife

LORD George Foulkes claims he has done the Scottish nation a great service by persuading the BBC to stop broadcasting the First Minister’s coronavirus briefings.

In view of the tremendous gratitude we now owe Lord Foulkes, I suggest that The National without delay gives readers a full account of his life and career.

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We might all learn from this about the extent of the influence that his Lordship wields and how it has been appropriate to honour him for his contribution to civil society and the high standards of integrity and behaviour he has stood up for and maintained at all times.

In troubled times like these we need a hero, and is there any better candidate for this role than George Foulkes?

Melvyn Gibson
via email