The Nationalist party have been branded “petty” after the Scottish First Minister’s special advisor Kate Higgins said it was “not on” for Scottish beef to be sold with a Union flag on it in supermarket Marks & Spencer. She said if public agency Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) were aware that Scotch beef was being marked as British “we have a problem”.
Scottish Tory rural spokesman, Oliver Mundell MSP, called for Nicola Sturgeon to answer why her government was wasting its time in the middle of a global pandemic.
Ms Higgins made the complaint as Ms Sturgeon warned the coronavirus crisis “was accelerating” across the country.
Mr Mundell said: “In the middle of a pandemic, it’s jaw-dropping that a key SNP Government adviser is furiously investigating how the Union flag ended up on a packet of meat.
“It’s an embarrassing reveal of the priorities of the SNP government. The big issue facing Scotland today is not the labelling of beef in Marks & Spencer.
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Oliver Mundell MSP, called for Nicola Sturgeon to answer why her government was wasting its time in the middle of a global pandemic
“We are fighting a pandemic and 100,000 jobs are at risk. What will the Scottish public make of one of the First Minister’s key advisers complaining about flags on meat?
“I’m incredibly proud of Scottish produce but this is petty, small and trivial.
“The First Minister should explain if her government endorses this total waste of time.”
But the SNP said it would make “no apologies for promoting our world class produce at a time when it is under threat like never before”.
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SNP’s Fergus Ewing said the Scottish Government would make no apologies
In light of Ms Higgins complaint, QMS said Marks & Spencer had agreed to “review the fresh meat labelling”.
An email to Ms Higgins from QMS, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, said: “The M&S team have committed to review the fresh meat labelling as there were some products they identified that should be packaged as Scotch but were labelled as British.
“He said he thought this may be due to a hangover from the initial COVID panic-buying period when much of the range was labelled as British to ensure maximum volumes were processed.
“I have agreed to review the in-store range in the coming weeks to monitor the Scotch brands and report back to M&S.”
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It comes as Ms Sturgeon played down poll results that found her to be the most trusted among the UK’s political leaders at stressing the need to focus on containing the coronavirus crisis.
The SNP leader held a net positive of 49 percent among those asked – compared to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s net negative of 58 percent.
She said: “Right now, I’d trade away approval ratings to get rid of COVID.
”Nothing else matters to me just now than taking the hard necessary decisions that I need to take to get the country through this challenging period as well as I possibly can and that’s what I’ll continue to stay focused on for every minute of every day for as long as it takes.”
Ms Sturgeon said Scotland has recorded 13 deaths of coronavirus patients in the past 24 hours on Thursday.
This takes the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 2,585.In a statement to a virtual session of the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said 1,351 people had tested positive in the past 24 hours.
This is 17.6 percent of newly-tested individuals, up from 16.4 percent on Wednesday.
She said 44,036 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up 42,685 from the day before.
SNP’s Fergus Ewing, Rural Economy Secretary spokesman said: “Scotch Beef is an iconic product which enjoys protected named status, which should always be safeguarded and promoted – particularly during the pandemic, which has hit our food and drink sector hard.
“The Scottish Government makes no apologies for promoting our world class produce at a time when it is under threat like never before due to the reckless Brexit policies pursued by the Tories – who have disgracefully just voted to water down food standards – and championed by the likes of Oliver Mundell.”