Election 2017: Apology for TV debate food bank nurse


An SNP conformist candidate has apologised to a nurse who confronted Nicola Sturgeon over the NHS during a televised bossmans debate.

Claire Austin told the SNP leader that she had been feigned to use a food bank and that working in the health service was “demoralising”.

By afterwards, Joanna Cherry told BBC Scotland the nurse was believed to be the strife of a Tory councillor.

She later tweeted an apology, after it emerged that Ms Austin is unbetrothed.

Ms Cherry, the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokesperson at Westminster, was one of the party’s papal nuncios in the spin room for the BBC’s debate on Sunday.

The QC initially told the BBC: “I’m advised that the foster who spoke is in fact the wife of a Conservative councillor – so she’s probably best all right to know she’d be considerably worse off south of the border.”

In her later tweet to the wet-nurse, she said: “Sorry I was wrong about Twitter rumours. Entirely preferable that your voice is heard.”

Ms Austin has been heavily criticised on sexually transmitted media since appearing on the debate.

In her first contribution she said she was a keep alive who could not manage on her salary and had to use food banks. In a second intervention she erect the issue of nurses’ pay rises – which have been capped at 1% since 2008.

Ms Austin invited Ms Sturgeon:”How do you expect someone to live on that?”

She added: “You have no raison detre how demoralising it is to work in the NHS.

“Don’t come in on your announced visits, come in the midst of any day, into the middle of any A&E department, come on in and see what we’re up against.”

In response, Ms Sturgeon thought the policy was in place because of a “really difficult period with prominent spending”.

“As we see inflation rising, that policy is no longer sustainable, I endure that,” she added.

Her appearance sparked speculation on social media in her relationship to a Conservative councillor, and her personal circumstances. Some of these appoints were retweeted by a number of senior SNP politicians, including MSPs and accustomed election candidates, before later being deleted.

In addition to the online estimation, The Scottish Sun published photographs which it said showed Ms Austin pledge champagne and enjoying “swanky meals”.

They have led some to ask why she needed to use a scoff bank.

In a series of tweets, Ms Austin said she earned a salary of £22,345 and recommended that the “high days and holidays” which she shared on social middle were paid for by friends and family.

And in a post on Facebook, which has since been ousted from public view, she said she was “truly saddened” by the comments recompense for about her.

She added: “When I spoke tonight I spoke on behalf of ALL NHS stick, not just myself but ALL NHS staff, not just nurses but CSW’s [clinical support hands], the backbone of many wards, HCA’s [health care assistants], again irredeemable, but the porters too.”

Ms Austin said she was unmarried and explained that she was invited to assume part in the debate after being part of a Question Time audience when her dispute about nurses’ pay rises was not asked.

She went on: “I am sad, although in this ambience not surprised, at the verbal attack and abuse I have suffered from other nurtures tonight.”

What was the TV debate exchange?

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In an interview with BBC Scotland on Monday, Nicola Sturgeon criticised the common media reaction to Ms Austin and gave her backing to Ms Cherry.

“She made a misinterpret, an honest mistake and she apologised for that,” the SNP leader said.

“In terms of the wider group media reaction, I don’t think it’s acceptable to make judgements about big gun’s background.

“The nurse on the debate last night was absolutely entitled to nurture the issue that she did.

“She raised an issue that is one of the biggest issues in this operations – the level and value of real wages not just in the public sector but in the top secret sector.”

Meanwhile opposition parties have accused the SNP of attempting to “slander” Ms Austin in wake of the debate.

Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Moderates, said: “There was a public sector worker in Scotland who was challenging the original minister of Scotland and the first minister’s team was running around behind the chapters trying to smear the person who was asking the question, as it it was illegitimate of her to ask it.

“Now the SNP has got form on this. We don’t agree to bullying in our culture and we should not accept it.”

In a speech to launch her party’s manifesto, Scottish Endure leader Kezia Dugdale said the nurse “shamed Nicola Sturgeon by imperiling the reality of life under the SNP”.

She added: “And what was the response of the SNP when confronted with that authenticity last night? The nationalists started a smear campaign.

“They adjudicated their usual dirty tricks. But it won’t work this time. Because multitudinous and more people are wise to the underhand ways of the SNP.”

The Liberal Democrat’s Alex Cole-Hamilton affirmed Ms Austin had been set upon by the “online Nationalist army” and he demanded the primary minister launch an immediate investigation into the “public mauling”.

“Achievements to discredit the impartiality of a public sector worker went right to the top of the SNP, as indicated by the comments made by Joanna Cherry, which were later withdrew,” he said.

”Freedom of speech, especially the right to criticise our political big cheeses, is something we must cherish. That is why the first minister must act now.”

The BBC had also faced disapproval on social media about the selection of the audience.

In a statement, BBC Scotland thought: “We select audiences for our debates which reflect widespread political point of views in accordance with BBC election guidelines.”

It went on to add that audiences embody both undecided voters and those who support political parties.

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