THE Scottish Tories have stepped up their attack on Nicola Sturgeon’s coronavirus briefings, claiming they have descended into "SNP party political broadcasts".

The party said the First Minister had veered off Covid and used the TV broadcasts to score political points, typically against the UK Government, on at least seven occasions.

It cited briefings in which Ms Sturgeon referred to the UK Government’s approach to airbridges as “shambolic”, criticised Boris Johnson for remarks on the Scotland-England border, and raised questions about immigration policy.

The Tories said the FM had also “blasted the UK Government’s rebranded ‘stay alert’ guidance, only to herself adopt an almost identical message weeks later”.

The attack comes as both Labour and the Tories urge BBC Scotland to stop airing the briefings, which the opposition claim have become increasingly “partisan”. 

READ MORE: BBC urged to drop Sturgeon's 'politicised' Covid briefings

Labour has also asked for an urgent meeting with BBC Scotland Director Donalda MacKinnon, arguing the briefings are now a misuse of public money and in breach of the BBC charter.

Labour said it was wrong the SNP leader was given unprecedented free airtime just 10 months from a Holyrood election.

The briefings cited by the Tories today were mostly ones in which Ms Sturgeon strayed off coronavirus onto other matters at the direct request of the media.

Only one example referred to comments Ms Sturgeon made in her prepared script.

On July 3, she used her scripted message to call the UK Government’s decision-making on airbridges as “shambolic.”

Criticising the UK Government for last-minute changes to which countries were exempt from a travel quarantine, she said: “When so much is at stake as it is right now, we can't allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of other governments, to be quite frank about it, shambolic decision making process.

"So we will take time to properly and rationally consider this before, hopefully very soon, setting out our own decision.”

The Labour First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, was even more scathing the same day, saying it had been "impossible" to a "sensible answer" from the UK Government. 

He told his daily briefing: “Dealing with the UK Government over the last few days has been an utterly shambolic experience.”

The Scottish Government briefings, which were initially held daily but have now been cut to three per week, attract around 275,000 viewers across BBC One and BBC Scotland.

Support for independence has rise to 54 per cent since the briefings began, and Ms Sturgeon’s personal approval ratings have soared.

Mr Johnson's approval ratings have fallen during the pandemic.

READ MORE: Readers have their say on suggestion to cancel coronavirus briefings

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said: “It was quite right for the First Minister to embark on these daily briefings at the outset of this crisis, and for them to continue in the months that followed.

“But increasingly, as the statistics have improved and there’s inevitably less to say about them, the First Minister has turned to political point-scoring.

“This analysis shows how what starts with a daily data update soon descends into an SNP party political broadcast.

“She shouldn’t be doing that, and the BBC shouldn’t be indulging it.

“Either Nicola Sturgeon reverts to this being purely a factual event, or the corporation takes a stand and refuses to give her the airtime.”

BBC Scotland said: “We are broadcasting Scottish Government briefings on the pandemic ad the easing of lockdown because these are matters of significant public interest.

“While cases of infection may be decreasing from their peak during the pandemic, there remains a valid editorial justification for reporting public health information and asking questions on new developments, such as the recent clusters in the Borders and Lanarkshire.

“The briefings in Scotland are covered by BBC one - which has also been the case when the UK and Welsh governments have held briefings.

READ MORE:  No coronavirus deaths in Scotland for eleventh day in a row

“Viewing figures indicate there is a continuing audience need and appetite for information on the crisis, with an average daily combined audience of 275,000 for the briefings on both BBC One Scotland and the BBC Scotland channel.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Daily media briefings continue to be the most used source of information about the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland and are used to disseminate the latest public health guidance as well as essential information about services and support for people and the economy.

“The briefings also provide an opportunity for rigorous scrutiny from the media with 15 to 20 journalists participating every day.”