SNP blunder as £700k spent on ‘political propaganda’ thank-you letters” – Daily Express headline, January 25, 2021


This was not “propaganda” but a direct mailing of important Covid-19 information with a covering letter from the First Minister. Nicola Sturgeon's fame and clout should have ensured people paid more attention to the information, instead of discarding it as junk mail.

The National:


During January 2021, the Scottish Government sent a letter signed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to every household in Scotland. This was actually a covering letter accompanying a series of important information leaflets giving the guidance to households on the latest Covid-19 precautions, vaccination plans and on access to NHS facilities.

However, the Scottish edition of the Daily Express carried a story purporting that the letter and leaflet distribution was a covert SNP plot to gain political advantage ahead of the May Holyrood elections. The Express phoned a number of opposition politicians and pro-Union activists for quotes.

Jackie Baillie MSP - currently the interim leader of Scottish Labour – told the Express reporter that the letter should have been signed by scientists rather than the FM.

READ MORE: Joanna Cherry replaced by Stuart McDonald and Anne McLaughlin in SNP reshuffle

Baillie is quoted: “Polling shows that people have considerably more trust in the NHS as a source of information on Covid-19 than they do in the Scottish and UK Governments.”

Baillie (below) went on to accuse the FM of being “opportunistic and irresponsible” for sending the letter only four months before the Holyrood election.

The National: MSP Jackie Baillie launches a new guidebook for carers entitled Thinking (44294991)

Also quoted by the Express was Duncan Simpson, identified as the research director at the TaxPayers' Alliance.

The Alliance is essentially a Conservative Party front organisation and was caught coordinating with Downing Street during the Brexit referendum. It campaigns for low taxation but is intensely secretive about its own financial doners.

One known doner to the Alliance is Tory peer Lord Anthony Bamford, who the Sunday Times Rich List calculates is worth £4.7 billion.

Simpson told the Express: “Using taxpayers' cash for what looks like propaganda is not on … Nicola Sturgeon should keep her ego in check and stop taking Scottish taxpayers for a ride."


According to the latest Ofcom data, at least 11 per cent of UK households still cannot access the internet (even after the rise in demand due to Covid). As a result, it is still necessary to mail vital health information to households.

This was the reason behind the recent Scottish Government health mailing, with the First Minister’s covering letter. Even if Sturgeon's message had not been included, the postage costs would still have been incurred.

As noted, the mailing included official health information. According to the Scottish Government: “The door drop to every household in Scotland sets out how the vaccine programme will progress and emphasises that health services are still in place to support people when needed for non-Covid reasons as part of the Right Care Right Place campaign.”

Therefore, the charge of “propaganda” is exaggerated at best.

READ MORE: WATCH: Nicola Sturgeon exposes Douglas Ross's hypocrisy over indyref2 debate

However, the First Minister’s covering letter is justifiable on two counts. First, her prominence helps ensure any communication from is read. In normal times, a lot of “junk mail” is discarded immediately. In matters of health especially, maximising the extent to which information is absorbed is vital.

Second, the First Minister’s message was designed to reinforce the need for people to continue adhering to lockdown rules. Throughout the pandemic, Sturgeon has acquired a reputation for public trust which ensures she is one person the community knows and responds to.

This is obvious from the latest polling data (from Opinium) which shows Nicola Sturgeon has a +24% net approval rating in Scotland (and +10% across the UK). In contrast, Boris Johnson scores -35% in Scotland and -8% across the UK.


Zero. Another non-story from the Express.

The National: National Fact Check False