Nicola Sturgeon and SNP criticised for failing to support Team GB at Olympics

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Team GB swimmers Duncan Scott, left, and Tom Dean, right, pose with their medals - Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP
Team GB swimmers Duncan Scott, left, and Tom Dean, right, pose with their medals - Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

Nicola Sturgeon and other senior Scottish nationalists have been criticised for failing to publicly support Team GB's Olympians or offer congratulations to English athletes.

While politicians from across the political divide have sent messages of encouragement and congratulations to Britain’s competitors on social media, the First Minister and senior figures in her party have been accused of a “deafening silence”.

Of Ms Sturgeon’s ten-person Scottish cabinet, none had personally congratulated any Team GB athlete and just one had acknowledged the Tokyo games since it started on Friday, an analysis of Twitter accounts by The Telegraph on Tuesday morning showed.

Of the SNP's 23 front benchers at Westminster, the vast majority have not tweeted about the Olympics and only one, Stewart McDonald, had sent an explicit message of support to Team GB.

'They can’t bring themselves to get behind our amazing athletes'

Ian Murray, the Shadow Scottish Secretary, said: “The whole country is getting behind Team GB and our Olympians who have had such a fantastic start to the Games, but the silence from senior SNP politicians is deafening – even when Scottish GB athletes are making us all proud.

“The ethos of the Olympics – unity and working together as a team – goes against everything the SNP stands for, so it’s perhaps no surprise they can’t bring themselves to get behind our amazing athletes.”

Of the SNP’s senior Westminster politicians, only two had tweeted support for individual non-Scottish members of the Olympics team. Alison Thewliss, the Glasgow MP, retweeted a post congratulating Coventry-born judoka Chelsie Giles, who won a bronze medal, while John Nicolson congratulated gold medal divers Tom Daley and Matty Lee.

Despite not finding time to support Britain’s Olympians, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted about a fresh independence drive the day before the opening ceremony and has also shared book recommendations on her account. Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, sent multiple tweets about his vintage record player.

However, within hours of The Telegraph approaching the SNP to ask about a lack of support for UK Olympians on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon broke her silence.

She tweeted: "Massive congrats to Duncan Scott on his silver medal. And, of course, to Tom Dean on winning gold. Hopefully lots more @TeamGB medals yet to come @Olympics."

While there have been no SNP social media messages of support for Staffordshire-born double Olympic champion swimmer Adam Peaty, a Chinese-born Canadian swimmer has found backing from the nationalist movement.

Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP for the Western Isles, tweeted his congratulations to Maggie MacNeil whose adoptive family has ancestral links to Barra.

He said: “Not just Canada delighted with Maggie MacNeil's win... A corner of Scotland delighted too.”

Ms MacNeil’s win also featured prominently in The National, a pro-SNP Scottish daily newspaper, on Tuesday.

A handful of Scottish nationalist politicians tweeted in support of Duncan Scott, the Glasgow-born swimmer, who became the first Scottish athlete to win a medal for Team GB at this year's Games on Tuesday.

'Being part of the UK means we are part of something bigger'

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “People in Scotland are cheering on the success of all our athletes in Team GB.

“But the SNP has long failed to understand the huge support for Team GB in Scotland. Who can forget Alex Salmond’s divisive bid to only cheer on ‘Scolympians’?

“Being part of the UK means we are part of something bigger and can share in Team GB’s success as we soar up the medals table.

“The Olympics illustrates perfectly what can be achieved when we work together and the benefits of an increasingly interconnected world.”

The SNP has been approached for comment.

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