News

Scottish election debate results: Huge blow for Sturgeon as Express readers declare winner


Scottish political leaders from each major party took part in a televised debate on April 13 in Glasgow. Voters will head to the polls on May 6 to elect 129 Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) across 73 constituencies. The political leaders clashed as they set out their plans for recovery in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s current plan described as “reckless” and “undermining” recovery.

Ms Sturgeon went up against Conservative leader Douglas Ross, Labour Party’s Anas Sarwar, Liberal Democrat Willie Renie and Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie on Tuesday.

The leaders were given a chance to cross-examine one another on both campaign issues and past performance.

Each politician outlined their policy and was questioned on a number of key issues ahead of election day.

Key issues prompting controversy and fiery debate included Scottish independence, education, the environment and plans for recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The April 13 STV debate is the second televised debate of the election, with the first taking place in March on BBC Scotland.

READ MORE: EU urges UK to accept massive trade U-turn with NEW deal

One reader wrote: “During Nicola Sturgeon’s time in power things in Scotland have gone downhill. Why does she think that another term of her mismanagement would make things any better? Every time she opens her mouth she ends up on her favourite subject, indyref2.”

Another added: “If this was the Scottish Grand National then nobody won. All fell at the first hurdle. Taking the Scottish people for a ride instead.”

One person commented: “Ms Sturgeon acknowledged her party had taken their eye off the ball in terms of drug deaths however she was determined to turn that around. You’ve had fifteen years to do something and failed.

“When questioned by Mr Rennie on the poverty attainment gap Ms Sturgeon said Covid had upended plans but Level 5 and Level 6 have been closed, just not completely. Not completely? Well you haven’t done it then.

“Ms Sturgeon accepted there was more to do, urging people to elect me to be First Minister to continue to build on the progress we are making. Just what progress have you made? You have failed the NHS, you’ve failed on education and you’ve failed on poverty. I see no positive in the SNP running Scotland, just more misery for the people.”

Another Express.co.uk reader said: “Now the Scottish independence idea is fading Sturgeon has asked her ministers what else is there we can promise to do. Salmond, her one-time idol and friend, is goading her and the Scottish voters must endure this private battle. Clearly, Sturgeon and the SNP record is extremely poor but the whip-waving cloth-eared Sturgeon still spouts on about strong leadership. She has failed in most respects and Scotland should know that.”

Another person wrote: “Rennie and Sarwar were definitely sending out a quiet signal that where Labour or Lib Dems are best placed in the constituencies….their supporters should vote tactically….the ‘Soft ball’ questions they lobbed each other couldn’t have been clearer.”

What happened in last night’s debate?

Ms Sturgeon said she was a strong contender as she offered “experienced leadership” which is needed to steer the country out of the pandemic and through its recovery.

She said “progress” had been made in tackling the attainment gap in schools and NHS waiting times during her tenure.

The Scottish First Minister said: “I will not stand here and deny we haven’t made mistakes.”

However, Mr Ross accused her of failing to meet promises in key areas and said her Government had “dropped the ball” on Scottish drug deaths.

On the latter, Ms Sturgeon admitted: “I think we took our eye off the ball on drug deaths”.

The Scottish Conservative said Scots should opt to back MSPs who are “laser-focused on recovery” rather than campaigning for independence.

He said recovery from Covid will take years and Scots need to work together to make real steps with the recovery process.

Brexit and fishing rights were another key topic for discussion.

Ms Sturgeon pressed Mr Ross on the impact of Brexit on Scotland’s fishing industry, he accepted “we need to do far more”.

The Conservative leader warned her against “picking fights” after she accused him of doing “whatever the UK Government wants”.

Mr Rennie faced pressure from both pro-independence leaders over the Lib Dems’ approach to rejoining the EU without independence.

He responded by saying he would like to “win people back over time”.

Mr Rennie added: “These were dangerous issues, they needed to be handled with care.

“That’s why we want to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes with independence.”

Mr Ross was accused by Mr Harvie of “prejudice” regarding previous comments he made about gypsy travellers.

The Conservative leader said he has apologised for the comments and said he should have answered the question “far better”.

Mr Harvie said he wants to push the Government “beyond their comfort zone”, such as through greater regulation of energy companies.

He said: “We are the only political party to recognise that the world has about three times as much oil and gas as we can ever afford to burn.

“Over the next 10 years, we should be investing in sustainable industries.”

Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar both dropped in mentions of universal basic income schemes.

The latter did not give exact details about how he would enact this but said Scotland could use existing powers to “create a minimum income guarantee”.

Mr Ross discussed policing and Mr Harvie raised the issue of green jobs.

Mr Rennie argued the best Covid recovery plan was to cut mental health waiting times and help schools “bounce back” and to take action on the climate.

The Liberal Democrats candidate cited a specific number of heat pumps he wants to see installed in Scottish homes.



Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button