15/03/2012 Question Time


15/03/2012

David Dimbleby chairs the debate from St Andrews, with a panel including Charles Kennedy MP, Ruth Davidson MSP, Frank Field MP, Humza Yousaf MSP and Janet Street-Porter.


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Hope we are in St Andrews tonight. Welcome to Question Time. On our

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panel tonight, the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth

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Davidson. The Labour MP Frank Field, asked in Tony Blair's days to think

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the unthinkable on welfare. Also from the Scottish parliament, a

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rising star of the SNP, Humza Yousaf. The leader of the Scottish

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Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, standing in at short notice for

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Charles Kennedy, who missed his flight this evening. And the

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journalist and broadcaster Janet Our first question is from Stephen,

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please. What should good Osborne announce in the Budget that was

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significantly decreased long-term unemployment? -- George Osborne.

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Ruth, what do you think? A will not speculate on what will be in the

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Budget. Come on! But I think we can recognise the amount of work the

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coalition is doing to get the economy back on track and create

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jobs. We have seen the youth contracts to try and incentivise

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business is taking on new people. I would like to see that accelerated.

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We have seen people who are already in employment, particularly low-

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paid employment, work to increase their income. For example, lifting

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100,000 Scots out of the tax bracket, raising the tax bracket to

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�10,000. Will that be done next week? I would like to see it

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accelerated ahead of the timetable for the whole of Parliament. But I

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am not about to tell any secrets. Do you know any secrets? I have

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regular conversations with Number 10. Do you know what is in the

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Budget, but you are not prepared to tell us? I am not saying that. But

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I have put my tuppence worth in for Scotland. Humza Yousaf, what would

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you like? We have asked for three things. The Gentleman is right to

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highlight unemployment as the biggest crisis so the Government is

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facing. Capital expenditure is one way to grow employment and get out

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of the rut we are in. For every �100 million of capital expenditure,

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we are supporting 1400 jobs. The Scottish government has 36 projects

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ready for construction. Depending on Westminster? Absolutely, so we

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want to see the finance coming through so that we can support

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those jobs. On top of that, if you run a small or medium-sized

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business, you are not getting the lending from these publicly-owned

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banks. That is a disgrace. We have taxpayer owned banks who are not

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lending to help businesses grow jobs. George Osborne needs to get a

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grip. Don't the banks have to make up their own minds about who they

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lend to, or should the Government insist that they lend willy-nilly?

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It is just wrong that we have banks that are owned by taxpayers and the

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public that are busy building up their balance used instead of

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helping small and medium-sized businesses increase and take on

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people and get us out of the unemployment rut. George Osborne

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should absolutely not abolish the 50 pence tax. That is that wrong

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priority for the situation we are in. A frank Field, do go along with

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the Scottish National Party assessment? Not totally. There are

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two things which George Osborne should do in the Budget. The most

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important move he could make to increase employment would be to

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give a National Insurance holiday for employers taking on new people.

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While of course, some would fiddle at the margin and so on, I can't

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think of any other simple move that would most increase employment

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prospects for people in our countries that face a grim future.

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So it if you take on a new worker, you don't pay national insurance

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for a year? Not the way she wants? We are already doing that for the

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first 10 employees of new businesses for the first two years.

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National Insurance is being looked at. But most jobs will not come

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from new businesses. The second thing he should do - we have a real

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problem, particularly in areas like mine, where people have done 13

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years in school and find it difficult to present themselves

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properly for a job. Labour's job programme was, I think it took us a

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long time to get there, but it was the best thing we did. We gave

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people who would not otherwise be looked at by employers the chance -

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we said simple things, like just turning up on time, being clean and

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tidy. Has that been scrapped by the coalition government, is that what

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you are saying? That Direct scheme has been scrapped to pay for the

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Great Work programme. But if we focus on the question rather than

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parading our prejudices, we go for the national insurance cut and

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boost business confidence. And we make sure those who find it hardest

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to fit into jobs when they are there, that we boost their

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confidence. Janet Street-Porter, what would you do if you were

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Chancellor? I would look at youth unemployment and the fact that

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there are over 1 million young people unemployed. I would also

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consider the fact that across Europe, youth unemployment is

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equally high. Because we are in the EU, young people from other EU

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countries are coming here, and have every right to take jobs, whether

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we like it or not. I agree with Frank. We have to ensure that when

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our young people leave secondary education, they are better prepared

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to work and more employable and literate. That means absolutely

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pouring a huge amount of resources into further education. We need

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more teachers and better targeted classes. We need to ease people

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into employment. If we don't target these million kids who are

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unemployed, we will have civil unrest. How do they get jobs if

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there is no work? They are not getting jobs because better

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qualified young people are coming in. But Humza Yousaf says they are

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not getting jobs because banks are not lending money. Frank Field it

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says it because nationally showers is too expensive. We are talking

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about minimum-wage jobs, cleaning jobs, service industry jobs, jobs

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where this country has a lot of work available. You want young

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people to take those? I want their minds are to be changed so that

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they are going into it. At the moment, they are mostly

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unemployable. I agree with Janet that we should be getting people

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into these jobs. But the problem is that young people today think they

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deserve more and expect more, and they are unwilling to get into the

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jobs that are out there. That needs to be addressed. When you talk to

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young people who come into this country looking for work from

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Estonia or Mafia or Spain, they are willing to do anything -- when they

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come from that via or Spain. That is because the unemployment is so

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phenomenal back home. Willie Rennie, what do you think should be

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announced in the Budget that would help solve the long-term

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unemployment? It is clear that there are no simple answers to this.

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A lot of it is treading the fine line between spending enough to

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stimulate the economy, but not spending too much to unsettle the

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market. When you unsettle the markets, the cost of borrowing goes

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up. So we end up having to spend less. By one of the things we are

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doing it is implementing the UK youth contract from April, which is

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worth �1 billion. That will bring more apprenticeships and

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incentivise businesses to employ more people. It will also bring

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wage subsidies. Those are the things we should be doing. But it

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is not enough, because it is tough. Do you think George Osborne is

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doing the right things, or do you agree with Vince Cable that the

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Government has not set out a proper strategy? There are always vigorous

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debates within government. But who is right? For they have come to an

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agreement between the two of them. But Vince Cable says one thing and

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George Osborne says another. They share a view that the Government is

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on the right track. If I could come back in, the original question was

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about long-term unemployment. We have to recognise where we have

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come from. Under the last Labour government, 5 million people across

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the UK never had a job for those 13 years. These are people who are

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long way from the labour market. Frank talk about the work programme.

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That is designed to help those furthest from the jobs market back

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in. It gives specific support to the agencies helping them, and it

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makes sure it is not putting people into a six-week posting a minimum

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wage job. The payments to the agencies that are helping those

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long-term unemployed, people who may have drug addiction problems or

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have come out of prison, are staggered payments. You get part of

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the payment when somebody access as a job. You get further when they

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are there for six months and then more when they are there for two

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years. The man up there? Is it a case of managing young people's

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expectations? 30 or 40 years ago, you started at the bottom and work

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your way up to the top. But now, there is an image of going straight

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to the top. Is that not unrealistic? Is there any evidence

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that people are refusing to take jobs for that reason? Two people

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have just said so. I count myself as a young person. Well, you have a

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nice job. No disrespect to the gentleman, but every person says,

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back in my day, we did this and that. From the young people I talk

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to, I have gone into a lot of high schools, like a number of the

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members here, and they have a drive that I have not seen before and a

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willingness to get their sleeves rolled up. But in terms of David

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Cameron and George Osborne and the Budget next week, we have seen that

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Obama and David Cameron have been the best of pals, with their arms

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around each other, by nature a hot dogs. Get to the point. The point

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is that it would be good for David Cameron to take a leaf out of

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Obama's book that the way to start the economy is through a stimulus

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package, not too deep, swingeing, fast cuts that hit the most

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disadvantaged. Frank? Clearly, lots of people don't have a job because

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they can't find one. But there are others which Janet spoke of about

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their attitude. On Friday, I read a report from Janet's paper about

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three young people who had never had jobs. I was talking about

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getting them a job. One of them said, we are not prepared to get

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out of bed unless we get �300 a week. I said, but you can't read or

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write. Who will give you a job for that kind of money? And they said,

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get serious. We will not entertain a job unless it pays �300 a week.

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So I said, you should take a job. To which I heard the worst thing I

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have ever heard in my political life. This young guy leaned across

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the table, screwed up his face and said, so you would make us take

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immigrant jobs, would you? And I said, you bet I would. This whole

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attitude, that somehow we have this extraordinary number of young

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people coming into the country and wanting to work, and we have still

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to learn the lesson from that. Janet spoke about the obvious fact

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that while many people are desperately searching for work, at

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the same time there are others who consider that some jobs are beneath

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them. I will go on to another question from Jon Stewart. Would

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Scotland be financially better off as an independent nation? This is

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not a question about the Scottish economy, but it is a reference to

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what seems to be a key issue, judging by the polls, which is that

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if you tell people in Scotland that they will be �500 better off, 65%

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of them will say they will vote for independence. If you say they will

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be �500 worse off, 65% of them vote against. It seems to be a matter of

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whether independence makes you richer or poorer. And nothing else.

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Independence is a lot more about the economy. In the economic

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climate we are in, it is incredibly important. The question was about

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whether Scotland would be better off as an independent country. I

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firmly believe it would be. The Government's own expenditure

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Revenue statistics showed that we give the Treasury 9.6%, while we

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are 8.4% of the population. But do you agree it is the crunch point of

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the Ottoman full independence, that whenever we get at the referendum

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on Scottish independence will be arguing about how much more will be

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in the pocket? It is undoubtedly an important part of why I believe in

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independence. If it is not to do with flag-waving, haggis eating,

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Braveheart nationalism. These are things that I quite like doing!

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Incidentally, sometimes at the same time. But the independence that we

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crave is to have those economic powers. The independence that we

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crave is to create jobs and wealth. That at its most simple and most

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basic, the reason I believe in independence is because the

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decisions made about Scotland and in Scotland should be made by those

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that care most about the interests of Scotland. That is the people of

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Scotland. Economics is important but it is about so much more than

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that. The I think if independence is just based on a bank balance,

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that is the wrong reason for independence. I thought you wanted

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independence because your life would come to a natural end unless

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you had it. Everybody's life comes to a natural end. I thought it was

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because you were culturally so strong, so proud that you had to be

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independent, otherwise life was not worth living. I think you will have

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independence but it will cost a lot of money. Will you have a border,

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your own money, your own stamps? How are we going to split the

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defence budget? I was reading Stephanie Flanders' on the BBC, and

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I did not think that you did. The way I read it was that Scotland

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actually costs England money. You have quoted your own figures.

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UK Government's figures, actually. I have just read Stephanie Flanders,

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who begs to differ. But I think, should Government be based on

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money? If you are independent, is did going to cost a fortune?

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can't answer that, it is a rhetorical question. Of the problem

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with Humza Yousaf is that he does not know whether we will be better

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off. That is an assertion that Scotland would be better off but we

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do not have the evidence to prove it. The problem is that we would

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have much more risk. The rough and this move would be difficult.

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do you make of this Social attitudes survey that says it is

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the clinching point? Purely money. Much of it is money. We can hear

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from the audience whether they think money is at the heart of it.

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There are 40% who would stay in the Union no matter what and about 35%

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who would go Independent no matter what but there is a bulk of people

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in the middle who would be swayed by whether Scotland will be better

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off. It is not just about themselves but about the nation as

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well. Is the issue is around money, surely now is not the time to have

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this debate, in a recession? Precisely the best time is now to

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have this debate. If anything, the economic leaders would be better to

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have now, so regardless of what you wanted to do with them, it would be

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to our advantage to have them so we could take ourselves out of the

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mess that we are in. With the suggestion that Britain might lose

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its Triple A credit rating, how would an independent Scotland have

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a good credit rating, with the history of RBS being its biggest

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bank? Briefly, if you would. There are two companies that have come

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out and expressed doubt in the UK's credit rating, but it is worth

:18:10.:18:14.

knowing that two-thirds of the countries with a Triple A credit

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rating, two-thirds of them have a population of under 10 million. Not

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only that, but with a one trillion pound oil asset base, we would be

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able to preserve that AAA status. You are concerned about the effect

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on England. I certainly am, but I am incredibly depressed by the

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question and the support that it is getting. I thought this was a great

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debate about the nature and destiny of nations and of mankind. The idea

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that it is all going to be determined on whether you have a

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few quid better off in your pocket or not, is deeply depressing. There

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are clearly lessons that England needs to learn from this whole

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experiment that you have had and made a success of, devolution. But

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your devolution success has had a consequence on us in England, in

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that it has affected our bearing and our status, and how we think we

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should actually conduct ourselves in the world. I was very much

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hoping that the debate that you will have at some stage on whether

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you wish to go independent or not, would be a debate which looked at

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your experiences from devolution, looked at how it had affected up to

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that point and maybe beyond, where your hope for the friendly

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neighbours. What were the consequences on them? And whether

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in fact both countries will be stronger by dividing, or weaker.

:19:47.:19:54.

What do you think? I think we would be weaker. I fear the debate may go

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in such a way that the reaction in England is such that we would

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welcome that the measure of devolution which you have had.

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Certainly, I raised this question in the House. It is a legitimate

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issue to raise the Scottish question, but it is not yet so much

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a legitimate question to raise the English question. The English

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question being, if Scotland is self-governing, his England self-

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governing if Scottish MPs vote in Westminster? It is the rate --

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naive to think that the first tranche of devolution was the end

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of the journey, both for you, necessarily, and certainly a

:20:32.:20:36.

journey which we could not begin in England. I would welcome a debate

:20:36.:20:42.

which was not just about the money, but that somehow drew upon our own

:20:42.:20:47.

cultures and histories and tried to think about our place in the world,

:20:47.:20:57.
:20:57.:20:58.

and made a decision on that. The reason why the debate has been

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shifted on to the economics on whether it would be better if you

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had �500 is because the scaremongering Unionist parties and

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the media are shifting onto that terrain. The reason why Scotland's

:21:11.:21:13.

young people support independence is because we could be a

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progressive beacon in Europe and the world with a fully funded

:21:16.:21:20.

health service, fully funded education and the progressive

:21:20.:21:23.

foreign policy which does not indulge in imperialist war and

:21:23.:21:28.

illegal wars abroad. Is there evidence that an overwhelming

:21:28.:21:33.

majority of people under 21 in Scotland support this? Young people

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in Scotland are more prone to support independence. Which is why

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you want to give the vote to 16 year-olds. Absolutely. I think

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young people under the age of 18 have the right to vote.

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Do you think that 16 year-olds and 17 year olds are responsible enough

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to vote in a referendum? I think what is interesting is that what is

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being proposed is not that all 16 and 17 year olds should vote in the

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referendum, it is that some 16 and three quarter year-olds and some 17

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year-olds whose parents have registered them on the electoral

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roll have a vote in the referendum. I think there is a debate about

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where we put the voting age in this country, but you do not shift the

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goalposts for one referendum. Certainly not if you are saying the

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mandate you have for holding the referendum is from the

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parliamentary result in May last year. I would suggest the mandate

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comes from the franchise from that election, which was people who live

:22:28.:22:35.

in Scotland, including you citizens, over the age of 18. This is a great

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question which is going to affect Scotland, England and Wales. To

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think we have jumped from whether people will be better off to seeing

:22:42.:22:46.

whether we should fix the voting age to get a result, the whole

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thing, I am just shocked by you as an audience, those of you who have

:22:50.:22:53.

been speaking up like this. I thought I would be on the defensive

:22:53.:22:57.

as an English person and that you would actually try to charge -- to

:22:57.:23:01.

charm me about the values of independence. You are just

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scrabbling around on the floor. Does anybody want to charm Frank

:23:05.:23:11.

Field with the idea of independence? He keeps harping on

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about England, England, England. Surely it is Scotsman separating

:23:15.:23:21.

from the United Kingdom, not from England. -- Scotland.

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If you allow 17 year olds to join the armed forces they should have

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the right to vote for the country they are going to be fighting for.

:23:31.:23:35.

I would agree with that. If you are old enough to pay tax and be

:23:35.:23:39.

married, you are old enough to vote. What about the point that Frank

:23:39.:23:45.

Field is making, that he expected to be charmed? For me, it is about

:23:45.:23:50.

hundreds of years of history. I think the point was made at the

:23:50.:23:53.

back that it is not about Scotland separating from England but

:23:53.:23:57.

Scotland separating from the United Kingdom.

:23:57.:24:05.

Sorry to disappoint Frank, but some people have strong opinions for and

:24:05.:24:08.

against independence. For a lot of people, it is culturally

:24:08.:24:12.

comfortable in the UK and I think for them the main thing is family,

:24:12.:24:17.

friends and their career and lifestyles. I think the extra �500

:24:17.:24:23.

does not surprise me in any way that it would be a deciding issue.

:24:23.:24:29.

Ruth, you did not speak at great length about this. But I can.

:24:29.:24:34.

sure you could speak for the rest of the programme! But on this issue

:24:34.:24:40.

of whether England will need some sort of response, or ought to have

:24:40.:24:43.

a response to Scottish devolution in terms of its own destiny, what

:24:43.:24:47.

do you say about that, or do you not care because it is an English

:24:47.:24:51.

issue? I have to say, I care more about the constitutional debate

:24:51.:24:55.

that is happening in Scotland. I think there is a lot more we want

:24:55.:24:59.

to talk about in Scotland about the substance of that debate. At the

:24:59.:25:03.

moment, debate has been restricted to the referendum, the question of

:25:03.:25:06.

the franchise and who should oversee it. We need to talk about

:25:06.:25:10.

what the guts of a separate state would be like, as opposed to where

:25:10.:25:15.

we are in the United Kingdom. wait for the SNP to put up ideas

:25:15.:25:20.

and knock them down? -- will you wait? Hopefully the two governments

:25:20.:25:25.

can work together towards a fair and legal referendum. And then we

:25:25.:25:29.

can move on to the substantive issues. But to bring up what Frank

:25:29.:25:33.

has been talking about, there is a grandly titled Commission for the

:25:33.:25:36.

consequences of devolution which has been set up by the UK

:25:36.:25:40.

Government, which is more colloquially known as the West

:25:40.:25:45.

Lothian question Commission, to look at that point about where

:25:45.:25:48.

England has English only legislation, because it is

:25:48.:25:51.

legislation that is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern

:25:51.:25:54.

Ireland, but people from Wales and Northern Ireland and Scotland can

:25:54.:25:59.

vote on it in the House of Commons. The West Lothian question is not a

:25:59.:26:02.

new anomaly. It has been around for a very long time and it is being

:26:02.:26:08.

looked at, to find out if there is a way to solve it. I wanted to come

:26:08.:26:13.

back on the voting age. I agree with the gentleman at the back is

:26:13.:26:17.

said that 16 and 17 year-olds not only joined the Army, can consent

:26:17.:26:20.

to marriage and having children, but somebody said are they

:26:20.:26:26.

responsible enough to vote? I knock on a lot of doors. I will show you

:26:26.:26:29.

some 30 year olds and 14-year-olds who are not responsible and should

:26:29.:26:35.

not be voting. -- 40. What gets to me the most about this issue, we

:26:35.:26:38.

have had this principle for 15 years, plus, and I have not seen

:26:38.:26:43.

any evidence to show that 16 and 17 year-olds are more likely to vote

:26:43.:26:48.

for independence. I think they will ask questions about it, too.

:26:48.:26:56.

you sure? Are you sure you are not going for it because you think...

:26:56.:27:01.

What I do not like to see is that parties that voted for it in the AV

:27:01.:27:06.

referendum who now dodge and dive and duck. And now they do not want

:27:06.:27:11.

votes for 16 and 17 year olds. That is hypocrisy, the Groucho Marx

:27:11.:27:14.

school of politics - these are my principles, and if you don't like

:27:14.:27:21.

them, I have others. Presumably you would go for votes for 16 year-olds.

:27:21.:27:25.

Can I address Frank's point? I think it is important to raise the

:27:25.:27:29.

level of this debate. To me, Britain is one of the most

:27:29.:27:32.

centralised states in the world and we need to decentralise it. That is

:27:32.:27:37.

why we favour home rule. Not independence, but home rule, where

:27:37.:27:40.

Scotland would be able to raise, through its Parliament, the money

:27:40.:27:44.

that it spends, so you could make decisions in Scotland but still

:27:44.:27:49.

remain a partner within the UK. The characteristics of Scots is about

:27:50.:27:53.

outward-looking, neighbourliness, community. Those are the

:27:53.:27:57.

characteristics of Scots. Separation is not that. My new

:27:57.:28:01.

partnership and to stay in the UK. England will not suddenly disappear

:28:01.:28:07.

if we go independent, it will still be there. But what Frank has said

:28:07.:28:10.

is that you're going to have a referendum in Scotland that will

:28:10.:28:14.

have a profound effect in England. It is almost as if we need to have

:28:14.:28:18.

a referendum in England about what the English think about this at the

:28:18.:28:22.

same time, because actually it is uncharted territory. The English

:28:22.:28:28.

could say, we will not let Scotland go? Frank has raised the important

:28:28.:28:33.

point that you cannot just separate two countries. We go on to another

:28:33.:28:38.

question from Phil Wishart. Up in a recent poll, nearly three-quarters

:28:38.:28:44.

of people said that the conflict in Afghanistan is unwinnable. Is the

:28:44.:28:49.

accelerated exit policy an admission of defeat? We have a lot

:28:49.:28:54.

of questions about Afghanistan. Is the exit strategy in effect an

:28:54.:28:57.

admission of defeat, given that three quarters of people say that

:28:57.:29:07.

the conflict is unwinnable? Janet. The exit strategy, I would say, is

:29:07.:29:11.

an admission of defeat in a war that is unwinnable, a war that we

:29:11.:29:21.
:29:21.:29:21.

should not really have gone into. It is a war in a country which has

:29:21.:29:26.

tribalism and strong religious beliefs. And I cannot see how

:29:26.:29:34.

anything we would have done would have changed the two opposing sides.

:29:34.:29:39.

If you look at when the British Army was in Northern Ireland, how

:29:39.:29:44.

long did that take? 30 years. And then the people of Northern Ireland

:29:44.:29:50.

had themselves to want peace. You cannot Tommy that the people in

:29:50.:30:00.
:30:00.:30:03.

So the talk about withdrawing being a success is rhetoric? It is

:30:03.:30:06.

rhetoric, and all the soldiers that have died in Afghanistan have given

:30:06.:30:12.

their lives for a war that is actually unwinnable and

:30:12.:30:17.

unfathomable, in my view. If you want to comment on this at home,

:30:17.:30:27.
:30:27.:30:39.

Ruth Davidson, the question is, is it an admission of defeat because

:30:39.:30:43.

we now say it is unwinnable? don't think it is. If you look at

:30:43.:30:48.

when we talked about the draw down of British forces, which has been

:30:48.:30:53.

talked about for some months now, we also have to look at how that is

:30:53.:30:57.

being phased in. We are at a stage where what we want to see as the

:30:57.:31:01.

endgame in Afghanistan is a stable state where Afghans take charge of

:31:01.:31:07.

their own security. At the moment, British troops are in central

:31:07.:31:11.

Helmand Province. They are training Afghan soldiers to look after that

:31:11.:31:18.

area. The Isa fish -- ISAF troops across the country are training a

:31:18.:31:21.

hundred and 45,000 Afghans to take control of their nation. Hamid

:31:21.:31:25.

Karzai has said they are close to the point at which they can take

:31:25.:31:29.

over, and it is time for the troops to go. And the Taliban have

:31:29.:31:34.

suspended negotiations. There is a lot of talk about how to deal with

:31:34.:31:39.

the Taliban in Afghanistan. In terms of where we have taken

:31:39.:31:44.

ourselves in that country, we have seen great improvements. What do

:31:44.:31:53.

you think of people saying -- three-quarters of people say the

:31:53.:31:56.

conflict is unwinnable? He speak to any female who has had schooling

:31:56.:32:00.

that they would never have had under the Taliban, they would be

:32:00.:32:07.

pleased. Is that winning a war, going to school? I do not think

:32:07.:32:12.

wars are won in opinion polls. the Taliban have already said women

:32:12.:32:19.

have to stay at home. If we allow the two sides to reach a settlement,

:32:19.:32:23.

the Taliban will withdraw all those rights. Let's hear from the

:32:23.:32:29.

audience. The woman at the back? do not think any country that has

:32:29.:32:36.

gone into Afghanistan to fight has ever won. Afghanistan always wins.

:32:36.:32:40.

So you think NATO should not have gone in at all and tried to chase

:32:40.:32:46.

Al-Qaeda out? Or did they stay too long? Perhaps you could do a quick

:32:46.:32:53.

for a, but you can't do anything else.

:32:53.:32:57.

There is rightly a lot of regret about Afghanistan, but what are we

:32:57.:33:00.

doing to learn from our experiences and issues like Libya, to avoid

:33:00.:33:05.

doing this again? What do you think the experience in Afghanistan is, a

:33:05.:33:09.

victory or a failure? I do not want to talk about victory or failure

:33:09.:33:13.

ten years after the war started. What do we do in the future to stop

:33:13.:33:19.

this kind of thing? How do you mean, this kind of thing? Well, for

:33:19.:33:23.

example, Libya was a completely different operation. We do not have

:33:23.:33:29.

enough knowledge with the people in these regions. South Frank Field?

:33:29.:33:32.

This is the only questions are far where I feel restrained in giving

:33:33.:33:38.

an answer. I supported the then government going into Afghanistan.

:33:38.:33:43.

Since then, so while not being central, I think we should be

:33:43.:33:48.

mindful that there has been a loss of 400 lives of British troops and

:33:48.:33:54.

5000 British troops have been badly mutilated. And while of course,

:33:54.:34:01.

policy should not be decided just on them, how we now stage our exit,

:34:01.:34:11.
:34:11.:34:13.

we should bear them in mind. And the language that we use, we should

:34:13.:34:18.

be mindful of them. I agree with the young gentleman at the front.

:34:18.:34:22.

There are lessons to be learnt from this, but there are lessons that

:34:22.:34:27.

should have been learnt from when we went into Iraq. I thought part

:34:27.:34:31.

of our going into Afghanistan, and the lady at the back was right, no

:34:31.:34:39.

country can claim to have beaten the inhabitants of Afghanistan. But

:34:39.:34:44.

we would also have a military programme and a political programme.

:34:44.:34:48.

It is Janet's point that the political programme from day one

:34:48.:34:51.

should have been to try to split the Taliban and get some of them on

:34:51.:34:59.

our side. If we genuinely thought this military intervention was at

:34:59.:35:04.

against terror and breaking up the terrorism training camps, it is

:35:04.:35:09.

clear that we picked the wrong country. It is Pakistan where most

:35:09.:35:15.

of this takes place, not Afghanistan. Once you name a date,

:35:15.:35:22.

however you try and dress it up, you change the politics in the

:35:22.:35:26.

country is. You try to bring about a political settlement by force.

:35:26.:35:33.

You are against the withdrawal in 2014? I think it is foolish to make

:35:33.:35:36.

those sort of statements for political reasons. But once you

:35:36.:35:42.

have made them, you change the politics. The debate then comes

:35:42.:35:47.

back Mack becomes not whether we keep to that date or whether we

:35:47.:35:52.

withdraw troops more quickly. woman in white? I think this issue

:35:52.:35:57.

of learning lessons is important, especially as regards the lives

:35:57.:36:01.

that have been lost. Surely we need to learn not to invade countries in

:36:01.:36:07.

a fit of vengeance without any due regard for history, without regard

:36:07.:36:12.

for what winning would even look like? And without regard for what

:36:12.:36:20.

happens. The man over there? As a serving army officer, I believe

:36:20.:36:24.

that whatever happens with the lessons that have to be learnt, we

:36:24.:36:32.

should not forget the 400 and for service personnel and those who

:36:32.:36:36.

have lost their lives and the 5000 who have been injured. Although

:36:37.:36:42.

fighting troops are being withdrawn in 2014, we will still maintain a

:36:42.:36:45.

presence within the Afghan National Army and the Afghan national police.

:36:45.:36:50.

I think that will go on for many more years to come. Do you have a

:36:50.:36:55.

view about whether the withdrawal in 2014 is an admission of defeat,

:36:55.:36:59.

and do you agree with people who say it is an unwinnable war?

:36:59.:37:03.

Conventional wars such as World War I and World War II, you could

:37:03.:37:08.

define the notion of defeat and victory. With an unconventional war,

:37:08.:37:11.

whenever you are fighting insurgents, you cannot define

:37:11.:37:18.

defeat and victory in terms of, we have won this or lost that. We will

:37:18.:37:22.

leave and look at the statistics and look at how much freedom the

:37:22.:37:25.

Afghan people have got, and how much development they have got, and

:37:25.:37:35.
:37:35.:37:36.

that is how we will measure the success or failure of the mission.

:37:36.:37:41.

Before we leave you, have used it in Afghanistan? I have not, because

:37:42.:37:47.

I am the joined the Army two years ago. But you would expect to?

:37:47.:37:53.

I have colleagues who are out there at the minute. Humza Yousaf?

:37:53.:37:58.

Gentleman speaks well. But the reason why this is an admission of

:37:58.:38:01.

defeat is not because this is a sacrifice of our brave men and

:38:01.:38:06.

women, it is because politicians have moved the goalposts. I was 16

:38:06.:38:10.

when we went into Afghanistan. But I remember then that the issue was

:38:10.:38:15.

to go and get Bin Laden, dismantle the Al-Qaeda network and the

:38:15.:38:19.

Taliban and get out. Now we have been twice as long in Afghanistan

:38:19.:38:23.

as we were involved in World War I. We have lost the battle of hearts

:38:23.:38:28.

and minds with the latest atrocity, the urination on the bodies of

:38:28.:38:32.

insurgents and the inadvertent burning of the Korans. We are

:38:32.:38:39.

putting our servicemen and women in danger. All of us have to reflect,

:38:39.:38:44.

as politicians on this panel and as a wider society, when did war

:38:44.:38:52.

become the first resort as opposed to the last? Were you against the

:38:52.:38:56.

invasion of Afghanistan? I was not against the invasion of Afghanistan,

:38:56.:39:01.

because the mission was defined as going in, finding Bin Laden and

:39:01.:39:04.

dismantling Al-Qaeda. It has now become an occupation. As the lady

:39:04.:39:08.

said at the back, no country has ever occupied Afghanistan. The

:39:08.:39:12.

British Empire, at the peak of its powers, could not occupy

:39:12.:39:16.

Afghanistan. The Soviet army could not occupied Afghanistan. Alexander

:39:16.:39:20.

the Great could not occupy Afghanistan. How on earth could we

:39:20.:39:24.

think we could occupy Afghanistan? A member of my family is a serving

:39:24.:39:28.

officer and has done five tours of duty in Afghanistan. He is fluent

:39:28.:39:33.

in Pashtun and has met various tribal elders. Over his five tours

:39:33.:39:38.

of duty, he said he finds that every time he goes back and speaks,

:39:38.:39:43.

sometimes to the same elders, they have stepped back. No progress has

:39:43.:39:48.

been made. Each time he goes back? There is a regression, rather than

:39:48.:39:55.

a progression. Willie Rennie? need to take a deep breath. At

:39:55.:39:59.

times, when soldiers died in conflict, we all feel for them and

:40:00.:40:04.

their families. We need to be careful that we do not make long-

:40:04.:40:08.

term decisions in these periods of stress. I would urge people to look

:40:08.:40:13.

at what we went into, the conditions we were faced with, the

:40:13.:40:18.

attack on 9/11. The response was to go into Afghanistan. Even Humza

:40:18.:40:22.

Yousaf agrees that it was right at the time. What do you do after

:40:22.:40:27.

that? We have caught Bin Laden, only recently. The Taliban have

:40:27.:40:32.

been active, so it is about bringing relative stability. We are

:40:32.:40:36.

talking about a judiciary, so that you have the rule of law. You are

:40:36.:40:40.

talking about the police and the military. We are training the

:40:40.:40:43.

police and military, and we are setting up the systems of law and

:40:43.:40:49.

order. It takes a long time, and it does go to and through. Sometimes

:40:49.:40:52.

you go back as well as forward. I have been to Afghanistan and

:40:53.:40:57.

Pakistan. It is a tinderbox. Frankie is right. It is actually

:40:57.:41:02.

about Pakistan as much as Afghanistan. If we were to withdraw

:41:02.:41:06.

in a rush, we would be betraying the people who have died out there

:41:06.:41:10.

and their families. We need to take the long view. But in the beginning,

:41:11.:41:19.

we went to fight the war on terror. But they are not in Afghanistan now.

:41:19.:41:23.

But what do you leave behind? not for us to rebuild countries

:41:23.:41:28.

around the world that do not conform. There is a consensus that

:41:28.:41:33.

we were right to go in and hunt down Al-Qaeda. When do you leave?

:41:33.:41:39.

Do you leave it unstable, or do you have a responsibility? But you did

:41:39.:41:49.
:41:49.:41:51.

not have an end date. Statice why we are keeping troops over their.

:41:51.:41:56.

Let me go back to the lady who was shaking her head when Willie was

:41:56.:42:00.

talking. The politicians do not always listen to the men on the

:42:00.:42:04.

ground. I do not necessarily mean the squaddies, who do a fabulous

:42:04.:42:09.

job, but the serving officers who have served more than one toff.

:42:09.:42:13.

They really do know. You say things go forward and back. After ten

:42:13.:42:20.

years, we should be making progress, not regressing. We will go on to

:42:20.:42:25.

another question now. Let me go on to one from Joseph

:42:25.:42:33.

Lumbasi, please. Was Donald Trump justified in warning the First

:42:33.:42:39.

Minister not to be "Mad Alex" over wind power? Barmoor Trump, the

:42:39.:42:45.

famous multi-billionaire, who is building golf courses - Mac Donald

:42:45.:42:49.

Trump suddenly rounded on the SNP and Alex Salmond about a proposal

:42:49.:42:54.

to build wind turbines. Everywhere in the UK is either threatened or

:42:54.:43:00.

welcoming wind turbines. He says he will not build his hotel until the

:43:00.:43:06.

whole thing is called off. What do you make of this? Janet Street-

:43:06.:43:12.

Porter, are you in favour of wind turbines? I was thrilled that

:43:12.:43:21.

Donald Trump might stop building that hotel. Fantastic news. I hate

:43:22.:43:27.

wind turbines. I have walked from Edinburgh to London for a series

:43:27.:43:31.

for the BBC years ago. And I walked right across England and Wales. The

:43:32.:43:36.

noise when you walk near a wind turbine that is in a beautiful area

:43:36.:43:41.

of outstanding natural beauty, you can hear them miles away. The

:43:41.:43:47.

disturbance from these things is awful. If they are offshore, if

:43:47.:43:50.

having one offshore means that Donald Trump will not build his

:43:50.:43:55.

golf course and resort, I would put up with one. But I have a house in

:43:55.:44:00.

Kent, and along the coast of Kent, there is issued wind farm in the

:44:00.:44:04.

Thames estuary. There are plans to put up more. It is not just about

:44:04.:44:10.

having the wind farms offshore, it is when you bring the electricity

:44:10.:44:16.

back on land. You have these huge sub-stations the size of several

:44:16.:44:19.

football pitches. And they are building them in areas of

:44:19.:44:24.

outstanding natural beauty. They are as big a blot on the landscape

:44:24.:44:30.

as the wind farm. When you read of wind farms breaking in high winds,

:44:30.:44:36.

and the government still has to pay for them, I cannot believe that

:44:36.:44:46.
:44:46.:44:48.

something as ugly as a wind farm is The Scottish National Party's as

:44:48.:44:53.

100% of Scotland's electricity can be produced by them and they will

:44:53.:45:03.

provide 60,000 jobs, according to your manifesto. 16,000 jobs. 60,000.

:45:03.:45:07.

That is what your manifesto said. Maybe you want to change the

:45:07.:45:12.

manifesto. I cannot change it after we got such a strong endorsement.

:45:12.:45:17.

Then you have to stick with the policy. Going back to that question,

:45:17.:45:27.
:45:27.:45:28.

I quite like wind farms. You have youth on your side! The opposition

:45:28.:45:32.

always say that Donald Trump is the best friend of Alex Salmond. He

:45:32.:45:37.

called him Mad Alex this week. With friends like that, you don't really

:45:37.:45:43.

need enemies, I suppose. What have you got against Donald Trump?

:45:44.:45:47.

not care a hoot what he thinks is best for Scotland. I would rather

:45:47.:45:51.

do what is best for the interest of the people here. We have a

:45:51.:45:57.

fantastic run 0 -- resource with renewable energy. 25% of Europe's

:45:57.:46:01.

green energy in Scotland. There is a fantastic resource. We have to

:46:01.:46:06.

invest in it. If we want a second bite of the cherry, we want to do

:46:06.:46:11.

any renewables revolution, we have to invest heavily in that. What is

:46:11.:46:16.

this 300 jobs there was talk about? They say it is 300 jobs and it

:46:16.:46:21.

rolls over for every wind farm. There have been hundreds of

:46:21.:46:25.

millions of pounds invested already in renewable technology. The First

:46:25.:46:31.

Minister was over in Qatar, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, where he signed a deal

:46:31.:46:36.

with Master city, one of the only foreign governments to sign such a

:46:36.:46:42.

deal. We are investing in renewable technologies. The reason people

:46:42.:46:46.

come to Scotland is because you have fantastic scenery and you are

:46:46.:46:53.

going to stick... Not if you have offshore wind farms. Willie Rennie.

:46:53.:46:57.

Both are you in favour of this? Some complain that it is not just

:46:57.:47:01.

those that are out at sea, but those that give landlords large

:47:01.:47:05.

rent for putting them in beautiful places. We should not forget the

:47:05.:47:10.

challenge we have. This is all about climate change. I suppose I

:47:10.:47:14.

disagree with Humza Yousaf in one respect, it is not just about jobs.

:47:14.:47:18.

It is about protecting the future of the climate. You are not

:47:18.:47:23.

disagreeing, just adding an argument to support his. We are

:47:23.:47:27.

trying to persuade people, because a lot of people do not like wind

:47:27.:47:31.

farms. If we sell it on the basis of jobs, rather than future

:47:31.:47:34.

generations and energy needs, I do not think we get the message across

:47:34.:47:38.

about how crucial it is. Do you believe 100% of electricity in

:47:38.:47:45.

Scotland can be produced by 2020? Yes. What you say to Janet Street-

:47:45.:47:48.

Porter's point that they are noisy and ugly and they will drive Donald

:47:48.:47:55.

Trump a way? I am a hill runner. I run underneath wind turbines, and I

:47:55.:48:00.

think there is nothing more beautiful of and more powerful...

:48:00.:48:07.

Than the sight of you running under it! I don't think my wife agrees.

:48:07.:48:11.

Personally, I find it disgraceful that you would worry about your

:48:11.:48:15.

view of the landscape when you are looking at renewable energy to

:48:15.:48:19.

provide for generations and generations. Right now, we are

:48:19.:48:22.

destroying our planet all around us and I think it is disgusting that

:48:23.:48:28.

you would worry about what something looks like. I worry about

:48:28.:48:32.

the landscape because you can never replace it. Once you have destroyed

:48:32.:48:36.

it and desecrated it, you cannot make it back again. I think

:48:36.:48:39.

technology will improve and there will be a better way of creating

:48:39.:48:42.

renewable energy than sticking up these ugly things that snap off

:48:42.:48:50.

when the wind is too strong. think wind turbines and wind energy

:48:50.:48:54.

should be part of a mixed energy solution. I do not believe we

:48:54.:48:57.

should have an obsession with any single type of energy. We have a

:48:57.:49:02.

rich array of sources in this country including oil and gas,

:49:02.:49:07.

hydro schemes in Scotland. We used to lead the way in hydro schemes.

:49:07.:49:11.

My problem with the preoccupation with wind farms is that it seems to

:49:11.:49:15.

ride roughshod over local people's views and consultation seems to be

:49:15.:49:19.

stacked against local communities. There should be genuine

:49:19.:49:22.

consultation. I also have an issue with the planning laws in this

:49:22.:49:26.

country, where a council can save a large scale wind developments

:49:26.:49:29.

should not go ahead and yet have the decision called in by the

:49:29.:49:34.

Scottish government to be overruled. So, are you with Donald Trump when

:49:34.:49:38.

he says Alex Salmond will be known as Mad Alex, the man who destroyed

:49:39.:49:43.

Scotland. I have never been with Donald Trump, nor will I ever be. I

:49:44.:49:49.

do not find him an appealing character. His Alex Salmond Mad

:49:49.:49:54.

Alex? I do not agree with him escalating the language. If we are

:49:54.:49:57.

talking about the Scottish government's policy of exporting

:49:57.:50:01.

energy to England and other parts of the UK, we already have a

:50:01.:50:06.

contracted agreement for that. 9% of energy goes to England. But the

:50:06.:50:09.

contract states that it cannot come from wind energy, it has to come

:50:09.:50:17.

from nuclear, because there is no base load for wind energy. I am

:50:17.:50:25.

doing a bit of a list. Well, don't. Round it off. There is a role for

:50:25.:50:29.

wind energy in Scotland but it should not be at the exclusion of a

:50:29.:50:39.
:50:39.:50:40.

mixed energy policy that takes into account local people's views.

:50:40.:50:44.

one is serious about saving the planet, we will not do it by wind

:50:44.:50:48.

farms. The one single thing that we can do to make a difference would

:50:48.:50:53.

be to protect our rain forests. But there are no votes in that so none

:50:53.:50:59.

of you are much interested in it and we will continue, apart from

:50:59.:51:06.

some valiant efforts to destroy our rain forests and our future society.

:51:06.:51:10.

What I object to about his passion, this extraordinary zeal about wind

:51:10.:51:16.

farms, is that nobody talks, this is a rich person's policy imposed

:51:16.:51:21.

on poorer constituents. They pay enormously above the odds for the

:51:21.:51:27.

green energy that so many of you - I must say it is only younger

:51:27.:51:31.

people clapped in the audience - think that it is actually the next

:51:31.:51:36.

thing to sliced bread. If we were serious about saving the planet we

:51:36.:51:40.

would get serious about the rainforests. If we were serious

:51:40.:51:44.

about producing power which did not have all of the disadvantages that

:51:44.:51:49.

Janet spoke of and the costs to my constituents, we would be much more

:51:49.:51:55.

seriously engaged with trying to ensure that our next round of

:51:55.:52:05.
:52:05.:52:05.

nuclear power stations are safer than the last. We have got five

:52:05.:52:09.

minutes left. I want to go on to another question from David

:52:09.:52:17.

Thompson. In light of the proposed minimum price for alcohol, why do

:52:17.:52:25.

the majority have to suffer because of an irresponsible minority?

:52:25.:52:29.

seems to be a contentious policy for a minimum price for alcohol,

:52:29.:52:33.

which was started in Scotland and now seems to be picked up by the UK

:52:33.:52:39.

Government as well. Winnie really, are you in favour of it? -- or

:52:40.:52:45.

Willie Rennie. The UK's relationship with alcohol is

:52:45.:52:49.

extremely unhealthy. The place -- the price has plummeted over the

:52:49.:52:52.

last 30 years and consumption has shot up. If you speak to the

:52:52.:52:59.

experts, they tell you... Sorry to interrupt, but according to

:52:59.:53:03.

National Statistics, the average consumption has fallen by 20% over

:53:03.:53:07.

the last five years. If you look over the last 30 years, it has

:53:07.:53:15.

risen 22%. It is statistics! Over the long term, it has shot up.

:53:15.:53:19.

There is a close correlation between consumption and harm. I

:53:19.:53:22.

meet far too many people whose lives are blighted by alcohol. We

:53:22.:53:27.

have got to do something. But only the cheapest alcohol. What about

:53:27.:53:33.

those who binge on expensive alcohol. The minimum price will put

:53:33.:53:37.

up the base price, so you will not have bargain-basement prices.

:53:37.:53:42.

those who can afford it will drink as much as they want? The students

:53:42.:53:46.

will not be able to afford to drink and everybody else will. You can do

:53:46.:53:51.

nothing, or you can introduce the measures that are proven to work.

:53:51.:54:01.
:54:01.:54:02.

Janet Street-Porter. I agree with the minimum price for alcohol and I

:54:02.:54:06.

would like to see it adopted in England as well. David Cameron has

:54:06.:54:12.

said that he is in favour of it. But I fear that in England the

:54:12.:54:17.

drinks lobby is so powerful and has such sway over the House of Commons

:54:17.:54:21.

that it is quite a long way off. thought they had agreed to do it

:54:21.:54:26.

from April. They have not, they are still discussing it. It has been

:54:26.:54:32.

discussed for ages. The fact is, the minimum price, having a minimum

:54:32.:54:36.

price per unit of alcohol, the people who are going to profit from

:54:36.:54:40.

this are the supermarkets. That is going to definitely affect small

:54:40.:54:46.

shops and businesses. And the new profits will go to the supermarkets.

:54:46.:54:52.

I don't understand why the tax on alcohol was not staggered.

:54:52.:54:56.

evidence is to the contrary. It says that what it will do is it

:54:56.:54:59.

will stop the supermarkets using alcohol as a loss-leader to attract

:54:59.:55:09.
:55:09.:55:10.

people into the store. The question was about who has to pay. At the

:55:10.:55:14.

moment, everybody is paying because of the relationship we have with

:55:14.:55:19.

alcohol. In Scotland we pay �700 million a year on alcohol-related

:55:19.:55:24.

conditions in the NHS. Escalate that across the UK and that is tens

:55:24.:55:28.

of billions of pounds being spent dealing with this problem. There

:55:28.:55:32.

are many ways in which we can read calibrate our relationship with

:55:32.:55:37.

alcohol. Price has a part to play. We are sceptical that minimum

:55:37.:55:41.

pricing is going to be a silver bullet, but we voted in the

:55:41.:55:45.

Scottish Parliament to give it the best chance to succeed and to

:55:45.:55:52.

measure the effects, to see if it works. This is almost an experiment.

:55:52.:55:56.

We want to give it a chance to work but we want to be able to analyse

:55:56.:56:01.

to make sure that it does. I am in favour of devising ways in which we

:56:01.:56:05.

can claw back the extra profits that the supermarkets make on this.

:56:05.:56:10.

I also want to underscore how important this is. It is not just

:56:10.:56:16.

some idea thought up by politicians. Drink, on the scale and some people

:56:16.:56:22.

consume it, destroys many young lives. There does not seem to be an

:56:22.:56:27.

urgency in the debate. Alcohol has far overtaken drugs in my

:56:27.:56:30.

constituency as the evil that rots from the inside and kills people

:56:30.:56:37.

off. It is the most terrible thing to behold. And maybe we have not

:56:37.:56:42.

got all of the right answers yet, but not to be acting, when we know

:56:42.:56:48.

how evil drink can be on so many people, is a negligence beyond

:56:49.:56:57.

belief. I agree. I think there is a huge problem, especially in the

:56:57.:57:01.

youth, their relationship to alcohol. I think it is also an

:57:01.:57:05.

educational thing. I think raising the price will go so far but I

:57:05.:57:10.

think the issue is a lot more fundamental. You are in favour of

:57:10.:57:14.

raising the minimum price? It could help but I don't think that is the

:57:14.:57:22.

real issue. I think it is more of an educational issue. The lady here

:57:22.:57:26.

is right. It is not designed to be a magic bullet but the Scottish

:57:26.:57:28.

Parliament and Scottish politics is at its best when parties come

:57:28.:57:34.

together and unite on an issue. 129 lives lost each year on average.

:57:34.:57:38.

This will potentially save 50 lives. It is a matter of disgrace and

:57:38.:57:42.

hypocrisy that we have a Labour Party member here who supports it,

:57:42.:57:46.

but his Scottish Labour colleagues did not vote for it because it was

:57:46.:57:50.

proposed by the SNP. It has been said that if the SNP were to invent

:57:50.:57:54.

the light bulb, at the Scottish Labour Party would condemn it as

:57:54.:57:58.

being an anti- candle device. thought you said we should come

:57:58.:58:08.
:58:08.:58:11.

together on this. I think the hypocrisy... We have not got

:58:11.:58:15.

Scottish Labour here. We have Birkenhead Labour. They are

:58:15.:58:25.
:58:25.:58:25.

embarrassed. No, we have Frank On the panel in Grimsby next week,

:58:25.:58:30.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, after the Budget, Chuka Umunna for

:58:30.:58:33.

Labour, and David Davies for the Conservatives. The week after that

:58:34.:58:39.

we are in Portsmouth. If you want to come to the programme get in

:58:39.:58:49.
:58:49.:58:53.

Thank you to all the panellists for coming here. Thank you, Willie

:58:53.:58:56.

Rennie, particularly, for coming up the last minute. It must have been

:58:56.:59:01.

David Dimbleby presents Question Time from St Andrews. On the panel: the former leader of the Liberal Democrats Charles Kennedy MP, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson MSP, Labour's Frank Field MP, the SNP's Humza Yousaf MSP and the broadcaster and journalist Janet Street-Porter.


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