15/03/2012 Question Time


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


journalist and broadcaster Janet Our first question is from Stephen,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


highlight unemployment as the biggest crisis so the Government is


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


public that are busy building up their balance used instead of


helping small and medium-sized businesses increase and take on


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


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


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


the Scottish National Party assessment? Not totally. There are


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


important move he could make to increase employment would be to


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


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


think of any other simple move that would most increase employment


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


years in school and find it difficult to present themselves


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


consider the fact that across Europe, youth unemployment is


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


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


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


our young people leave secondary education, they are better prepared


to work and more employable and literate. That means absolutely


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


young people who come into this country looking for work from


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


worth �1 billion. That will bring more apprenticeships and


incentivise businesses to employ more people. It will also bring


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


attitude, that somehow we have this extraordinary number of young


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


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


that while many people are desperately searching for work, at


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


basic, the reason I believe in independence is because the


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


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


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


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


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


independence because your life would come to a natural end unless


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


are clearly lessons that England needs to learn from this whole


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


neighbours. What were the consequences on them? And whether


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


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


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


welcome that the measure of devolution which you have had.


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


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


a legitimate question to raise the English question. The English


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


had �500 is because the scaremongering Unionist parties and


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


young people support independence is because we could be a


progressive beacon in Europe and the world with a fully funded


health service, fully funded education and the progressive


foreign policy which does not indulge in imperialist war and


illegal wars abroad. Is there evidence that an overwhelming


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


year-olds whose parents have registered them on the electoral


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


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


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


mandate you have for holding the referendum is from the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


charm me about the values of independence. You are just


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


Field with the idea of independence? He keeps harping on


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


back that it is not about Scotland separating from England but


Scotland separating from the United Kingdom.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


consequences of devolution which has been set up by the UK


Government, which is more colloquially known as the West


Lothian question Commission, to look at that point about where


England has English only legislation, because it is


legislation that is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern


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


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


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


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


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


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


to marriage and having children, but somebody said are they


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


outward-looking, neighbourliness, community. Those are the


characteristics of Scots. Separation is not that. My new


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


tribalism and strong religious beliefs. And I cannot see how


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


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


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


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


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


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


their lives for a war that is actually unwinnable and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


those sort of statements for political reasons. But once you


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


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


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


of learning lessons is important, especially as regards the lives


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


whenever you are fighting insurgents, you cannot define


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


insurgents and the inadvertent burning of the Korans. We are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Afghanistan. The Soviet army could not occupied Afghanistan. Alexander


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


having one offshore means that Donald Trump will not build his


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


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


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


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


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


football pitches. And they are building them in areas of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


millions of pounds invested already in renewable technology. The First


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


provide for generations and generations. Right now, we are


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


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


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


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


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


renewable energy than sticking up these ugly things that snap off


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


stacked against local communities. There should be genuine


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


talking about the Scottish government's policy of exporting


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


would get serious about the rainforests. If we were serious


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


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


seriously engaged with trying to ensure that our next round of


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


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


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


the majority have to suffer because of an irresponsible minority?


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


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


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


Willie Rennie. The UK's relationship with alcohol is


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


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


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


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


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


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


There is a close correlation between consumption and harm. I


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Parliament and Scottish politics is at its best when parties come


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Scottish Labour here. We have Birkenhead Labour. They are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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