David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Dundee. On the panel are Ruth Davidson, John Swinney, Jenny Marra, Willie Rennie, Patrick Harvie and Tim Stanley.
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QUESTION TIME FKR E075F/01 BRD000000
Tonight, we're in Dundee, and this is Question Time.
And good evening. Welcome to you, whether you're watching
or listening to this programme and welcome to our panel tonight,
here to answer questions and debate with our audience.
The Conservative leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson,
the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, John Swinney of the SNP,
Labour's Health Spokesperson in
the Scottish Parliament, Jenny Marra,
the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie,
the co-convener of the Scottish Greens,
Patrick Harvie, and the Daily Telegraph columnist
and leader writer, Tim Stanley.
Thank you very much.
Just before we take our first question, don't forget
Facebook, text or Twitter. The details are on the screen
if you want to comment on
anything that's said here, as I'm sure you may want to.
Callum Richardson, your question, please.
Is a second independence referendum
inevitable if Britain votes to leave the EU?
Ie, will Scotland have a second referendum vote if Britain,
as a whole, votes to leave the EU? Patrick Harvie?
My personal view is
I suspect Scotland will choose to ask itself
the question about independence again.
I'll expect to be campaigning for a Yes vote again.
Not for the same reasons, I have to say,
that some on the Yes campaign put forward.
The Greens have always set out a distinctive path on this one.
But I do hope that we don't have to address
that question in the context of the UK having
voted to leave the European Union -
a political and economic union that I think is of
far more value to us in Scotland in forging
a more equal, a more socially just
and a more environmentally responsible community of nations.
If we were to see the UK vote to leave
the European Union, I think it would be very
challenging for those of us who thought that we
had better answers to offer for some of the questions,
such as currency, than were put forward by the SNP in 2014.
I think it would be hard
for us to say this is a stable time in which Scotland
could make that break, particularly as we might be talking
about two years or more of negotiations.
I think it's far better for Scotland and for the UK,
whichever view you take of independence,
that we vote together in as big numbers as we possibly can
to stay in the European Union
and then to turn it into the socially just and progressive
-and democratic union that it ought to be.
-All right, thank you.
Ruth Davidson. APPLAUSE
Just a reminder of the question.
It's not to rehearse the arguments for in and out,
it's about whether the second independence referendum
would be inevitable if the UK,
as a whole, voted out but Scotland voted in.
No, I don't think it is inevitable. I also believe,
actually, that the whole of the UK will vote to stay in.
That's certainly my hope.
I think that we had a huge discussion about this.
At every event I was at during the independence referendum,
this was something that was known about and discussed
before Scotland passed its vote. We cast a clear-cut vote,
two million people said, "We want to stay part of the United Kingdom."
I've never understood the argument that the SNP has put forward
that says that being part of the wider EU,
if there was to be a Brexit,
where we export 15% of our goods and services,
is so important that we have to leave a union
where we export 64% of our goods and services.
It's a really easy one to solve.
Because, before the independence referendum,
everybody senior in the SNP said it was once-in-a-generation.
Since then, they've refused to say that again,
so I'll ask John to say it tonight.
OK. John? She's only asking you to say that.
Am I not to answer the other question?
-You can answer hers first.
The view that I take about this is that the people of Scotland
are the people that will decide
whether Scotland should be an independent country.
And nobody, absolutely nobody, least of all me,
can take away the right of the people of Scotland
to decide if they want to have another referendum
and to decide if they want to be an independent country.
So that is and issue in the hands of the people of Scotland
to decide, when - and if - that happens.
Sorry, can I just stop you there?
How do the people of Scotland decide whether to have
a referendum unless you have a referendum on
-whether to have a referendum?
-What there would have to be...
The Nationalist party has to legislate for it, don't you, John?
There has to be demonstrably clear support
that people in Scotland wanted there to be
an independence referendum,
and for Scotland to be an independent country.
And, ultimately, that issue
has to be resolved in a referendum
where people are free to vote the way they choose
-in that referendum.
How would it be affected, come to the main point,
about if the rest of Britain voted out and Scotland voted in?
The first thing I want to say is to agree with Patrick
that I hope people will vote, and vote decisively,
to stay in the European Union.
I will be arguing for that. The SNP will be arguing for that,
the Scottish government will be arguing for that,
because we believe that to be advantageous
for the social and economic and environmental wellbeing
of people in Scotland.
That is the argument I will put forward.
If we find ourselves in a situation where Scotland, for example,
has voted decisively in favour of EU membership
but we are taken out of the EU
because of votes outwith the United Kingdom, fundamentally,
the promise that was given to people in the Scottish referendum,
that you had to vote No to stay in the EU,
that was the argument put forward - you must vote No to stay in the EU -
then I think, fundamentally,
part of the promise of the No campaign has been breached
and circumstances change
in relation to the question of a further referendum.
Are you genuinely trying to claim
the last Scottish independence referendum
was actually a referendum on membership of the EU?
Because I don't remember that.
-What I'm saying is...
On a constant basis, Tim, one of the arguments put forward by
the No campaign, put forward by people around this table,
was that the only way you could secure Scotland's
membership of the European Union was to vote No
because that guaranteed your membership as part of the UK.
What I'm warning and cautioning about
is that the gamble
the Prime Minister has taken with the EU referendum
jeopardises Scotland's membership of the EU,
and that was not what the Prime Minister promised
-in the Scottish referendum.
Now, I think people are sick and tired
of the SNP holding the entire country hostage
and saying that whenever...
..whenever there is a policy that the union,
as a whole, wishes to follow,
they say they will hold a referendum and leave.
Think about it. Let's say that actually happened -
let's say Britain votes to leave the EU
and Scotland then votes to go into it.
What would happen on the basis of the finances
that the SNP has left Scotland with?
You would have austerity forced upon you by the European Central Bank.
So it's not even something you would want if you got it.
Let me hear from... Hold on. I'll come to you.
The woman there, just two in in the fourth row.
-I thought we voted to stay in the UK in 2014.
What has changed?
And what, in your view, has changed? Nothing?
55.3% of the Scottish population voted No.
If the UK, as a whole, voted Brexit, what would you think then?
I think it would give the SNP an opportunity
and an excuse to hold another referendum.
-And would you still vote No?
Even if it meant not being in the EU. OK.
-By the way, Scottish Euro-sceptics do exist.
-You said that already.
A recent poll showed 36% of Scottish people
want to leave the EU.
The SNP needs to stop characterising all Scots
-as being SNP.
I don't think the UK will vote to leave the European Union.
I don't think people want to take that risk overall
with jobs and the economy.
But if the UK does vote to come out
and Scotland votes to stay,
then it will very much be up to the people of Scotland,
as John says, and as the First Minister says,
if they want a second referendum.
However, the means to that, I think,
would be if the SNP were to put it in their manifesto.
I think that's a key question for this election coming up,
whether John's party will put
a second referendum in their manifesto.
Because, if that did happen, there are big questions,
as Tim said, about currency.
You would then be in a situation...
The SNP said they wanted to keep the pound,
so we'd be in a sterling zone with the rest of the UK,
who would be out of the EU.
I think we would be running the largest deficit
out of any EU country.
We'd be under a lot of pressure to join the euro.
There's no guarantees that accession to the EU,
or as a continuing state, as John previously argued,
would be guaranteed.
But I believe that Scotland is best within the UK
and the UK is best within the EU,
and that's what I'll be campaigning for.
I cannot believe I've just heard the Labour Party
selling the jersey on a second independence referendum
sitting next to me right now. You're such a mess on this.
You've got candidates standing that support independence.
Half of your candidates are putting things out saying,
"A once-in-a-generation decision,
"let's hold Nicola Sturgeon to that promise on independence,"
-and you're sitting here saying John Swinney is right.
Let's get yourself in order.
-They said before the referendum it was once-in-a-generation.
The people of this country made a choice.
They voted, more than two million people voted to stay in.
And I voted No as well.
We should honour that choice and we should make sure
we speak up for the people who voted No.
-I think Ruth is right,
we should honour the choice that people in Scotland made.
It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
But the danger that the Conservative Party
are imposing on Scotland is
that they are now threatening to leave the European Union.
Our ancestors would look down with incredulity
if they even thought we were considering
leaving the continent of Europe,
and all the benefits that come with it.
-We're not moving to the Caribbean!
-Hold on, Tim.
This is exactly what the Tories have put on Scotland.
The danger is that, if we do leave,
then it opens up the whole issue about independence all over again.
And it is not because of the two million voters who voted No,
it's because of Ruth's party.
They're determined to keep the issue alive.
Sorry, you say keep it alive,
you've got the Prime Minister,
I don't know how much it counts for here,
but you've got the Prime Minister urging to stay, a remain vote.
So why do you say the Conservatives are in favour of an out vote?
There's large numbers of the Cabinet
are arguing for exit, credible people on the other side,
and it's all because the Tories
cannot keep themselves together on Europe.
They are now dividing the country as a result.
I don't think that is in the interests of Scotland,
I don't think it's in the interest of the UK.
Can I just try this? Can I hear from anybody here in the audience
who is going to vote out,
and what they think the implications...
A lot of hands going up!
..what the implications would be.
I'll take you, the man there on the gangway.
I doubt that, in the event of Brexit,
given the scale of the public finances in Scotland,
the gaping big hole that we have,
they prove the White Paper no better than bog roll,
that the Scottish people would vote to leave the United Kingdom.
Any other Brexit...?
Yes, the person in the second row from the back there.
I think it's ridiculous to suggest
we should vote to rejoin an organisation,
if we do stay a part of it,
which costs us billions of pounds every year,
which means that Scottish farms and Scottish fisheries
are run by Brussels,
which means that we don't have control
over our own borders and we can choose who comes here,
and which means that we have austerity
forced on us by the European Union,
as we've seen with Greece, as we've seen with Ireland.
I have no idea why people would campaign to rejoin
or stay part of an organisation
which forces Scotland into these situations.
Do you think Nicola Sturgeon, and indeed John Swinney's view,
in Nicola Sturgeon's words,
that almost certainly there would be a second referendum
if the vote was Brexit? You think that is a policy
that won't have traction here in Scotland,
people object to it?
Or do you think it will be something you go through
and maybe Scotland votes independent?
I think people would object to it on grounds that,
why would we want to leave the United Kingdom,
and the cost that would come with that,
to rejoin an organisation which would cost us even more money
and which we would then give away the control
that we've just took back...?
I think what that argument doesn't pay attention to is,
what are the views of the people of Scotland in all of this?
Because if the people of Scotland
have voted Yes to stay in the European Union,
and the rest of the United Kingdom votes us out of the European Union,
a fundamental promise and commitment that was given to people that,
by voting No in the Scottish referendum,
we would secure our membership of the European Union,
will have been breached.
Ultimately what I believe
is that the people of Scotland are sovereign.
They are the ones that are entitled to determine their own future and
to decide to whom they give their sovereignty.
Do they give it to Westminster
or do they give it to the European Union,
or do they retain it for themselves,
or do they decide to share it with
whatever institution they wish to share it with?
That is a fundamental choice for the people of Scotland
and nobody can take that choice away from the people of Scotland.
The man there in the blue shirt. You were shaking your head at that.
Are we holding politicians to stick to the promises?
You promised it was
What was the nature of the promise,
that if Scotland voted No to independence
it would mean you were guaranteed to stay in the EU?
Because there'd already been the promise of a referendum on that.
And at every single debate I did, you brought it up every single time.
People knew when they were voting at the independence referendum
that the Conservative Party had said
we would have a referendum on the European Union
and everyone would have their say.
Ruth, come on, you listened to the same debates as I did.
-I was in them.
-The Prime Minister was here...
The SNP raised this every single time.
..saying to people,
if you want to secure your place in the European Union,
you cannot choose to vote Yes
because it won't guarantee you membership.
-Won't guarantee you entry.
-That was the promise that the Prime Minister
made to the people of Scotland and
that will be broken if there is a Brexit.
Every time you made a promise,
that you would honour the referendum result,
you wouldn't call a second one, it was once-in-a-generation...
Your boss Nicola Sturgeon signed the Edinburgh Agreement
that said we will respect the result.
Why are you not respecting the result that we had 18 months ago?
We have entirely respected the result. We have worked to secure...
-Listen to them!
-We have worked to secure the Smith Commission
that agreed the further powers after it,
we've worked to deliver the Scotland Bill
which Parliament will consider in the next couple of weeks.
We have respected the result but, fundamentally,
we respect the right of the people of Scotland
to determine their own constitutional future.
Which is why there's a referendum on EU membership.
-Their votes will be counted.
-There is hardly a week goes by, John,
that you don't seek an opportunity to say,
"If this does not happen on our terms,
"we are going to have another independence referendum."
That's exactly what happened.
You betrayed the trust of people.
You said... People...
You promised to the people of Scotland,
that there would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
You have gone back on that promise.
I think people in Scotland will not forgive you for that.
OK, you, yes. No. The man to his left.
First point to Jenny Marra,
you said that you're pushing again for the SNP to put
in their manifesto that they would have another referendum.
-The clue is in the name,
the Scottish National Party, their aim has never changed.
It's like saying the Green Party,
if they lost an election, would cease to be a Green Party.
They are always for independence, you know. Get used to it.
The second point is, Ruth Davidson, you know,
David Cameron clearly came up to Scotland,
and the whole Project Fear team, and told the people of Scotland,
"If you vote No, you will be guaranteed to stay in
"the EU, if you vote Yes, Scotland will be out the EU."
That was a definite repeated threat
-to the Scottish people.
When you say...
Third point... Can I just say..?
You can't go all round the panel because you'll be here all night.
Hold on a second, hold on.
Did you or did you not know there was going to be a referendum...?
Yes, which was promised in 2013.
Yes, but the conflict between that was David Cameron and
Project Fear coming to Scotland...
These are two different things, aren't they? One is to say,
"If you leave the UK, you are on your own,
"you will have to make your own decisions
"versus the EU and membership," the other is,
"Stay but there is going to be a referendum."
No, but the problem...
It was definitely not expressed in that fashion,
it was expressed in the fashion,
"Vote No and you are guaranteed
"to keep your membership of the European Union."
That's what the Prime Minister promised to deliver.
You were taken in, John, weren't you?
Because you'd forgotten the referendum was coming.
That's what was in the minds of people in Scotland.
-That's what they were told.
-Had you forgotten the referendum?
I voted Yes in the referendum, David.
On the European referendum.
I'm very proud I voted Yes in the Scottish referendum.
You haven't voted on the EU referendum yet,
that's what I'm talking about.
You, sir, in the middle there, shaking your head again.
-Let's hear from you.
-Ruth Davidson made my point
that we knew there would be an in-out EU referendum
if the Tories won the 2015 general election.
We voted No, for better or worse,
and John Swinney is effectively saying
we were too stupid to understand that point
-and he holds all the No voters in complete contempt.
-No, I'm not.
Not in the slightest.
The thing that astonishes me, actually,
is not that John Swinney or anybody else
is forever banging on about a second referendum,
it's the parties that were on the No side
that can't give up talking about a second referendum.
It's really quite bewildering.
-I will happily stop.
As soon as they repeat the words, "Once-in-a-generation,"
I will happily never mention it again.
For as long as they continue to threaten and push,
someone has to stand up for the No voters.
There are two choices to make in Scotland in the coming months.
One is what kind of government are we going to elect
and what kind of parliament are we going to elect,
bold enough and strong enough to hold the Government to account?
The second is whether we wish to stay members of
a European Union which does strive for controls on bankers' excesses
when the UK Government tries to block it,
whether we want to stay part of a European Union
that does try to get some degree of collective response
to a humanitarian crisis in Europe,
the likes of which we haven't seen for generations,
-when a UK Government is saying, "We want none of it."
-I know which way I'm voting.
Let's just...just take...
We can't stick on Europe all the time,
but I want to take this question from John Gordon,
if we can find you?
Hi. Is the In/Out vote on Europe not important enough
to listen to what the Queen thinks about it?
Ah, should...? Yes.
Do you think it is?
I think she does more for the country
than half of the people elected in Westminster.
Because the Sun, of course, had a headline this week saying,
"Queen backs Brexit,"
and reports had her as telling MPs at a reception,
"I don't understand Europe,"
and later saying the EU is heading in the wrong direction.
So the question is, why shouldn't we know what the Queen thinks?
Tim Stanley, do you think we should know what the Queen thinks?
Only if she wanted us to know.
The important point about that conversation is it was private.
Now, when the news got out,
the newspaper was right to report it
because that's what newspapers exist to do.
What shouldn't have happened
is that politicians shouldn't have gossiped
about what the Queen may or may not have said allegedly in private.
That was the mistake.
Now, having said all of that though,
whenever we think about the monarchy and its role in public life,
it's very much shaped by the particular monarch
that Elizabeth II has chosen to be.
Historically, it's unusual to have a monarch
who's this removed from politics.
Queen Victoria used to write passionate letters
to the newspapers, for example, demanding a ban on animal testing.
So monarchs have often been involved in politics
and it wouldn't surprise me
if a monarch was concerned about the loss of sovereignty.
It wouldn't surprise me if a monarch was concerned
about the cost of being a member of the European Union.
And it wouldn't surprise me if a monarch felt privately,
we are the fifth-largest economy in the world,
we are a damn important country, we can afford to go it alone.
The question is not... APPLAUSE
The question is not whether you would be surprised
at what the Queen may or may not think,
but whether all of us should be entitled
on an issue this important
to know what she thinks?
That's what the question is.
No, because that is not her constitutional role.
Having said that,
if she had intended people to know, then obviously we should know.
Again, I re-emphasise, we know in the '80s, or we're pretty sure,
that the Queen spoke about how she was distressed
about the state of poverty in Britain,
and she was concerned about apartheid in South Africa
and the state of the Commonwealth.
Don't imagine that monarchs have no political views.
So, John Swinney, when she said before the Scottish referendum,
"I hope people will think carefully about the future,"
in your view, was that a deliberate, intentional intervention?
No, I don't.
I think it was the Queen setting out
that kind of thoughtful position that we would expect from the Queen.
And I think the point that I agree with from what Tim's said is
that, if the Queen's had a private conversation with senior members
of Government on Privy Council terms -
which we all know what the rules mean,
they are supposed to be kept private -
and a member of the Government has thought it fit
to go to Rupert Murdoch's wedding and then have a conversation there
which miraculously results in this story being reported
on the front page of the Sun,
it says more about senior members of the Government
than it says about the Queen.
So you think it was Michael Gove, do you?
Well, is it just me that's been wound up by that conspiracy theory
or is that maybe something that might have happened?
I think essentially, if the Queen is going to be outside of politics,
which she's chosen to be -
other than on the occasions where Tim quite rightly says
she says something definitive, publicly or with her own words -
then I think we should respect the Queen's decision
not to be involved in politics.
You, sir? Up there?
I would like to take the panel up on the idea that the Queen
is supposedly outside of politics when, as you have been discussing,
she was apparently having some kind of tirade
in a Privy Council meeting over lunch
and quite possibly that may have been what influenced Michael Gove.
She's a masterful politician,
and with the calibre of some of our actual elected politicians,
it's quite possible she's exerting
much more of an influence than she should.
-So she managed to win over Michael Gove?
-You can imagine it.
All right, Ruth Davidson, can you imagine the scene?
I think I would go further than the original questioner
when he says he thinks the Queen's done more
than most elected politicians,
I think she's done more than all elected politicians
put together for the last 64 years.
And I think there's a difference
between unnamed sources gossiping about somebody else
and gossiping about somebody who's done so much, particularly
because she's stayed above politics and had a studied neutrality.
Because she's not able to correct the record the next day
and phone up the Sun.
What we should remember as well is that, one, the palace denied it
and has asked for an investigation to be launched by Ipso.
Two, the Deputy Prime Minister
who was supposed to be a protagonist in this conversation,
has utterly denied it.
And three, the only people
that seem to have graced the pages of the Sun with this
are utterly anonymous and won't put their hands up.
So we seem to have a story that no-one can stand up.
And I think when you have a person like the Queen
who's done so much for a country because she's stayed above politics,
and is then unable to make her position clear after the fact...
Actually, I think that while I understand newspapers
have to report news, this would have been best left alone
by the people who spoke to the Sun newspaper.
OK, anybody else want to come in on this? Yes?
Whether you take a positive view or not
of how the current monarch has done her job,
there is a very good reason why she's not entitled to have a vote,
either in elections or in a referendum.
You know, if this is someone who wished to be a private citizen
and to exercise a vote,
maybe even a vote for who the head of state would be
and we could all have a vote on that, I would welcome it.
Obviously it's difficult for someone in that position
not to form a personal, private view.
But to take a political stance,
whether in relation to members of the Privy Council
or in any other setting, is entirely at odds with her current role.
And if this private citizen called Elizabeth Windsor
wanted to have that different role, she should say so.
Are you alleging the story is true? Are you implying that it's true?
It's in the Sun, so form your own judgment.
I don't know what you mean by that. APPLAUSE
The thing that nauseates me most about this story
was hearing the editor of the Sun on the radio this morning,
claiming they've done this to stand up for ordinary people
against powerful elites.
To hear the editor of a Murdoch-owned newspaper saying
we should all pay attention to what the Queen thinks
because elites are a bad thing just makes my blood boil.
Do you want to come in on this?
I think for the strength of our country,
I think however anyone feels about the monarchy,
people would recognise that one of the main advantages of our Queen now
is she's stayed out and taken the decision, as Tim said...
monarchs have the decision to get involved or not,
she's taken the decision,
and that's been a strength of our democracy and that should maintain.
If people have private conversations with her, that should be respected.
Willie Rennie, do you want to come in on this?
No, no, it's fine. Move on.
You're done? OK, all done, as they say in the auctioneers'.
I'm in the auctioneers', all done.
A question from Kathy Aliberti, please. Yes?
Yes. Scottish Government figures yesterday revealed
a £15 billion deficit.
Is the economic case for independence now dead?
This goes to the heart of the whole business, I think. Ruth Davidson?
Somebody very close to the independence project,
a guy called Alex Bell, a chief adviser to Alex Salmond
during the White Paper-writing process
said the economic case was dead,
that you can't sell a case for low taxation,
high welfare on an oil price that was unusually high,
with revenues that were unassailable and unprovable,
and they've been found out.
The truth of the pudding has been in the eating.
I think, without going back over the very first question
we had on the programme today,
I think that not only is Scotland better off for being part of the UK,
and we see that by the Scottish Government's own figures,
to the tune of £1,400 per person,
but I think the UK's better off for having us in it.
I think, this decision having been made,
we should be pulling together,
trying to maximise all of our country, both sides of the border,
to bring in more investment from other countries and elsewhere.
The argument made was about the oil price, wasn't it?
That was where the dip in revenue came?
It was about actually the oil revenue, rather than the oil price.
This is the distinction that John Swinney's probably going to try
and blur because he likes to say
nobody suspected the oil price would drop
and we all got it wrong and that is just nonsense.
The difference is, we were saying even two years ago -
I stood up at First Ministers' Questions and said,
the OBR says that oil revenue for next year will be about £3 billion.
Alex Salmond tried to swat me aside, saying, don't be ridiculous,
it'll be £8 billion.
Actually it's going to be a lot lower than that.
We did know there was going to be a drop in revenue
and the cost of extraction was going to be higher.
We did know there would not be as much profits,
which meant we couldn't tax the companies as much,
which meant there wouldn't be as much money flowing into the coffers.
The difference is,
the SNP didn't make a case based on the fact that, we'll be independent
and we might take a short-term financial hit and move on,
they made a case promising Scottish people they would be £500 richer.
They knew that case was wrong when they made it, it was false,
they knew it and tried to con the Scottish public.
And I'm so glad that two million people voted No.
So just before I go to Mr Swinney,
you are saying the drop in the oil price is irrelevant?
No, I'm not saying it's irrelevant.
Obviously, we'd like to see a higher oil price,
but I will say is that the idea
we didn't know that oil revenues would be lower than they had been
and than was being promised, that is false.
What's at the heart of this debate is a debate about whether
we have economic confidence here in Scotland.
And, when I look at the data published yesterday,
and of course the data contains very difficult news
because of the fall in the oil price -
and I don't think it's an irrelevant factor,
it's a very significant fall in the oil price...
Sorry, why do you think it's not irrelevant and she thinks it is?
Ruth can answer for herself, but I think it is not irrelevant
because the oil price has fallen very dramatically
compared to where it had been.
The issue is how we nurture and encourage the investment climate
to ensure we can make the most of the resource available to us.
If you look at the data -
and it's not my data, it's independent data -
it shows there is still a viable and strong North Sea oil and gas sector,
if we can get the financial arrangements
correct for that sector.
And also if it is supported by an effective and higher oil price,
because oil companies are struggling to prosper
on the type of oil price that we have at the present moment.
The key judgment people have to make about the figures yesterday
is whether we take one year and say, "Well, that's it,"
or whether we look at a nation's finances
over a longer period of time.
Anyone who looks at a country's finances on a one-year basis
could look at the UK and Scotland in 2008 and say,
the deficit in the UK is double that of Scotland,
so it is all over for the United Kingdom.
That is the kind of rational that Ruth and her colleagues
are trying to get us to believe today.
So what I think we should take confidence from in Scotland
is that our economic performance is improving,
we have higher employment than the rest of the United Kingdom,
we have growing productivity in Scotland,
much higher than the rest of the UK in terms of growth and productivity,
and we are seeing a growth in onshore revenues in Scotland
which should give us confidence.
-That is the heart of the argument
for economic self confidence here in Scotland.
ALL TALK AT ONCE/ APPLAUSE
You go, Jane.
In terms of GDP, our deficit in Scotland is double that of the UK.
Our deficit is the largest in the whole of the European Union.
-Let her speak.
-You've had your say.
I find it really sad, the figures yesterday,
because I am sitting on a UK panel,
we're all representing Scotland,
and actually, productivity and this deficit is so high.
What does it say to people in Scotland that want jobs?
Where are the jobs for people who have been made redundant in Dundee?
When are your government going to address this
instead of hiding behind these figures
which blow your case for independence apart completely?
Let's take two of the things you have said. You asked about jobs.
Scotland has a higher employment rate today
than any other country in the UK.
That is a fact, so we are in a stronger employment position
-than any country in the UK.
-John, you go and tell that
to people in Dundee who have just been made redundant.
Listen, I give every support and do everything I can
to boost the Scottish economy,
which is why we have a higher employment rate
than any part of the UK.
Labour politicians should occasionally celebrate that,
not condemn the government for delivering that in Scotland.
Secondly, on productivity there has been a 4.4% increase
in productivity in Scotland since the SNP government came to power.
Compared to 0.2% for the rest of the UK.
OK. All right. Let's not get into that detail. You, sir, up there.
I don't think the employment figures are true on what you are saying.
Because when you take the people who have been sanctioned,
in Britain but particularly in Scotland,
they just wipe those people off the books.
It is not more jobs being created.
You see people unemployed around Dundee, like the lady is saying,
and the people on the streets in Dundee, and homeless and all.
They are not employed, so where are you getting these jobs from
that your figures are dreaming up? They're not real jobs.
-They're off the books.
I think John is being far too modest.
John predicted this would happen because he produced,
I don't know if you all remember, this secret Cabinet paper
which was subsequently published in the newspapers.
And it told us that Scotland's finances
would be prone to volatility
because of an oil price that may be volatile,
that the pensions issue would be a major concern,
that as a result there may be cuts to public services, cuts to jobs.
So John is being far too modest because he predicted this before.
-Then he spent the next two years trying to...
-It might help
if you quote what I actually said, Willie.
Not what you've just made that up.
-You've just made that up.
You've made that up, I can assure you.
Hang on. Let's sort this out. He says you've made it up.
You predicted all those things.
-Hang on. He says you made it up.
-Well, he's wrong.
-This is John's modesty taking over again.
He said it two years ago and spent the rest of the campaign dismissing
everything he was right about.
The argument I was putting forward
was the need for us to take long-term protection
to create an oil fund, like Norway, which is now worth £580 billion.
ALL TALK AT ONCE
And we've got nothing to show for it in Scotland.
This is wonderful.
If everything is desperate, reach for the oil fund!
-It's worth 580 billion in Norway!
Come on, John. What you would need...
What you would need is growth rates five times higher than China
in order to make up for this £15 billion deficit.
That is the scale of the challenge. We know about Chinese growth rates.
-They are not really real.
But John's growth rates are not real either.
Patrick Harvie. I will come to a member of the audience.
Until that little set to,
we were in real danger of having a thoughtful conversation!
Cathy's question is very clearly asking
whether the long-term case for independence
is effectively dead as a result of these figures.
I would say the SNP's case for independence is challenged,
but one of the reasons why the Greens never signed up
to the big book of answers in the White Paper
was that it was so heavily dependent on an oil-based future.
Greens see this as a challenge,
not just for Scotland but for all countries,
to break our over reliance on fossil fuels
before it is too late, not just for our climate
but for our economy as well.
This is a warning not just from climate change activists.
It came recently from the governor of the Bank of England,
demonstrating that our over reliance on fossil fuel,
an overvalued industry,
because we can't afford to burn everything we have found already,
this is a source of potential immense financial instability
for this country's economy.
Not just for areas like the Northeast,
which have a lot of direct dependence on oil and gas,
but on our whole economy as well.
So the challenge for us has to be
to find a break with that dead future
and invest in the alternative.
There are hundreds of thousands of jobs to be generated
in the long-term -
lasting, sustainable, well-paid jobs of the future.
Industries that can last,
not those that will be here today and gone tomorrow.
That is the challenge for Scotland.
I think we can meet that challenge in the context of independence
one day, as many other small, independent
northern European countries do, including those without oil.
But whether we do it within the UK
or outside of it as a strong independent country,
this is an urgent break we have to make in our economy
-because oil and gas is not our future.
APPLAUSE The man there.
Then I'll come to you, up there.
Yes, the man in the corner.
I think it's ridiculous to say that because of this black hole
that Scotland can't be independent.
The UK is like, £1.3 trillion in debt. It is ridiculous.
For David Cameron and George Osborne
to keep saying it's the last Labour government's fault,
if I had a pound for every time they have said that
I could probably pay for this black hole myself.
APPLAUSE Yes, you and then you.
I believe that Scotland needs to be led
without any more insecurity of referendums,
money being wasted on referendums.
Because if we were to invest that money in making Scotland great,
less people would want to leave Scotland,
rather than just Scotland leaving the UK or Europe.
APPLAUSE And you.
I despair, listening to this panel.
Every single one of you, what is the vision for the UK
in terms of taking forward finances?
Today, we have 1,500 jobs in Glasgow City Council,
jobs going in the NHS, jobs going in local authorities.
Everybody is sitting arguing amongst themselves.
What is your vision for the future to improve things?
Don't sit and argue.
I haven't brought Tim Stanley in, so I will.
Obviously, I hadn't spoken yet.
Let me give... As an Englishman, let me give my vision for Scotland.
It's... I bet you were waiting for that(!)
A very dangerous thing to do!
It's obvious that the SNP gambled on the oil price
remaining as high as it was so they could finance independence.
But I do hope we are not all overtaken
by a spirit of I told you so.
Partly because I think it is unhelpful, but also because, to me,
this shortfall and rising deficit
makes the positive case for unionism.
I am a believer in the old-fashioned principle
of Britain being one nation,
which means we are undivided by region,
or by class or language.
It means if one part of the country is running short of cash,
the other part steps in and helps out.
That, to me, is the principle of unionism,
the idea that we are a family
with collective responsibility for each other.
Sorry, you are shouting
and I don't normally bring in people who are shouting out
because it gets so noisy, but have a go.
-I have just relocated from the Lake District...
To Dundee, yes. The reason I have done this,
as an Englishman with some Irish ancestry way back,
is because I can see things happening in Scotland
that thrill me, that excite me,
that make me feel this is a country going somewhere.
When you talk about... I know you're a member of...
probably a Tory sympathiser,
..when you talk about the Union helping people,
living in the Lake District
I felt like a colony of the south-east of England.
It seemed to be run for the City.
It was not run for the benefit of England, but for the south-east.
-Yes, but the south-east of England...
-Let me finish.
..feels like a colony of the south-east of England.
We hate that as much.
But you're arguing for is voting for socialism, not independence.
Let me finish, please.
The point is that Scotland uniquely has the chance
to go forward on a smaller, flexible, dynamic basis.
I was delighted to get the chance to move here.
It is becoming a bit like Canada is
for the potential of being under Trump in the United States.
People who can are moving.
Ruth, do you want to answer?
Yeah, I'd like to answer this lady here.
I think there has been a lot of work
trying to make sure we have a positive economic vision
for the whole country. Things like reducing corporation tax
to encourage investment,
having the highest rate of growth in the last three years
out of all the G-7 nations.
That means doing things in Scotland.
I want to see more apprenticeships, not cutting 152,000 college places,
so we can train the next...
we can have more investment in vocational training
and train the next generation.
These are things we're trying to do
and I want to see happening in this country
to harness the growth we are seeing.
Yet more tax breaks for big businesses.
How different from the UK's agenda for the last 30 years!
You can see... consistent corporation tax cuts
under Tory, under Labour, under the coalition.
This has been a flat line corporation tax cut
and it fails to achieve a fair, equal and sustainable economy.
If you don't understand there's a link
between reducing corporation tax and encouraging business growth...
Seeing the biggest economic growth of any G-7 nation
-and more people in employment...
-Half of them aren't paying taxes.
Here is something you will like...
Here is something you will like,
something very simple that could be done, which has been done,
which is put in a business champion at every embassy in the UK
around the world, to get businesses into other countries
and help them around the world.
These are things everyone can agree on,
positive visions and actions we can take to make sure
the next generation know there are jobs on the horizon.
While we flog off our local high street to the multinationals
and the big corporations, what a lot of nonsense.
We've got only a quarter of an hour left.
I'll take one or two more points on this and move on.
The man behind you in the white shirt.
When we're talking about financials and the money, etc,
one of the things I do find unusual
is that you are talking about "lies, damn lies, and statistics,"
and then, frankly, figures put out by political parties.
Isn't it time we had, like in England,
a Scottish OBR so we could get some genuine figures
and we can make an informed decision?
We actually... I came from Parliament in Edinburgh tonight.
At 6:15pm tonight, Parliament legislated for the establishment of
the Scottish Fiscal Commission, which will do exactly what you say.
It would be independent of Parliament and government and give
-the statistics you are looking for.
-There you have your answer.
I'll just come back to the questioner.
You've heard all this, what do you make of it?
Your question was whether
the economic case for independence was now dead.
As we say in Scotland,
the economic case for independence was hung on a shoogly peg.
Now it has fallen to the floor.
I'm horrified that the SNP want to try
and rehang that case on the very same peg.
Those of us who predicted this situation
were constantly told we were talking Scotland down,
we were scaremongering. I think all of us are owed an apology.
I'm going to go on to another question.
Otherwise we will stick on the same topic and I've other questions here.
But just to say, if you want to join us next week for Question Time,
we will be in Chelmsford.
Then we'll pause for Easter
and we'll be in Ilford, east London, after Easter.
So you can apply to our website, or you can call the number there.
We'll give that all again at the end.
Let me take this question from Laura Meach, please.
With the majority of NHS Trusts in Scotland
in financial difficulties, would the panel increase taxes
to safeguard the future of the NHS in Scotland?
That's very clear. It's true of the whole UK,
that there are problems and financial difficulties everywhere.
What would you do about it? Erm... Willie Rennie.
I think there is a desperate need for proper investment in the NHS.
There is no doubt about that.
We need to make sure we pass on all the budget consequentials
of the protected NHS budget within England.
We need to make sure that happens, to make sure we deal with the real
crisis we have in GP recruitment,
mental health services that are often neglected
need a proper boost and we also need to invest in social care.
We have a commitment to increased taxes because, unlike John,
who has been arguing for powers for 80 years
and is now not going to use them,
we are going to propose an increase in income tax for education,
because John's government is butchering the education system.
He's cutting 152,000 places from our colleges.
We are talking about the NHS, not about education.
You have to stick to the agenda the audience creates here.
-You can't just go off on a point that you want to talk about.
But the point also, David, was about increasing taxes
and I'm in favour of increasing taxes to invest in public services.
-I think that's absolutely the right thing to do.
I've already set out what we want to do with the NHS,
but what we are proposing specifically
and this is why I deviated from your strict criteria,
is because we are in favour of increasing investment in education
because John's government's has butchered the education system.
-Laura, I think you are right to be concerned about
NHS spending here in Scotland.
We know that here in Dundee, NHS Tayside have
got to make savings or cuts of £27 million over the next year
and that's brutal.
You will probably know as well as I do
that health services here in Dundee are really stretched.
We've got a GP surgery in Lochee that's on the brink of survival
because they can't attract.
Scottish Government is having real problems
attracting GPs to work in our surgeries
so there are some real problems.
One of the reasons we are in so much deficit in the NHS
is because of the SNP's reliance on agency nurses.
There's more and more private nurses being called in to staff our NHS.
That's something, that trend that really worries me.
Scottish Labour Party is committed going into this election
and I think, along with the Liberals,
we are the only party committed to saying, actually,
we think the people that can afford it should pay a little more
because the cuts coming from George Osborne
and from John Swinney... You know, the council cuts in Dundee...
200 council workers are losing their jobs in this city
because of these council cuts.
So we are saying quite clearly that we'd put a penny on income tax
and that people who can afford it should pay that little bit more
to deliver the public services that we need.
So you'd increase taxes for spending
-on the NHS or for education?
-We have said the health budget
would be protected, completely, and, to be fair,
the Scottish Government have done that as well,
although I think there are other problems in the Health Service,
but we are saying that money, to go back to the other question,
should be invested in education and training
-because our economy badly needs it.
-So you would be happy
to see Scotland have a different income tax rate
-from the rest of the UK?
-Yes, well, we've...
You think you'd win votes on that?
Well, we think we will.
We think people recognise the problems across this country
in public services and those who can afford it
-are prepared to pay that little bit more.
I admire any politician who has the guts to say they are prepared to
raise taxes a little bit to finance something, that's very admirable.
I would vote for it as a short-term measure.
In the long run, we have to wake up
to a structural problem facing the NHS,
which is that we as a population are getting older and
a great deal of the NHS's problems in many ways
are to do with failings in care for older people.
The NHS is going to have to change.
It will happen within a lifetime.
Politicians will resist it because they know the principle
behind the NHS is so popular,
it's famously described as Britain's last remaining national religion,
but something's got to change.
It might be that governments encourage people
to invest in old-age insurance,
or that some sort of top-up system is introduced,
so that people might pay extra for certain services.
Either way, the idea that we can continue to supply such a monopoly,
such a generous well-funded monopoly
that provides the kind of care people expect
on the model that we have right now of direct taxation,
I fear that's not sustainable.
In the long run, some party has got to build up the nerve
-to take that on and change it.
John Swinney. APPLAUSE
Is it the SNP that will have the nerve to do what Tim suggests?
Let me say what the SNP is doing,
and we have responsibility for these things
and we take it seriously.
The health budget in Scotland is now £13 billion,
it's never been as high as that at any point in history in the past.
The level of employment in the National Health Service in Scotland
is higher than when the SNP Government came to office,
so we've invested to create that larger staff pool.
The choice I took in the budget, and it was my decision,
was not to use the power available to me to increase taxation
and the reason was not...
Jenny says it's because people who can afford to pay it
would have to pay more, it's people on £11,000.
-Hear me out.
-John, that's not true.
-People on £11,000 would have to pay more tax.
I don't think that is fair to ask people on that level of pay...
-That's simply not true.
-..to pay more money into public expenditure.
That is not true, John.
John... Because the tax thresholds have been raised as a result of
the budget coming this year,
it will mean that you would have to earn over £19,000
to pay a single penny more in tax as a result of these measures
and I think that's fair and reasonable.
Don't call yourself progressive.
People on that level of salary,
£11,000, would have to pay more in taxation and
I'm not prepared to do that.
If they don't have a job as a result of your cuts,
it doesn't matter because they won't be paying any tax anyway.
There are plenty of people on that level of salary who will have jobs
-and who would have to pay the tax.
-Not if you carry on.
-The key thing is to shift...
-Briefly, John, if you would.
..is to put investment in to shift the balance of care.
We have put £250 million
into integrating health and social care
to bring the services together
and shift the balance of care so people spend less time in hospital,
more time supported at home, getting the care they require.
That's the key reform we've undertaken.
We're further ahead than any other part of the UK
and our Health Service has been judged
to be the leading Health Service in the UK
effectively delivering health care services.
Described by the Prime Minister David Cameron
-as a litany of failure.
-Why did he say that?
the staff in our National Health Service work phenomenally hard
to deliver the care that people in our country depend on.
What do you make of what David Cameron said
at the Scottish Tory conference, a litany of failure?
I thought it was an insult
to the National Health Service staff that work in our hospitals.
The gentleman there said he didn't like
"lies, damn lies and statistics".
I'll only put in one statistic, it comes from the independent
Scottish parliamentary information service.
They say between 2010 and 2015,
even though health spending in England went up by 7%,
a proportion of that is passed on through Barnett consequentials,
it only went up by 1% in Scotland.
The SNP said they would pass on all of the money that comes from down
-south, it would be passed on to the NHS and they didn't.
-And we did.
-They didn't. The IFS say they didn't.
-And we did.
-The independent health services...
-Is all your politics tit for tat?!
ALL TALK AT ONCE
It is when that's blatant nonsense.
Skimming... They've been skimming off the top
and taking it from healthcare for years. That's not my words.
That's the independent parliamentary information service.
The rise in Scotland and England was 1% between 2011-2013,
1% each according to the Treasury figures.
In terms of the budget that was passed on,
it was a 7% rise in England, 1% rise in Scotland.
We want every single penny passed on
and we don't think low-paid workers should have to pay
for the SNP skimming money off the top
for populist measures like White Papers and referendums,
it should all go on health.
-There will be a very dangerous consequence
if we think this problem,
and there are serious long-term challenges within the NHS
and the rest of our public services,
if we think that can be solved by passing on Barnett consequentials
simply by having the same spending pattern between departments
as the UK Government.
Because at the same time as we are attempting
to do this integration of social care and health,
which is the right thing to do, but it's challenging,
particularly when people are under pressure and under resourced.
At the same time,
the local councils which deliver those social care services
are having their budgets cut massively.
I think that we cannot protect our public services,
which we all of us depend on,
unless we are willing to raise the revenue
that's necessary to pay for them.
-And I think...
-Why did you vote against it in the budget?
You had the chance to vote for an increase in taxation
and you declined.
All right, the person in the third row.
Please let me answer that allegation.
Only a couple of minutes left. Let's move on. Let's not have claim and counter claim.
It's all very well banding about statistics,
we want long-term reassurances
that we are not going to be threatened
with a privatised Health Service
and danger of TTIP and things like that in the future.
You, sir, in the blue, you wanted to speak. Just here. Yes.
Five minutes ago I heard a really interesting provocation
from Tim Stanley about taking a strategic view of the NHS
and I then listened to our same old politicians
bickering about who is spending more money,
putting more nurses out...
..and the inevitable obligatory pat on the head to
"aren't the nurses wonderful?" which any of them will say.
How about responding to Tim's provocation
and give us your strategic view...?
I'll respond to that if I may.
Laura Meach, I want to come back to you who asked the question.
You are saying the budgets are being protected.
However, NHS Tayside, as you said Jenny,
is £27 million in deficit this year.
Do you want to see taxes go up?
Not particularly. But, something has to be done.
-I was disappointed with Willie there,
because the Liberal Democrats, the Greens
and the Labour Party in the most recent Scottish budget
all proposed ways of raising taxes more fairly.
We proposed different ways of doing it
and it's legitimate to have that debate
about different ways of doing it.
We think it can be done most appropriately at a local level
because we are talking about local services nine times out of ten
that are under the most pressure.
If we want a provocation about,
"Wouldn't it be great if those who can afford to pay more
"get to buy extra services from the NHS?"
I would reject that, absolutely.
I don't think we can afford to surrender the principle
that we are all of us collectively better off
if we pay for our healthcare on that collective basis.
Frankly, I can afford to pay a bit more tax,
an MSP or an MP can afford to pay a bit more,
the people who're sitting on property wealth
that's even more unfairly distributed than income in Scotland,
-can afford to pay a bit more tax...
One last point, the woman in the striped shirt. Yes.
Is it not also important to point out
that the World Health Organisation's said the UK no longer has an NHS,
that by their definition it's been abolished?
I think south of the border they may well be right.
OK. I think we have to stop because our hour is up.
Doesn't feel like it, does it?
And with you lot, we could go on a long time!
No, thank you all very much indeed.
Our hour is up. We are going to be in Chelmsford next week,
we've got the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, for the Tories and
the Shadow Defence Secretary, Emily Thornberry, for Labour.
Then there's a pause and then on April 7th,
we are going to be in Ilford in East London.
So if you can come to the audience in Chelmsford or in Ilford,
go to our website or call the number...
If you're listening to 5 Live, as you know,
this debate will go on into the night in Question Time Extra Time,
but here in Dundee,
my thanks to all six panellists who came here to take part
and to all of you in our audience
who played such a provocative role
in countering the many assertions you heard made.
I'm very grateful to you, thank you very much.
From Dundee, until next Thursday, from Question Time, goodnight.
David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Dundee. On the panel: leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson MSP, deputy first minister of Scotland John Swinney MSP, Labour's health spokeswoman Jenny Marra MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie MSP, co-convener of the Scottish Greens Patrick Harvie MSP and Daily Telegraph columnist Tim Stanley.