Leaders Special with Tim Farron and Nicola Sturgeon Question Time

Leaders Special with Tim Farron and Nicola Sturgeon

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron and Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon face a Question Time audience in Edinburgh. Presented by Nick Robinson.

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It's D-Day minus three. On Thursday, we must all decide.


Tonight, the leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron


and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon


David can't be here tonight. He's preparing for the big night.


Over the next hour, our audience here in Edinburgh


will put their questions to two party leaders.


Neither are pretending they'll be your next Prime Minister,


but they could play a vital role in shaping the future


of the country, indeed, its very existence.


You can join in from home on Twitter, Facebook and text.


As ever, our guests have not seen the questions they're about to face


and they drew lots to decide who would start.


So first, please welcome the leader of the Liberal


Good evening. Good evening, Nick. Good evening, Mr Farren, thank you


for joining us. Let's get the first question tonight.


If properly controlled, why is internet surveillance


OK, firstly, Marco, you would like everyone else would have been here


last night, but we, of course Whiteley, this boned to pay tribute


to those who died. -- of course, rightly, postponed to paid tribute


to who died. We stand in solidarity with all those killed and injured


and their loved ones and those affected by the London attacks. You


think about what you are going to say when you come on a programme


like this after an event as happened on Saturday night. And you remember


yourself saying really similar things a fortnight earlier, after


the appalling outrage in Manchester. To my mind, our reactions, maybe


they are similar. Mine are heartbreak, the impact on those


individuals and their families, and frankly, anger that this should


happen to people in our community, that it should happen at all, such


utter wickedness. Therefore, the desire for something to be done is


utterly right. So the question is what is that? Indeed, so here we go.


Do we believe that the reason we have not been able to prevent


outrages such as those on Saturday night and two weeks ago in


Manchester was because of a lack of surveillance? Or was it because of a


lack of resources? It seems to me, for example, that we have at the


moment the ability, our powers, -- the powers, the police and security


services have the powers to follow and track criminals, to be able to


pursue terrorists, to be able to hack into their devices. What we


don't have is sufficient pairs of eyes and hands in our security


services and in our police force is to be able to pursue them and to


catch them. Now I don't know what could be done to prevent three utter


murderous cowards in a white van deciding to do what they did on


Saturday night but I do know that we are much safer if we invest in


police and in our security services. The additional 300 million that the


Liberal Democrats would put into policing across the country would


make us safer. The cuts Theresa May has made in the last seven years as


Home Secretary and Prime Minister have not made us safer. APPLAUSE


Are you convinced by that? I feel we are restricted and the police are


restricted in the surveillance they can do. I think they should have


more powers to be able to monitor these people, especially where data


has been encrypted on mobile phones. It is a new world we live in. Why in


your manifesto do you say, picking up on that point, that he would


"Rollback state surveillance powers"? It is not that you don't


want new powers, you want fewer? We are talking about the snoopers


charter, data surveillance, however you want to describe it. This is the


issue, when we are trying to deal with terrorists and suspected


terrorists, we need to be able to focus on what they do and who they


talk to. What we have at the moment, if you like, is an ever widening


haystack and we are looking for a needle. The answer is not to put


more hay into the haystack. It is to put more magnets around the haystack


so we can find what is in there in the first place. So you don't want


those powers, you want them rolled back? There are two things, I have a


practical concern and a principled concern. The practical concern is


this, our security services utterly need the ability to be able to catch


and trace people but the widening of powers is not something the evidence


is there to support. It is a practical problem and there is a


principal issue. The lady in the middle. You have said that the


practical is to put more police effectively back on the beat again,


that the Conservatives have got rid of, 20,000 bobbies on the beat. Are


you going to give them more than a big stick? Let's takes a mother


views. Lady at the front. One of the terrorists was known, he appeared on


an ITV 4 documentary. Channel 4. Unveiling an Isis flag. We have


thousands of Jawad is being allowed back into the country. Why are they


being allowed back into the country and why are we not in turning the


people we know are problematic? And the gentleman at the front. Just, I


don't want to feel like the thing is too reactionary and we are just


taking this for one issue to strengthen powers against terrorism.


Terrorism, by its own mindset, is basically to create fear and to


create a reaction. Strengthening views like that might be used


indirectly. Yes, we were hearing about a big stick. So we need to


have resources. Cressida Dick said today she did not favour and did not


think it would make us a safer country if we armed every officer in


the UK. I agree with her but that does not mean we shouldn't have more


resources and off that ?300 million the Liberal Democrats would give to


the police force, some of that would go towards ensuring we have that


capability. There's a question about people being allowed back in the


country and that is a really good question, given we had a question


about the powers we do or don't need. The government has, the Home


Secretary has the power to issue temporary exclusion orders. In the


last two years, she has used one. We know of people who potentially could


have been stopped. It is not whether we have the powers, it is whether we


use them. But it is not just that because you say in your manifesto


you want to rollback powers. You oppose powers for the security


services to read encrypted measures, -- cryptic messages, oppose taking


Internet history, you oppose the anti-radicalisation Prevent strategy


and you once talked about a paranoid, authoritarian state. You


are the new no powers man. We want to back the police do have resources


to do something about it. At times like this, it is very easy and


tempting for a politician to come up with a knee jerk, sounds good


response. I want to do some good. I realise at this point, people are


seeking answers and want to see action. For example, you talked


about the anti-radicalisation strategy, and you asked the question


before about people we know about and are not tackling. We know that


the murder in Manchester was reported by his community on five


separate occasions. -- the murderer in Manchester. That is a reminder


out there the community are desperate to tackle terrorism and


the police and security services don't have the resources to enable


them to do it. That is where the priority must be. So even if the


police and security services say they want more powers, you say they


are wrong and they can have more money but not more powers. If you


listen to the police and security services, what they want most is the


resources to catch people and there's also a point, what do


terrorists want us to do, to turn in on ourselves and be divided as a


country? They want us to give up on our freedoms and our liberties and


those are the things we must not sacrificed otherwise the terrorists


would have won. APPLAUSE Time for your next question.


Changing the subject, moving on to the issue of Brexit.


Is your second referendum strategy in any way respecting


I always think that if you believe in people having a vote, that is


generally quite democratic. I take the view that the result last June,


52-48, as narrow as it was, nevertheless, the government has the


mandate to negotiate Brexit and that is the direction the country is


going in. If I'm honest, it breaks my heart. I'm someone who believed


that Britain would still be better at the heart of the European Union.


Nevertheless, I accept that if the narrow wheel of the people. The


thing is this, though, what happens next? One might argue that Theresa


May has called the election as early as she has, despite the fact she


also has a clear majority in parliament because Labour backed


her, she has called it now before the details of Brexit become clear.


That plan, that deal that Theresa May and indeed the European leaders


will negotiate, will impact upon all of our lives, the younger we are,


for longer, and it will impact on the prices we pay at the


supermarket, on jobs and everything else. The single point here, Nick,


if I can finish... Then you can tell me if I'm right or wrong. It is


simply this that we will have to live with this deal for the next


several generations and it will either get signed off by the


politicians or by the people. What if it is a bad deal and I mean


dementia tax bad, that kind of bad? If it is that bad, shouldn't you


have the final say and not the politicians in Kenedy filled rooms


in Brussels and London. APPLAUSE We are having a general election to


decide who will give us the best deal going forward. Why do we need


another referendum to save we will take the deal or not? Which way did


you vote in the referendum? I voted to leave. The gentleman just down


here? Second referendum for the EU, why not a second referendum. And?


APPLAUSE Both Scotland and Northern Ireland,


as you know the voted overwhelmingly to remain. We are partners, equal


partners of the union, not regions. Do you support Nicola Sturgeon being


at the top table for Brexit negotiations? Let's comeback to the


Scottish issues particularly in a second and first deal with Ashley's


point, which is that she thinks you are not listening to the will of the


people. What part of no don't you understand? Fundamentally, my view,


I'm a Democrat. But you are not because you say there was a vote and


you want to have another one. We had a general election two years ago and


we appear to be having another one... APPLAUSE


I absolutely accept the result of the referendum and the people I


blame for the situation we have got ourselves in our David Cameron and


George Osborne who took the chance on our country's future and our


children will pay for it and they were on the Remained side so I blame


them if it's anyone. We are a country learned to deal with a new


future and we must do it together but that deal that none of us know


the content stop will be stitched up behind closed doors by Brussels and


London and I simply say the final deal will be stitched up, or rather


decided, endorsed by someone, either the politicians or the people. I


think it is ultimately democratic to say it must be the people. APPLAUSE


Do you want to come back to the Scotland question? The difference


between the positions. Let's carry on with the Brexit position, whether


people think you are or not listening to the will of the people?


Doesn't it just underline that a yes or no referendum is a blunt


instrument to make constitutional decisions with? Can I be honest and


say I'm not an enormous fan with referendums but if you start with


democracy, you can't end up with a stitch up. We voted for departure


last June but we did not vote on the destination. It was not on the


ballot paper and the only person I blame for that is David Cameron, it


is nobody 's fault but his but we have started with democracy and we


cannot end this process with a stitch up. After that, I will be


happy if we never have another referendum. I'm a young person and I


have just come back from living in the European Union and I really feel


like I'm being shut out of this debate about free movement, about


losing free movement, which would be so damaging to my life chances. Why


shouldn't I get a say on what kind of Brexit I want to see? I think


Vista Farron will agree with that. As a little reminder, it is a


brilliant point, but tee things I want to say, first, the majority


voted to leave, that is the result in the direction of the country but


all of us, especially the leaders, must not forget that three quarters


of young people voted to remain and they will have to live with the


consequences of this for longer than most of us. The second point,


freedom of movement is often raised but what about freedom of movement


for British people? Our ability to live, work and study, love and


explore overseas? These things matter, too, which is why the


content of the deal should be agreed by the people, not the politicians.


Forgive me, these are the arguments you put in the referendum and you


were defeated. 48% of the population voted Remain, nobody quite trust 's


opinion polls at the moment and not one of them as you above 10%. This


is not exactly a popular cause, is it? Cliche klaxon number one, the


only poll that matters is the one on Thursday. But it is right... If


people really wanted what you wanted, you would be a very popular


man, wouldn't you? That's a good question and I'm sure it may be so.


Firstly, doing what you believe in is the right thing to do, some


people think we take a calculation of our position, on this matter of


democracy for the final deal but do you know my major motivation? In 30


years' time, when my children are my age, I want to look them in the eye


and tell them I did everything I could to protect their future. That


is what being in politics should be about, not narrow calculation.


APPLAUSE The gentleman at the front here as


Stewart about the Scottish referendum. A second referendum is


OK for Europe but it's not good enough for the people of Scotland,


and we were promised the only way we could stay in Europe was by voting


no. OK, so the answer to this question starts with me saying


something nice about Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, wait for it. Nearly


three years ago, when Scotland had the chance to vote to leave the


United Kingdom, the SNP, it's then First Minister Alex Salmond,


produced a 650 page white paper showing what leaving the United


Kingdom would look like for Scotland. And 12 months ago, Nigel


Farage presented us with a lie on the side of a bus. They are not


comparable. The Scottish people voted in that referendum knowing not


just departure but destination also. They had no idea of the destination


because Britain have not elected Conservative Government but was


committed to have a referendum that eventually took us out of EU. The


people of Scotland voted on the basis of a false prospectus. If you


are a Democrat, why not give them another go? I fully respect whatever


people feel on both sides of the issue on independence. I am bound to


say as a northerner, it breaks my heart, the thought but you want to


leave us lot saddled with the Tories, please don't go, but the


second thing I would say on this is that we as a party stood in the


Holyrood elections, the Scottish Parliamentary elections, last May,


on a manifesto committed to Scotland as part of the United Kingdom and so


keeping to our mandate, it is right that we say we continue to support


the union and they're not being a rerun of the Scottish referendum. A


couple of quick points. In 2014, Scotland was told that if it wanted


to stay in the EU, it would have to vote no, so Scotland voted no and


endorsed the EU. In 2016, Scotland voted to remain in the EU. Twice in


two years, Scotland has endorsed the EU. Surely the only way to get a


route back into the EU per Scotland is to become an independent country?


Would you not agree there is misinformation on either side of


these referenda? There is certainly misinformation from the EU and there


was misinformation from the no campaign in regards to what we would


get if we stayed in the EU. You have less than ten seats now, you will


have less than ten seats in a week's time, what is the point of a vote


for the liberal platitudes? Thank you very much! If the polling is to


be believed, one third of the folks in here support the SNP and enough


respect to all of you and two years ago, you had six MPs and whether I


like it or not, you have made a significant difference in that time,


so don't write off people on the current number of MPs in single


digits. There were a bunch of questions about what happens next


and the rest of it. My view is simply this, as somebody who is a


northerner, committed to my collective British identity, I want


us to be a United Kingdom. I totally respect those who believe in


independence but I politely disagree. The issue about there


being untruths or wrong arguments on either side, Juno what? I mean, I


most critical about the arguments used by those who operated the


Remain Campaign. Talking about misuse of information. Why won't you


give them a Scotland referendum again? I think I have explained


that. You asked me a question about people giving wrong arguments and


all the rest of it. Can I point at the moment, I'm fairly sure, that


Remain lost the referendum last year? It was the moment the George


Osborne, who I should be nice to because he may or not print this, he


pointed out that if you leave the European Union, usual foreign


holiday, you lose your savings, you lose your pension, you lose your


job. A whole bunch of people in this country thought I had got none of


them, stuff you. The arguments for remain were not the emotional


inspiring ones that should have been used and we could well have won.


That is the history, a new question please, from Ann Treherne.


Do you feel conflicted between your faith and your policies?


Not in the slightest. I mean, my identity, like most of you in here,


is multiple in the sense that I am a father, yes I am a Christian, I am a


northerner, not as northerly as most of you but I count myself as a


northerner, I am a Liberal Democrat, I could be facetious and say I am a


Blackburn Rovers fan. All of these things make-up who I am and we all


but blend of different identities and I believe somebody who lives in


a society like this, which is so diverse and so balanced, I couldn't


want to pick another country in the world to be in. You know why the


question is being asked, it is because you have been asked it again


and again and you may consider it unfair that you have often been


asked whether you regard homosexuality as a sin? You have not


wanted to answer the question. No is the answer to that question. You


don't think it is a sin? Do you think abortion is wrong? The


question is do you act in a way because of what you believe


sincerely in your heart in a liberal fashion and defend people's rights?


I joined the Liberal party, as it was then, when I was 16 but one of


the very first campaigns I was involved in was trying to abolish


and get rid of section 28, that homophobic piece of legislation


introduced by the Conservative Government of that time and writes


the way through my time, passionate for LGBT plus rights, particularly


when we were in coalition Government, introducing gay


marriage, and that is what is important. He has been clear, he


doesn't regard homosexuality as a sin. What you think. You answer the


earlier question by saying you have to do what you believe in, you have


been active in LGBT and voted in favour of gay marriage, which I am


impressed by, I respect that. That must be very difficult with a


Christian evangelical background. No, if you are a liberal, you fight


for everybody's right to be who they are. I honestly don't understand the


conflict people think is there. Why is it so hard to answer the


question? I am not somebody who wants to go around talking about my


faith all the time. But you have had lots of interviews, you must be


tempted to say let's have done with this and answer it? Or you could


actually take the view that I am not running to the Pope and am not...


APPLAUSE So I am a political leader, not a


religious one. So I don't judge anybody. Utterly


key to my bed, for what it is worth, you treat others as you want to be


treated yourself -- key to my fate. You do not judge other people


otherwise you yourself will be judged. We will move onto another


subject and another. Frank Donnelly. Can we trust the Liberal Democrats


after the U-turn on tuition fees that left their reputation


in tatters? APPLAUSE


So, I am the leader of the Liberal Democrats. I made a promise to my


constituents by signing the pledge in 2015 to vote against an increase


in tuition fees and I kept my pledge. You can argue it cost me a


place as a Minister during that time of the coalition Government. It's


important to keep your promises. It's also important to do what is


right by the people that you represent. Whatever one thinks about


tuition fees, I can tell you from my experience as a working-class lad


who got to university in the late 1980s, what helped me to get to


university was the simple fact that I got a maintenance award and that


is what made the difference between me and my folks being able to afford


me going to university. That is what the Liberal Democrats are committed


to replacing, bringing in a ?7,000 a year maintenance award, so folks


like me and many in the United Kingdom, Mike Berry can afford to go


to university. -- can afford to go. Are you convinced? I just think if


the Conservatives don't get the majority they need, and there is


another coalition, how many of the pledges you have made just there


will be turned over? We are not going into coalition, I have made it


clear. Whether one likes it or not, Theresa May is heading for a


landslide on Thursday, one wishes she wouldn't... You just told us not


to trust the polls, how do you know she is heading for a landslide?


There you go, you got me. Nick, you got there, but one assumes. Nobody


calls an election at the point that she did she did not assume... Maybe


she is taking it for granted that is the outcome. Either way, we have


been very clear, we will not be going into coalition with any party


after this election. You can still make a massive difference in


opposition. Here in Scotland, quite a good example is the SNP


Government, just short of a majority here, the Liberal Democrats are not


in coalition or partnership for any pact with the SNP Government. We


stay in opposition and we make a difference from the opposite side.


If you want to stop dementia tax cuts in education and hospitals, in


opposition gives you the chance. Just on tuition fees, slightly


puzzling thing, your party promised to scrap fees after the election but


you introduce them. You voted against these but you know so you


will keep them because they are Pereira. Any wonder that people find


it hard to trust your party? -- they are fairer. That was always about


trust and not tuition fees. On the detail of the policy, has things are


now in England, you have to be earning ?70,000 a year now before


the new system that we introduced is more expensive for you than the one


that was replaced by Labour. So it is about making things better. The


priority of Ross is bringing back maintenance grants so working-class


kids can go to university in larger numbers. I am going to ask Josh West


to ask the question. How can the Liberal Democrats


justify making every tax payer Well, first of all, we absolutely


are proud of saying that we are going to be honest with all of you


that the NHS and social care across the United Kingdom is in crisis and


in England are specially, I would observe. And that means that either


you can have platitudes from people who will tell you they can solve


this problem without any extra money or we can be brutally honest and


savour the price of a cup of coffee a week, we can have the best NHS and


social care in the world. My view is this, there isn't a single person


who either themselves or their loved ones uses health and care in this


country and doesn't know there is a crisis. Social care, you have


wonderful, loving people, caring people, caring for our older people


who can earn more money stacking shelves at the local supermarket.


That is an absolute outrage and I'm determined to solve it and we will


solve it by putting a penny on income tax for everybody, to make


sure we have the best health and social care in the world. Just spell


that out a bit more, you say that is the price of a cup of coffee a week.


Take a police constable, for example. How much would you 1p tax


rise cost them? An average earner would be ?2 50 a week. A police


constable were ?235 a year extra at a time when real incomes are going


down. Isn't that important? We clear that what we are doing will make a


massive difference. You can do banal offers that you know you are never


going to keep or you can make promises... You could tax the rich


or big business? The richest in this country would be paying 95% of the


burden but this is a colossal problem and either we solve it or we


don't and the Liberal Democrats have a plan to solve it and we are going


to be honest with you and tell you how we will pay for it. You, sir.


You keep saying it is 1p, it is not, it is 1%. The second thing, you


mentioned dementia tax. It is nothing to do with dementia and it


is not a tax. How will you raise the money for the elderly if those who


can pay do pay? There is a great point and you are right to say


calling the dementia tax, Theresa May's dementia tax, does not fully


explain the situation because people with multiple sclerosis... He says


it is not a tax. We are short of time, so briefly. What Theresa May


is planning to do is say to everybody in this country who gets a


long-term condition, whether it be Alzheimer's or multiple sclerosis or


whatever it might be, if you have to get care then your spouse or your


children, bad house will have to go on the point of your death. That is


not something that is the case now. Theresa May says there will be a cap


but give me a colossal majority first and I will tell you what it is


going to be. So you think it is bearable somebody who works in


McDonald's or claims a hospital to have coupe in their taxes instead of


someone who has quite a prosperous background and has a house to pay


for their own care? We believe there should be a cap in terms of what you


pay for care. The seventh ?2000 cap that once upon a time was a


cross-party solution under Andrew Deal not. We believe the dementia


tax is an appalling attack on the poorest in this country. Nine out of


ten houses will pay for it. If you have dementia or your loved ones


have dementia, your house is at risk and on Thursday you have the vote to


stop it, to vote Liberal Democrat. Thank you very much your time,


ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much to Tim Farron.


Sorry to cut off Tim Farron but we need to be fair to our next guest as


well. and First Minister of Scotland,


Nicola Sturgeon. Good evening, First Minister. Thank


you for joining us. Let's get our first question this evening.


What can our politicians do to make our streets safe again?


Well, it's possibly the question that is uppermost in everybody's


mind right now and all of our thoughts of course remain with those


affected by that horrific and cowardly attack in the centre of


London on Saturday night and of course with the people of Manchester


as well. This is one of the greatest responsibility for any politician


and I think the first thing politicians need to do is be honest.


There are no easy answers. Often, the knee jerk responses are the


wrong ones. Firstly, we have got to tackle and address and challenge


extremism wherever we find it. I believe very strongly that we have


to do that with the Muslim community will stop we mustn't scapegoat the


Muslim community because it is wrong. Most Muslims are as appalled


at these attacks as the rest of us. It would also be counter-productive


because we are going to find it easier to root out extremism if we


are working in partnership with that community. Secondly, we have got to


make sure we invest in our security and intelligence services. And we


have to make sure we invest in our police. Obviously, one of the big


issues of debate today has been the reduction in police numbers in


England, 20,000 fewer police officers. In Scotland, we have


maintained police numbers and increased the numbers of police


officers who are trained to their firearms. After the Manchester


attack, Police Scotland was able to have an increased level of policing


from within its own resources without calling on the military


although we are very grateful for the offer of help from them. These


are the things we have to do. Two final points are these, I've made


one of them already about not scapegoating particular communities


but secondly, we must make sure that in our determination and all of us


share it to keep the population safe, we don't start to undermine


our own freedoms and civil liberties. These are part of what


makes us who we are. If you don't mind me asking, is that like saying


don't give new powers to the police and security services? We should


always listen very carefully to what the police and security services say


but they already have fairly wide-ranging powers. I listen to


some of your conversations with Tim Farron. They have asked for new


powers in terms of controlling people at home or interception,


there's a series of them. We have the ability to tag people who are


thought to be extremist, exclusion orders to keep people who have left


and gone to places like Syria, to prevent them coming back. The police


and security services have wide-ranging powers in terms of


interception. What we have to guard against is the security services


having so much data and information that they can't make sense of it.


There's a number of things we've got to do and I think we have to come


together and try to make sure we move forward here with as much


consensus as possible. Let's bring back in always. I find it quite


disturbing personally that there are armed police on the streets but the


incident in London would have been shot down -- shut down a lot sooner


if there were more of them around. I'll be perfectly honest, this is


one of the trickiest balances we have to strike. We have a police


force, not just in Scotland but across the UK, that is routinely


unarmed. My feeling is that is how the majority of people would prefer


that it stayed. But we must make sure we have got sufficient numbers


of armed police officers to respond to incidents like the one in London.


Frankly, the response of the police on Saturday night was exceptional. I


mean, all of us should be full of gratitude for the speed and


effectiveness with which they responded. Frankly, the police


saved, I think a lot of lives through their response on Saturday


night and we must make sure we support them to do that. APPLAUSE


Just before we move on to a different subject, just for clarity,


though, you are the third biggest party Westminster at the moment, you


would use your votes to vote against new surveillance powers, new forms


of control orders, even if, as they have done in recent years, the


security services say that is what they would like? We would study very


carefully the proposals that came forward, we voted against the


snoopers Charter because we thought it went too far in interfering with


civil liberties and did not practically enhance police powers in


the way we thought was effective but we would always look very carefully


and studied the case for any proposal for additional powers. I


want to move you want a subject you will be even more familiar talking


about, Scottish independence. Let's take the question from Mr Gallaher.


With SNP support falling, do you accept that you miscalculated


the mood of Scotland by calling another independence referendum?


Did you miscalculated the mood? Sometimes in politics, you have to


do what you think is right. Don't get me wrong, all politicians make


calculations and tactical calculations but sometimes you have


to be guided by principle. My position on this is reasonably


straightforward when you strip it all away. We face, not just Brexit


but perhaps a very extreme form of Brexit, that could have implications


and consequences for life in Scotland for generations to come. It


could see jobs lost, it could see investment in our country falling,


it could see the horizons of our young people in terms of freedom of


movement seriously restricted. Now my proposition is simply this, when


we get to the end of the Brexit process, and we can see what the


implications are for the future of our country, we should have a


choice. Do we think that is acceptable and right for Scotland or


do we want to choose a different future? Because fundamentally, our


future should be decided for us, not bias, which is the principal... A


quick point from the audience, sir. What I would say is that with you,


Nicola Sturgeon, you are very good at standing and speaking on your


podium at Bute House about independence but when it comes to


governing the country and tackling the big issues and current health


inequality, education, social care and those things, the SNP and


yourself are hopeless at it. APPLAUSE


We are going to give you the chance to talk about that more later. We


will come back to that. Please. Why have your approval ratings declined


by so much? You used to be the most popular First Minister but your


ratings have gone down ever since you became First Minister. And just


in front? I just want to raise a point you made about our future


being decided for you, my girlfriend is in the States right now and I'm


training to be a medical student, about to be a doctor and I'm going


to walk away from the NHS because the Tories are putting in


immigration policies that are not benefiting Scotland. I think the


people of Scotland will need to have a say, we need to have a voice and


you need to bring it forward as soon as possible. I think you would agree


with that but let's focus on the ones you might not agree with. They


are saying that you announced a second independence referendum, you


didn't have to do it, after Brexit, believing it would be popular, it


would be the moment that would change it all but in fact, you have


become less popular and independence has become less popular. Perhaps


putting the polls into context, they all suggest the SNP is on track to


win the election in Scotland fairly convincingly. I take nothing for


granted, I don't take a single vote for granted but we have to take it


in context. The points made by the gentleman here about the


responsibilities of the Scottish Government, and I don't stand here


and say that we don't have challenges to address but I was


hearing as I was waiting to come on, the discussion about the demented


tax and in Scotland, we support free personal nursing care so people have


less burden on their personal assets when they need care. Our NHS, if you


take the A departments, the best performing of any of the NHS systems


in the whole of the UK by a considerable distance. Health


spending in Scotland per head of population is 7% higher than it is


in the rest of the UK. We have more doctors, nurses, health professional


than anywhere else in the UK. I think we are doing a good job on


these things but we have to continue to make sure we address the


challenges we face. Still on the issue of the independence referendum


for now because we have other questions coming, I know, on the


record of the SNP government. If there was a second vote, should it


apply for a minimum period of time, for a generation, 25, 30 years? Of


course, you said it would be once in a generation. Let me be perfectly


frank about this, when we voted in 2014, we were told that voting to


stay in the UK protected our place in the European Union, and voting to


be independent risk to our place in the European Union. Less than three


years later, we find ourselves facing the prospect of Brexit with


no real understanding yet what the implications are for lots of aspects


of our change. My simple proposition is it should be our choice when the


time is right and we know what Brexit means for our country, to


decide what the future of Scotland should be because the alternative to


that... Are you saying that on the night you lost the referendum, you


went to bed thinking, that's it, there won't be another vote like


this for decades, not in my lifetime. On the night of the


referendum and until the Brexit rev read, if you'd told me I'd be


standing here right now talking about another referendum, I would


have said I didn't think that was the case. Many voters think that if


your whole life and all you have spent your time thinking about. I


want what is best for Scotland and the alternative to not having a


choice over our own future is we have to put up with Brexit


regardless of how damaging it is and that could mean narrowed horizons


for our lost people and tens of thousands of lost jobs. If there was


a second vote, would you stipulate for this time that it would apply


for a minimum period? I don't think it is right for any politician to


dictate to a country what it is future should be. That should be a


choice for the people of Scotland. So the answer is no. The lady there.


The idea of being possibly excluded from the UK and also Europe of the


same time, I find it exceptionally scary, it would give us no control


with regards to jobs and I think there's a lot of people who voted


SNP the last time you have the same thought. Are we to smaller nation to


be excluded from Europe and the rest of the UK? Some of the richest and


most prosperous countries in the world are countries of a similar


skies to Scotland. If that is your view, that is a choice you could


make. -- a similar size to Scotland. But in this election on Thursday, we


have a more immediate opportunity as a country to make our voice heard


more loudly in the Brexit negotiations, I think, to make sure


our interests are not ignored as Theresa May, assuming it is Theresa


May, take the negotiations forward. Someone mentioned freedom of


movement earlier. Immigration is a really difficult thing for


politicians to talk about because people have concerns but one of the


biggest challenges facing Scotland right now is the need to grow the


working age population. If we have the Conservatives putting more and


more restrictions on the ability of the best and brightest from around


Europe and the world to come here, that will be damaging for our


economy, not just now but for decades to come and I don't think we


shouldn't we accept that. Do you think it is right that 50.1% of the


population voting for independence could forever take us out of the UK?


That comes down to... Those are the rules. It comes down to whether you


think referendums are the best way to decide these issues. We will come


in to Brexit later. Excuse me, I feel I'm very angry, I'm sitting


here and I'm Welsh, I have taught the 1707 act very often and in no


way does it mention that Scotland is a country. You signed thataway. You


were glad to be part... I want to live at the time! You signed


thataway and I feel most denied that you are prepared... I was born in


Wales into Great Britain or the UK if you want to call it that, in


1933. I am British. I am proud that during the war, we fought with Scots


and the English. So you don't want a vote? I want to vote and I don't


have one. The man at the bud. You make some very valuable points about


the risks of leaving the EU about the ability to travel to work and


trade with the rest of the EU. Many, many more of us work and trade and


live with the rest of the UK than with the rest of the EU. Surely


Scexit is much more dangerous than Brexit? I don't want people to have


to choose between travelling and trading with the rest of the UK and


doing that with Europe. I think we should have the ability to do both.


If you listen to Theresa May and David Davis and other UK politicians


right now, they say to the Republic of Ireland that they don't have to


choose between trading with Europe and trading with the UK. Why should


we lose our ability to trade in the biggest single market in the world,


when tens of thousands on jobs depend on us being able to do that?


We should be able... The point being made to you... Why should we choose


between Scotland and the rest of the UK? The point being made is that you


are losing more trade if you choose to leave the UK, even than you would


be if you left the EU, I think. Why on earth would we stop trading with


the rest of the UK? Let's here from the man who asked the question.


Surely that then becomes whatever deal you manage to get after Scexit


is with the rest of the UK Government says, sorry, hard


bargains, no trade deals, be stuffed. The UK Government right now


is saying to Ireland, rightly, let me make care that Brexit does not


mean a hard border between the north and south of Ireland, it does not


mean interruption to trade. The Prime Minister went to Dublin, I


think, and said Ireland does not have to choose between trading with


Europe and trading the UK. How is it they can say that to Ireland but try


to pretend in Scotland that something different would be the


case? We should protect our trade with the UK but in my view, also


tried to protect our trade with the single market and the biggest single


market in the world, which is eight times bigger than the UK market.


That is the best of both words -- both worlds that Scotland should be


seeking to secure. I have not given you the chance to defend your


policies in government but I will do that now with another question.


You've said you want to be judged on education.


APPLAUSE For obviously people here and live


audience in Edinburgh know what you're talking about but why Chris


Woakes forgot what is it about the educational record that you think


raises questions? I think on a number of measures, the Scottish


education system, which is to be regarded as probably the best in


Britain is now, you know, the worst and I think that there have also


been misjudgements around things like the funding of tuition fees,


free tuition fees, which are paid for by... Just to remind people that


health and education are devolved policy so they are determined by


your Government. Firstly, I will defend free university tuition. I


got the chance to go to university because education was free and I


don't think I have the right to take that away from anybody and we have


more young people now in Scotland going to university than ever


before, including more young people from our most deprived communities.


I stood for the Scottish Parliament election last year seeking to be


First Minister and said over the course of the Scottish Parliament,


my priority was to raise standards in our schools and close the


attainment gap and we're working to do that through a range of different


reforms and additional investment director into our schools, to


headteachers, to allow them to employ additional staff or whatever


resources they think are necessary. In the internationally recognised


Pisa rankings, Scotland recorded its worst ever results last year for


reading, maths and science. That doesn't leave a great deal, does it?


Absolutely, these figures are two years old. All figures look at the


past. What sparked me making that commitment and I will be when we


come to contest the next Scottish Parliamentary elections, if I'm


asking people to vote for me again as First Minister, I expect to be


judged on that and it is legitimate to me to be asked these questions


and answer them but on Thursday, we are not using a Scottish Government,


we are choosing MPs who will go to Westminster and vote on public


spending, whether the money available to invest in schools and


hospitals goes up or down. We will elect MPs to go to Westminster to


decide whether the Social Security cuts that the Tories want to impose


that are going to drive hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million more


children across the UK into poverty and we need to make sure we have


strong voices. Do you think that forcing through the Draconian named


persons act will improve education results? Do you think you should be


focusing on what is important? Can I just make a point with regards to


higher education? Even though you have got free education, which, to


be honest, it isn't free, we are paying for it as taxpayers, it is


having the perverse effect of restricting and rationing places for


Scottish students in order for non-Scottish students to pay for


that. And secondly, also, the evidence is also showing that


regardless... With England having fees, there are in fact more


deprived students but percentage compared to Scotland actually go to


universities are free education is not... Internationally recognised


statistics show that England is more successful in getting deprived young


people into university than Scotland, even though the SNP


abolished tuition fees. I don't want to be too technical but the stats


are not directly comparable. More young people in Scotland than in


England and hedged acrylate higher education in further education


colleges but we have more Scottish students could university than ever


before, we have more places than ever before for Scottish students


and the gap between the richest and poorest is starting to narrow. We


need to do more. But young people in university are coming out of -- in


England are coming out of university with ?27,000 in debt from tuition


fees so students in Scotland have much lower debt to take into the


start of their working lives. I think education should be based on


your ability to learn, not on your ability to pay. Just clarify


something, you... It was quoted to you by the questioner, you said it


was your top priority and you would resign if you didn't get it right


and I think you are saying I might have to resign but not just now,


before the Scottish Parliamentary elections. With the greatest


respect, I was elected as First Minister in the Scottish


Parliamentary elections and put forward a manifesto for a five-year


term and at the heart of the manifesto was the priorities in


education. When we come to the next Scottish parliament election, I


should be judged on how to account, but on Thursday, we are electing MPs


hopefully to go to Westminster to protect public spending and stop the


Tories pushing more kids into poverty which will make it more


difficult for us to improve attainment in our schools. I just


want to stick with education and actually want to say that I was


quite angry to hear a gentleman earlier saying that Nicola Sturgeon


got it wrong with tuition fees. I am a first generation student, no one


in my family has been to university before myself and I would never have


got there without free tuition for myself, so I am outraged at the


suggestion that that is wrong. We will move on. You made your point


powerfully but the First Minister has addressed tuition fees. We will


move on to another question, if we could, on the issue of tax. Alistair


Drummond. How can you support increased top


rate taxes for the UK but not use devolved powers to raise


Scottish taxes? Just to remind people of the powers,


if you wouldn't mind, which is the Scottish Government does have power


and has had since 1999 to raise the level of income tax and more


recently has had wider powers to raise the top level of tax as well.


On the top level of tax, we have the power to set the road. What we don't


have power over in Scotland are the rules around tax avoidance, so we


don't have the ability to say we would stop people moving their


income south of the border or into capital gains, so we took advice and


the advice was if that was introduced in Scotland alone, then


we would risk not raising more revenue but actually seeing a


decline in the revenue we raised. So that is why we didn't do it in


Scotland alone. I think it should be done across the UK and if it is done


in the rest of the UK, we would do that here in Scotland as well


because we could be more competent than of raising extra revenue for


our schools and hospitals. There is no point setting a tax if you come


out with less money at the end of it. Mr Drummond? But surely if we


have independence, it would be exactly the same situation?


Absolutely not because with independence, we would have full


power about the rules around tax avoidance and overtaxed. We have the


power only to set the rate of income tax, we don't have the other powers


to go around creating the whole of the tax system. But after many years


of people campaigning for greater powers, first for a Scottish


parliament and then greater powers for the parliament, they are


pointless, these powers are unusable? On that particular issue,


they have to be followed for us to allow -- be allowed to use them in


Scotland. But you don't want to use them in any way? That is not true,


we are not raising the basic rate of income tax. At a time of inflation


racing, it is not right to ask lower and middle earners to pay more but


we have taken a different approach on the higher rate of income tax.


Unlike the Conservatives at Westminster, we are not giving a tax


cut to people who pay the higher rate of tax. Instead, we are


investing that revenue in schools and hospitals and that is absolutely


the right thing to do. APPLAUSE


I would like to move on for a second because our politicians south have


been talking a lot about mental health. Could we talk about tax if


you wouldn't mind? I can bring you back. The First Minister races are


not meant that we won't raise additional revenue if we raise the


top rate of tax -- races and are given that we won't. But in terms of


the land tax, you rate it and damaged the Scottish property


market. Regarding the 50p tax rate, is a Dodge is true that you want the


50p tax rate to affect London and the south-east and receive more


money... That is not how it works. If it was introduced in the rest of


the UK, we would introduce it in Scotland. I want full powers of


attacks in Scotland but right now, if we do it in Scotland alone, we


couldn't prevent people shifting their incomes and we would run the


risk of losing money. Surely common sense tells you that if the advice


as you might lose money by putting a tax up, it would not the most


sensible thing to do? I want you to ask your question, you wanted to


change the subject onto mental health. Thank you. I just wanted to


ask if perhaps we could move one step forward from many pledges that


we hear about mental health and have a mental health committee, with MPs


and patients alike working together to scrutinise and advise on policies


that are going to have a direct impact on their lives? Yes, that is


something I will take away and give consideration to. We do try to


consult patient groups and consult organisations that work with patient


groups before formulating policy in any area but it is particularly


important in health matters and I think probably particularly


important when it comes to mental health. We are investing a lot of


try and improve mental health services just now. One of the good


things I think we should all be positive about is that more and more


people come forward for mental health help now because the stigma


around it is reducing and that is something that is good but it puts


more demand on services, so we have a real obligation to invest but I


certainly take your suggestion about looking at how we formalise the


patient input. Just time for one last main question. Could I get a


question from Gillian Main? Would the SNP be prepared


to compromise on an independence referendum and join a coalition


with another party to stop Just to be clear, when you say


compromise, what do you mean? Put it on the back burner for the time


being. I said my position on an independence referendum, I certainly


would want to be part of an alliance, a progressive alliance,


the arithmetic and added that would keep the Conservatives out of power.


Part of an alliance that would invest in public services and end


the cards to the support for the most vulnerable in our society. But


if they if they said they could only work with you, that is the question,


if they could only work with you if you said no to a referendum not


forever but maybe for a period of a parliament? I think that the end of


the Brexit process, people in Scotland should have a choice and I


have already set out why that is the case. You are losing a lot of votes,


I think, from SNP supporters by continuing with the independence


referendum at this time. Because? And I will give the First Minister a


chance to reply. Some people just don't want it and don't think it is


the right time because everything else that is going on. I'm not


proposing now, I accept that point. When are you proposing it? At the


end of the process. When is the end of the process? I don't know, I am


not in charge. You used to be clearer, Spring 2019. Theresa May


says the deal will be done before the UK exits and if that is the


case, that is the end of the process, we know what the deal is


and if it is not the case, clearly that timetable will be longer. She


talked of a transitional deal of year or two, 2020, 2021? She talks


about a lot of things like that. I think trying to keep up with Theresa


May's positions in this election has become quite difficult on a whole


range of different things. Can I come back to your point about a


progressive alliance, to use that terminology? I would want to be part


of that if it was possible but do you know what? I think looking at


the polls, the Conservatives are unfortunately still going to win


this election but it is no longer inevitable but Theresa May gets a


bigger majority and that is a choice of Scotland, do we vote for MPs that


stop Theresa May increasing her majority or not? Last very quick


question. You say you want independence to take us back into


the European Union. Can I ask you whether you would commit here today


to the Scottish fisherman that you will not barter away our fishing


resources to join the EU or a single market?


APPLAUSE I and the SNP and people before me


in the SNP have argued against the Common Fisheries Policy, we have


argued for it to be scrapped or fundamentally reformed. It is the


Tories time after time that a sold-out Scottish fisherman and


believe it, they are shaping up to do it all over again. Thank you very


much, I'm afraid you are right time. Ladies and gentlemen, thanks to


Nicola Sturgeon. APPLAUSE


That is all we have got time for tonight.


Question Time and David are back on Friday,


the night after the election, for a special programme.


Until then, from us here in Edinburgh, from me and the First


Minister, thank you for watching. I want to know...


..what will happen next. And I want to know...


..what it all means...


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