LiveScottish election 2021: BBC Scotland leaders' debate LIVE

Follow here for Tuesday night’s leaders debate.

Tuesday, 4th May 2021, 9:14 pm

With just days to go before the Scottish Parliament elections, the leaders of the major parties take to the stage for the last time to debate each other on the big issues.

Tonight’s debate will be aired on BBC One Scotland at 7.50pm and will last just over an hour.

Follow here for live updates.

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Leaders' Debate from the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh. Picture shows L-R clockwise presenter Sarah Smith, Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross, Scottish Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, Scottish Labour Party leader Anas Sarwar and Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon picture: Kirsty Anderson/BBC Scotland
Leaders' Debate from the Corn Exchange, Edinburgh. Picture shows L-R clockwise presenter Sarah Smith, Scottish Conservative Party leader Douglas Ross, Scottish Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, Scottish Labour Party leader Anas Sarwar and Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon picture: Kirsty Anderson/BBC Scotland

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Scottish election 2021: BBC Scotland leaders’ debate RECAP

Last updated: Tuesday, 04 May, 2021, 21:57

Elections 2021 – when will we know the results?

Voters across Great Britain will head to the polls on May 6 on what has been dubbed “Super Thursday”.

There is a bumper crop of elections this time, as many were postponed from last May because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Every adult in England, Scotland and Wales will be able to cast at least one vote, which is rare outside a general election.

Estimated declaration times have always come with a warning they could be taken only as a rough guide and were subject to change in the light of new information.

However, in the case of the May 2021 elections, they have been very difficult to produce because of the circumstances of the pandemic, as authorities are unsure how long it will take to count votes while keeping to social distancing requirements.

Although voting ends at 10pm on Thursday, the final results are not expected until Monday.

Here is an overview of some of the Scottish party leaders’ final pitches to voters in TV debate

Scotland’s political leaders have clashed again over the constitution in the final TV debate of the Scottish Parliament election.

The exchanges between SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and her main rivals took place less than 36 hours before voters start to go to the polls.

The TV showdown, broadcast on BBC Scotland, saw the leaders of the five largest parties debate issues ranging from coronavirus to the care system and taxation.

Nicola Sturgeon rejected the accusation that an SNP-led Scottish Government would hold an “illegal wildcat referendum”, as the Tories have said.

Responding to the assertion of Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, the First Minister said: “No we won’t. I’ve always said that, Douglas.”

She added: “I know Douglas that your campaign has perhaps not been the most successful campaign, but don’t start to issue smears and just tell untruths about my position and what I’ve said.

“I’ve said consistently all along, sometimes to criticism from people in my own side of the argument, I would not countenance an illegal referendum – not least because it would not deliver independence and I want Scotland in the fullness of time and due course to become an independent country.”

Mr Ross said that, should a request be made for another referendum, Prime Minister Boris Johnson would reject it.

“Nicola Sturgeon has been clear. If she gets a majority, she’ll take her eye off the ball for Scotland’s recovery, for rebuilding this country from this pandemic and seek to hold another independence referendum.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, meanwhile, doubted the Tory leader’s commitment to the United Kingdom, saying: “The problem you have with Douglas’ approach is he’s just a gift to the SNP and if he leads the opposition after this election he’ll be the gift that keeps on giving.

“He’s only interested in saving his skin, not saving the Union.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the possibility of an independent Scotland would allow the country to shape a more radical future.

“I don’t think we can afford to pass up the opportunity to shape our own recovery,” he said.

“This is a moment of incredible opportunity to decide what kind of country is going to emerge from Covid.”

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, however, was exasperated by the discussion of the constitution, saying: “The people who are waiting an age for mental health treatment I think deserve better than this, the people who are desperate for a job deserve better than this.”

The First Minister also said she does not support an increase in taxes, but admitted “unforeseen circumstances” such as cuts to the block grant may necessitate such a move.

Mr Ross’ party has also said it wants to bring taxes in Scotland back into line with the rest of the UK, but claims this would only happen towards the end of the parliamentary term, if the economic outlook allows.

“I am not saying this is a cast-iron commitment,” the Conservative said.

“But our pledge is to seek parity in the tax system, for 1.1 million people in Scotland who are taxed more for doing the exact same job than they are in the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Mr Sarwar, who has also said he is against a tax rise but would want to see such a move for those earning at least £150,000 per year in the first instance, accused the Tory leader of wanting to give himself a tax cut – to Mr Ross’ protestations.

“What Douglas is trying to say… is he would give himself a tax cut rather than people across the country.”

Mr Ross is already an MP, and is seeking to become an MSP, as well as being the leader of the Scottish Tories.

“You want to give yourself a tax cut for perhaps all three salaries you want to earn,” Mr Sarwar told him.

What are the leaders looking forward to after Covid?

NS says hugging her mum, dad and wee sister is what she is looking forward to most.

She believes that for most people it is family connection they have missed the most.

PH said he would be “in absolute heaven” if he got to go to another beer festival.

DR said he is also looking forward to spending more time with family and hugging his parents. He and his wife are also expecting their second child next month.

WR is looking forward to seeing his parents, sister and grandchildren and wants to take part in “a masochistic hill race somewhere”.

AS said he hasn’t hugged his granny or seen his dad in over a year and that he’s looking forward to being with family.

Scottish election 2021: Who won the BBC leaders' debate?

Read more analysis here from Alex Brown on tonight’s leaders’ debate.

Thoughts on the referendum in tonight’s leaders’ debate?

AS claimed his Tory rival was “only interested in saving his skin, not saving the Union”.

He said he wanted people to “choose something different” from the arguments on the constitution, so the next Parliament can “focus on a national recovery”.

WR said he wanted to focus on recovery, adding: “The people who are waiting an age for mental health treatment I think deserve better than this, the people who are desperate for a job deserve better than this.”

But PH insisted independence gave Scots a chance to shape the country’s recovery from Covid-19.

PH: I don’t think we can afford to pass up the opportunity to shape our own recovery. This is a moment of incredible opportunity to decide what kind of country is going to emerge from Covid.

Thoughts on the referendum in tonight’s leaders’ debate?

NS said the Scottish Government will not hold an “illegal, wildcat referendum” as DR alleged.

DR again made the accusation, to which NS replied: “No we won’t. I’ve always said that, Douglas.”

NS: I know Douglas that your campaign has perhaps not been the most successful campaign, but don’t start to issue smears and just tell untruths about my position and what I’ve said. I’ve said consistently all along, sometimes to criticism from people in my own side of the argument, I would not countenance an illegal referendum – not least because it would not deliver independence and I want Scotland in the fullness of time and due course to become an independent country.

Thoughts on the Royal Yacht HMS Prince Philip?

PH: I think it’s an absurdity. The idea that you have families relying on foodbanks and this is a priority of the UK Government - it beggars belief.

WR: I don’t know we we are debating this. I don’t support it. I can probably think of 500 other things that I would spend £200m on and it is a ludicrous idea which will never happen.

He said the yacht is another one of Boris Johnson’s “tricks” to try to attract attention.

NS: It’s a ludicrous idea.

She said it’s another motive to distract attention from the “sleaze that is swirling around him and his government”

NS: It’s another reason why Boris Johnson should not be the guy who is making decisions about Scotland.

AS: It’s clearly a cheap stunt.

He said the money should be used for putting into businesses to keep them going and to keep people in jobs.

DR said he would wait to see what private money was available for deciding on his opinion on the yacht.

DR: Currently there is £3.8billion of capital spending unallocated in this SNP Scottish Government’s budget - why is that money sitting there? Why aren’t we investing it now?

NS said it is allocated.

AS has said DR would rather give himself a tax-cut for his “three separate salaries” rather than people across the country, and says Labour do want to raise tax by taxing online giants like Amazon.

He said if more money needs to be raised, the Labour would look to raise income tax on those earning more than £150,000.

WR says the LibDems has “aspiration” towards a universal basic income but the priority for the next parliament will be to put the recovery from Covid first and invest in more mental health services and 3,500 more teachers, as well as a youth jobs guarantee.

PH: There needs to be a deep look at all aspects of taxation to achieve not just the investment for the future, but also a fairer distribution of wealth.

Glen Campbell asks who has no fixed plans to change tax.

AS, WR and DR raise their hands, PH says it’s not the time do to it and NS says the discussion is “complicated”.

NS: We have no plans to raise tax in the next parliament.

She said based on assumptions on growth and tax revenues, the SNP’s manifesto commitments can be funded - and adds that it is really important “that we invest for the future” and the transition to net-zero carbon emissions.

NS: Bold manifestos are needed at this election. We have balanced the budget every year we have been in and we can afford to fund what we’ve said in our manifesto.

DR accuses NS for ‘uncosting’ the SNP manifesto clearly and that the SNP is not being “honest” with the public.

He says the priority is Covid recovery, but by the end of the parliament he would like to see parity in the tax system.

Scottish TV election debate: Nicola Sturgeon says she prefers 'four-nations approach' to reopening international travel

Read more here

NS: The next stage in this journey should be a national care service.

I think we need to reflect on the fact that just like the NHS, the care of our most vulnerable, older people should not be driven by the profit.

AS backs national care service saying he was being frank in pointing out it wouldn’t be getting into public hands overnight.

DR points out the success of some private care homes during the pandemic and says NS point undermines the work of private care homes over the last year.

PH said that eventually there should be a non-profit and default public sector expectation. It’s fair to say they take the strongest line on this.

PH: Care work is critical and should not be seen as low paid work.

He said the government needs to look at stopping the care system being run in a ‘fragmented way’.

WR: We are very wary of a nationalised care service because we don’t want to see a repeat of what’s happened with the centralisation of the police.

I think what we need to do now is invest in the skills and the talents of the staff because that is the way we will get a care service fit for service.

We should not make the same mistakes we have made in the past with a national care service.

The care service was not fit for service when the pandemic came along.

NS: The pandemic has shown the strengths of our care service.

Douglas Ross on £15 minimum for social care workers

DR: We have to look at what they are asking for and what is achievable

He pointed to a looming economic crisis ahead and said discussions need to be had with unions and staff in care.

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