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BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special

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Participants

  • Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
  • Labour Leader Keir Starmer
  • Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey
  • SNP Leader and First Minister of Scotland John Swinney

Ed Davey, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

How the Liberal Democrats would pay for increased spending plans

  • Manifesto has been costed, with a big health and social care package at the centre. Have shown how they will pay, for example making oil and gas companies and big banks pay more
  • To pay for mental health funding, there would be extra taxes on digital services
  • Clampdown on tax avoidance and evasion – want to invest £1bn in HMRC
  • It’s not a bottomless pit but proposals are fully costed and sensible and we need to invest in public services
  • Any child in poverty should be getting a free school meal

Whether there is a credibility issue

  • It was very difficult governing with the Conservatives
  • Either had to stay in and fight or leave
  • Not proud of some of the votes that took place; would want to overturn some of the things that were agreed to

Whether his campaign antics have been ‘prime ministerial’

  • Have well thought through policies but politicians shouldn’t take themselves seriously
  • It has been for a bit of attention but there has been a serious message behind all of the stunts

Children who are in desperate need and whether we can raise the threshold of income tax

  • Can’t do anything just yet but want to do something when circumstances allow
  • Two child limit on Universal Credit is wrong and has to go; can happen quickly and is costed in manifesto

Whether the manifesto is unrealistic because the Lib Dems won’t get in power

  • Election isn’t over; is trying to persuade people to vote Liberal Democrat
  • Realistic about chances; wants to defeat as many Conservatives as possible
  • Would be challenging to become Prime Minister but doesn’t want to put a ceiling on ambitions
  • It is not a wish list, it is a programme for government and there are costings
  • One of the lessons learnt from being in Government before is you shouldn’t promise something you can’t deliver
  • Has spent the last few years trying to rebuild trust

How the younger generation can trust him after being burdened with student debt as a result of 2010 coalition actions

  • Understands why people don’t have trust and were punished at the 2015 election
  • Has learnt not to make promises he can’t keep
  • Thinks Capital Gains Tax on very high earners should go up
  • Tuition fees issue has been scarring but since becoming leader he has tried to connect with people

What he would say to voters in the North

  • There are seats in Greater Manchester he is sure they can win, as well as places like Sheffield Hallam, but most of the seats they can realistically win are in the South West, Home Counties, Shropshire and Mid-Wales
  • Young people are worried about knife crime and so the Lib Dems have to get beside these people in schools but also via community police

If they would go into a coalition again

  • Not focused on after the election; wants to use every minute to put forward Liberal Democrat policies and values
  • More Liberal Democrats MPs they have, the more influence they have

Whether he is proud of his conduct when he was Post Office Minister

  • Horizon scandal is biggest miscarriage of justice in history
  • Was first Post Office Minister to meet with Alan Bates; had categorical assurance from Post Office that points made by Mr Bates were not true – he wished he had seen through the lies
  • Courts depend on people telling the truth
  • Whistleblowers need more protections

If Paula Vennells should face criminal proceedings

  • Serious mistakes made by Vennells, Post Office Executives and Fujitsu
  • Supports criminal investigations and public inquiry
  • Evidence we’ve heard speaks for itself

How to make it easier for young people to afford homes

  • £6bn each year of capital investment
  • Should be 150,000 new social homes built each year
  • Approach is a community level approach
  • His wife is a social housing lawyer
  • Issue needs political will

John Swinney, SNP Leader and First Minister of Scotland

How will he differ from previous SNP leaders following scandals

  • Party has had a tough time over the past few years
  • Wants to rebuild trust between SNP and electorate, and provide direction necessary in Scottish Government to change people’s lives
  • Got to recognise importance of delivering the priorities of the public

Whether the SNP has become too complacent due to the one party domination in Scotland

  • Have been a minority Government and a majority Government
  • Has got to win friends and allies on every piece of legislation
  • Doesn’t want any proof of complacency
  • Wants to bring people together and not have a polarisation of debate

If the SNP are going to carry on with independence referenda until they get the answer they want

  • Genuinely feels Scotland would be better off as an independent country but is a democrat and accepts it should be for Scottish people to decide
  • Not being permitted by UK Government to put concept to Scotland despite high support
  • Wants people in Scotland to confidently vote for SNP to turn manifesto into a reality

What the SNP would do to support growth in the manufacturing sector

  • Would argue to rejoin the EU; Brexit has had a disastrous impact
  • Take new fresh, dynamic ideas from universities and fuel with public investment

Convincing Scottish people the SNP can lead an independent nation after scandals

  • Productivity has grown faster under the SNP Government than the rest of the UK
  • Significant expansion of early learning and childcare
  • Whole range of decisions that have been made in Scotland that have been good for Scotland
  • Need better economic performance in Scotland but need broader range of powers

Fixing the NHS in Scotland if no more funding comes through from Scotland

  • Accepts there are some very significant challenges in the NHS in Scotland today; impact of Covid and playing catch up
  • Receive a block grant from Westminster but Scotland can also raise its own money; have increased tax on higher earners to raise money to help address issues
  • 14 years of austerity has affected the Scottish NHS
  • Will put in resources to address immediate issues such as long waits but have other examples where Scotland are performing best
  • People are experiences complex health issues

How the SNP can keep people in Scotland together whilst campaigning for divisive referendum

  • Wants to bring people together to debate issues with courtesy

Scottish support for EU membership

  • In 2016, Scotland voted emphatically to stay in the EU
  • One of the reasons people voted to stay in the UK is because they thought they could stay in the EU

Why the Scottish Government is backtracking on net zero promises by granting new oil and gas licences

  • Any new licences have got to pass a climate compatibility assessment
  • Committee on Climate Change accept we need to use oil and gas for some time to come
  • Issues around energy security; journey to net zero is inescapable
  • New activity made on a case by case basis and whether it is compatible with net zero aims
  • Wants to work with oil and gas sector to help with transition – will need the skills of the industry

How the Government will tackle climate change in the UK and beyond

  • Dialogue with many southern African countries on loss and damage
  • Responsibilities to reach out and work with other countries

Would Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer be the better choice for Scotland

  • Conservatives have been a disaster and can’t be out of office quickly enough
  • A given Labour will win
  • Wants strong SNP voices in Westminster

Would more devolution of powers be an option over independence

  • Has welcomed development of Scottish Parliament
  • Never going to say no to more powers
  • Wants to do things that will transform people’s lives; can’t achieve this as part of the UK

Keir Stamer, Labour Leader

Why did he back Corbyn’s 2019 manifesto

  • Campaigned for the Labour Party
  • Wanted good colleagues to return but knew they wouldn’t win
  • Electorate clearly gave verdict and party have done a lot of work to rebuild
  • This manifesto is fully costed and funded

Increasing NHS and defence funding without increases to the mainstream avenues of tax

  • Will not be increasing the mainstream taxes
  • Will be putting money into the NHS straight away
  • Defence has to be first priority of any Government; will always make money available for defence
  • Disgrace to see where the NHS is now – need to fix it but also reform it

Working with the EU amidst a rise in right wing governments

  • Is worried about some of the tensions and trends
  • Will have to work with all leaders across Europe but will always make progressive argument

How NHS staff working on wards are going to see support

  • Will treat staff with respect; will not blame NHS staff for pressures
  • Will be working evenings and weekends to get lists down so will need to ask a lot of staff but will pay them to do it
  • Need the workforce coming in so we aren’t relying on agency staff
  • Sticking plaster politics one of the biggest issues now
  • Will start the work from day one to clear the backlog by the end of the Parliament

Why should anyone believe Labour following a series of U-turns

  • Economy has been badly damaged; Labour doesn’t have the money to do everything it wants to do, such as lower tuition fees – has to prioritise things like the NHS
  • On nationalising energy, it would have cost tens of billions and would have been used to buy out shareholders; windfall tax proved the better option to get the bills down

If its acceptable for Labour not to commit to specific migration targets

  • Migration numbers are out of control
  • They need to come down significantly but will not put out an arbitrary target
  • Need to balance immigration so it works for the economy
  • Need a skills strategy to ensure we have the workforce doing the jobs we need i.e. social care

Former comments from Rosie Duffield on female biology

  • On biology, agrees with recent comments from Tony Blair
  • Recognises people have positions and views on gender
  • Wants to treat everybody with respect
  • How you do politics and deal with difficult subjects is important
  • Wants to return politics to service and bring the country together because politics has become more and more divided and toxic

Removing tax breaks for private school and whether this will place strain on state system

  • Understands families work hard and save to send children to private school but all parents are aspirational for their children
  • We do not have enough teachers in state secondary schools
  • Wants to recruit staff we need to teach core subjects such as maths; need to fund this by removing the tax breaks

Rent costs and how renters are supposed to save deposits

  • Young people are having to pay a huge part of a decent wage on rent
  • Want a low deposit scheme for people who can prove they can pay a mortgage because they can pay rent
  • Have to stop landlords ripping off tenants via bidding wars; can pass legislation to say it can’t be done

Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister and Conservative Party Leader

Whether the UK is a laughing stock after having five Prime Ministers in 7 years

  • Acknowledged mistakes have been made; argued against policies of Liz Truss
  • Inflation has come down to 2% – can do more

Allegations of betting on the election date

  • Incredibly angry to learn of allegations; right they are being investigated properly
  • If anyone has broken the rules they should face full force of the law
  • Investigations are ongoing and are serious – if anyone is found to have broken the rules, they will be booted out of the Conservative Party

Rebuilding trust between young people and politicians

  • Feels an enormous debt of gratitude to repay what the UK did for his family; will work hard to repay that

How people will be encouraged to take up a National Service scheme

  • Met someone recently who had been in St Johns Ambulance who had been able to put skills to use
  • Spoken to lots of people in the armed forces who have been working on schemes to encourage people to get involved in the armed forces
  • Military option would be optional
  • Would be a set of sanctions and incentives; lots of different models from around Europe

If Brexit has denied young people a future

  • Job is to realise the benefits of Brexit, such as freeports
  • Wants to built on progress that has been made and allow people to keep more of their money by cutting taxes

Doubling of NHS waiting lists under his Government

  • Hasn’t made as much progress as he would have liked in tackling waiting lists
  • Putting record investment in NHS and are doing things differently, such as more treatment outside of hospitals

Low staff morale in the NHS and how frontline staff can trust the Conservatives

  • There is more money going into the NHS debate than in its history
  • Situation is challenging due to backlog of missed appointments from Covid
  • Children can now see pharmacists for a range of illnesses and treatment via the Pharmacy First programme

Not allowing migrants to bring family members

  • Migrants can make a positive contribution but migration is currently too high
  • There will be a legal migration cap if he is returned as Prime Minister
  • People who bring family dependents should be able to demonstrate they can support them
  • Dedicated visa for social care

On being stricter on entry requirements in order avoid illegal immigration

  • It should be stricter; need to be able to remove people who come here illegally and remove them to somewhere safer

Whether it was the right moment to call the election

  • Glad he did, it was the right moment

If he has any regrets during his premiership

  • No one gets everything right and understands peoples frustration
  • Wish more progress had been made on waiting lists

If he would leave the ECHR to push forward Rwanda policy

  • 15 EU countries agree having the ability to remove illegal migrants to a safe third country is a good idea
  • Believes everything is compliant with international obligations
  • Will choose UK’s national security over membership of a foreign court
  • Audience member said only two other countries don’t subscribe to the ECHR – Russia and Belarus

Policies that could positively impact young people

  • Cutting taxes

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