Report: Scottish independence referendum debate from Greenock

Key Points

  • The first in a series of BBC Scotland television debates, ahead of the Scottish independence referendum, came from Greenock.
  • On the panel: Actor Sanjeev Kohli, deputy Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and journalist Alex Massie.
  • On 18 September, voters go to the polls when they will be asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

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  1.  
    2045:

    Good evening and welcome to coverage of the first in a series of BBC debates ahead of the 18 September Scottish independence referendum.

     
  2.  
    2046:
    Debate stage

    Tonight's programme, from Greenock in Inverclyde, is broadcast on BBC Two Scotland at 21:00. It features a panel made up of actor Sanjeev Kohli, deputy Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and journalist Alex Massie.

     
  3.  
    2050:

    Get involved in the debate by e-mailing your comments to referendumdebate@bbc.co.uk or by using the Twitter hashtag #bbcindyref

     
  4.  
    2103:

    The first question from the studio audience comes from Jim Watson, who asks: "Would removing Trident leave Scotland open to attack?"

     
  5.  
    2104:
    Fiona Hyslop

    Fiona Hyslop says no. She says nuclear weapons are not what Scotland needs.

     
  6.  
    Edward Kelly

    #bbcindyref We dont need #Trident this money could be invested in thousands of job opportunities for the unemployed, lets get rid of WMDs.

     
  7.  
    2106:

    Anas Sarwar says the Trident issue goes to the heart of the incoherence of the SNP argument for independence. He asks how the SNP can favour membership of Nato, a nuclear alliance, when they want rid of nuclear weapons.

     
  8.  
    2107:

    Sanjeev Kohli says he's "swithering" on independence, but says when it comes to Trident, he swithers towards "Yes".

     
  9.  
    2108:

    Alex Massie argues the removal of Trident is a non-issue in the independence debate.

     
  10.  
    The Saint

    tweets: Good point. Trident is such a non issue in the #indyref

     
  11.  
    2109:

    Anas Sarwar says nuclear weapons are wrong, but it "doesn't make independence right".

     
  12.  
    2110:

    Fiona Hyslop says issues like defence and loss of life in the Iraq War (strongly opposed by the SNP) are far from trivial.

     
  13.  
    Talat Yaqoob

    tweets: I'm anti trident, but it's removal would not a be consequence of #indyref - we could push to remove at any point not just in this debate

     
  14.  
    2111:

    An audience member asks about the costs of closing Faslane (the naval base where Trident submarines are based).

     
  15.  
    2112:
    Audience
     
  16.  
    2112:

    Fiona Hyslop says most countries which are Nato members do not have nuclear weapons.

     
  17.  
    2114:

    Fiona Hyslop says the engineering capacity of Faslane can be retained under independence. Anas Sarwar says she's changing the position.

     
  18.  
    Iain Sutherland

    tweets: Fiona Hyslop is not doing much to convince here #indyref #greenock

     
  19.  
    2116:
    Alex Massie

    Alex Massie says the idea of Labour being "Tories in red ties" is the kind of situation of which he dreams.

     
  20.  
    2117:

    The next question is from Greenock butcher shop owner Andrew McKenzie, who asks: "I walk about this town and what I see is an abundance of pawn brokers, money shops, pound shops, charity shops and food banks. Do you think this might be the reason so many are thinking of voting yes?

     
  21.  
    Tom Buchanan

    tweets: #bbcindyref - why not get answers to questions, rather than passing over them

     
  22.  
    2119:

    Anas Sarwar says independence is not the answer to tackling these issues. He says this week's big UK story has been debate about the level of the minimum wage, while in Scotland people have been obsessing about independence.

     
  23.  
    Ryan Collins

    tweets: this referendum debate is brilliant

     
  24.  
    Callum McFadden

    tweets: Anas Sanwar is a pretty good politician but he doesn't really add anything to the referendum debate. Poorly arguing for better together imo.

     
  25.  
    2121:

    Alex Massie says that, in recent decades, the country has seen increased centralisation, with the powers of town houses stripped away. He says people must be empowered to run their own areas to stem the decline. He says the Scottish government is guilty of this.

     
  26.  
    2123:

    Fiona Hyslop says, in her West Lothian constituency, she has more direct contact with the local senior police officer than ever.

     
  27.  
    Scott Sutherland

    tweets: #bbcindyref Alex Massie speaks sense. Post independence it will be total central belt dominance. NE Scotland is a cash cow.

     
  28.  
    2124:

    Fiona Hyslop asks why people in this country have to go to food banks when it should actually be one of the most prosperous nations.

     
  29.  
    Marian Craig

    tweets: Best suggestion I've heard during #indyref so far was talking about #devolocal rather than #devomax or #indy. Democracy works best locally.

     
  30.  
    Sophia Pangloss

    tweets: Ma take on the #bbcindyref debate? The audiences at these affairs are gettin mair well-read an better-informed aw the time.

     
  31.  
    2129:
    Sanjeev Kohli

    Sanjeev Kohli said when he was young, he imagined the future was going to be "jetpacks and robot butlers", not food banks. But he says the food bank issue is a bit of a "red herring" when it comes to the independence debate, adding that he thinks they won't be a thing of the past.

     
  32.  
    2130:

    Fiona Hyslop says the UK is seeing the dismantling of the welfare state. Anas Sarwar says that, under independence, Scotland will still have economic levers controlled by the rest of the UK.

     
  33.  
    Liam Murray

    tweets: Seems @govindajeggy is bucking the trend of the comedian / writer being the 'numpty' on political shows. Making most sense. #bbcindyref

     
  34.  
    2131:

    Joe Alison, a retired engineer, asks: "Why won't Mr Cameron debate with Alex Salmond?"

     
  35.  
    2131:

    Alex Massie says the simple answer is that it is because Mr Salmond wants to debate.

     
  36.  
    John Bywalec

    tweets: Think it should be remembered a yes vote is not a vote for SNP or Alex Salmond it is a vote for Scotland to decide its own future #indyref

     
  37.  
    2132:

    Sanjeev Kohli says Prime Minister David Cameron has "found a massive barrel of self-awareness" when it comes to taking part in a TV debate with Alex Salmond.

     
  38.  
    Jenny Kumar

    tweets: I am hypnotised by @alexmassie's turn of phrase #bbcindyref

     
  39.  
    2134:
    Anas Sarwar

    Anas Sarwar says this is not a debate about Scotland v England or David Cameron v Alex Salmond but about Scots voters in Scotland.

     
  40.  
    2135:

    Fiona Hyslop says people are expecting David Cameron to debate Alex Salmond.

     
  41.  
    2139:

    An audience member suggests David Cameron won't debate with the first minister because he's a "big feartie" (that's Scots colloquial for a big scaredy-cat).

     
  42.  
    2140:

    The next audience member question: "Will the redistribution of wealth in Scotland encourage big earners to move south to avoid tax increases?"

     
  43.  
    2140:

    Sanjeev Kohli says it's not possible to tell what the tax rates would be under independence.

     
  44.  
    Michael

    tweets: Tories making cuts is not a reason to leave the UK. A party can do that in any country, including Scotland #bbcindyref

     
  45.  
    2142:

    Fiona Hyslop says there would be uncertainty even if there was a "No" vote. She adds that, under independence, getting more people back to work (such as through a massive expansion of childcare) would increase the tax base.

     
  46.  
    Finona

    tweets: I'm very impressed with a lot of the questions and comments coming from women in the audience tonight. #indyref

     
  47.  
    2143:

    Anas Sarwar says he agrees with expanding childcare, but adds that the devolved Scottish government has the powers to bring in the policy now.

     
  48.  
    Stevie

    tweets: Why didnt Labour bring in universal childcare? #bbcindyref

     
  49.  
    2145:

    Anas Sarwar accused of not being present at Westminster to vote against UK government welfare changes. He says he was present to vote against what he calls the "bedroom tax" when it was going through the legislative process.

     
  50.  
    2148:
    Audience
     
  51.  
    2147:

    Alex Massie says the SNP has been very careful to suggest that taxes will not increase under independence. He says the fiscal facts of life are "conservative".

     
  52.  
    2148:

    Alex Massie says an independent Scotland wouldn't have much room for manoeuvre because the risk of "capital flight", i.e. rich people moving south of the border.

     
  53.  
    2149:

    Fiona Hyslop says the UK is in a trillion pounds of debt, while an independent Scotland would be in a better position because of the way it could perform financially.

     
  54.  
    2150:

    The next member of the audience to ask a question, Edyth MacDonald, wants to know: "If Scotland votes no, will we still be in the EU in 10 years?"

     
  55.  
    2150:

    Anas Sarwar says: "Yes".

     
  56.  
    2151:

    Sanjeev Kohli says: "Yes".

     
  57.  
    Patrick Hadfield

    tweets: The trouble with #bbcindyref is that, as with #indyref itself, there are no clear answers to the questions asked

     
  58.  
    2152:

    The UK government has proposed an in/out EU membership referendum 2017, which would come after the next Westminster election.

     
  59.  
    2156:

    Fiona Hyslop says it's in Scotland's interests to stay in Europe. She adds that it's not possible to know whether the UK will still be in the EU in 10 years' time.

     
  60.  
    2157:

    Alex Massie says the PM is making a hash of European policy. He says the answer to the question is "Yes".

     
  61.  
    2158:
    Robert Burns

    And finally ... quantity surveyor David Wilson asks: "If Robert Burns were alive today would he be a yes or a no voter? Please refer to a poem to support your argument."

     
  62.  
    2157:

    Sanjeev Kohli says his instinct is that Burns would vote for independence.

     
  63.  
    2158:

    Anas Sarwar says he doesn't know.

     
  64.  
    2159:

    Alex Massie responds: "Who cares?"

     
  65.  
    James Fay, Paisley

    Has it not dawned on anyone that if we vote yes then it is not a given that the SNP will rule forever? They will fragment and we will have different Scottish based options.

     
  66.  
    2200:

    Fiona Hyslop says Burns wouldn't have got a vote on the basis that "the common man" didn't get the vote. When pushed though, Scotland's culture secretary reckons he would have voted "Yes".

     
  67.  
    2201:
    Debate panel

    That's all for tonight. We'll be back with the second debate next month. Bye!

     

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