The BBC has changed hosts and dropped live ‘virtual’ audience participation for its second party leaders’ election debate next week.
The station’s first leaders’ debate attracted hundreds of complaints after the first three questions chosen from the audience were critical of a second independence referendum.
Some of the 277 complainants also thought the debate’s host, BBC Scotland editor Sarah Smith, displayed political bias against the SNP. The BBC strenuously denied any allegations of bias.
It has been reported that the channel’s second leaders’ debate on May 4 – two days before the election – will be presented by BBC Scotland’s political editor Glenn Campbell. And plans to feature a live audience have been scrapped.
BBC’s Question Time last night was a Scottish election special. Although support for holding a second independence is growing the Unionist party leaders were last night showing no sign of shifting from their hard-line stance on the issue.
Unionist party leaders were last night showing no sign of shifting from their hard-line stance on indyref
Recent polls have shown most people in the UK and most members of the Labour Party believe the referendum should be held if a majority of pro-independence MSPs are elected in May. This week the STC voted to support indyref 2 in the event of that majority.
Recent opinion polls have been divided on the likelihood of the SNP winning an outright majority in the election but all agree that a majority of pro-indy MSPs will be heading for Holyrood, even if Alex Salmond’s new Alba party fail to win a single seat.
But on last night's Question Time the leaders of the mainstream pro-union parties continued to stand against public opinion.
The Tory’s Scottish leader Douglas Ross continued to argue the contradictory message that a vote for his party was the only way to stop an independence referendum even as his boss Boris Johnson argues that he will stop such a referendum taking place.
Labour’s new leader in Scotland is perhaps facing most pressure to change his anti-referendum stance. Not only have his own party members and the STUC backed the referendum if a majority votes for pro-independence so has Labour’s First Minister in Wales.
Mark Drakeford recently said that an election-winning party which included a pledge to hold an independence referendum in its manifesto 'would have ‘won the right to hold such a referendum’.
Keith Brown stated that Westminster has no authority to prevent a referendum taking place if the people of Scotland vote for it
In last night’s programme Mr Sarwar was no more supportive of indyref2 than he has been since stating that he is ‘unequivocal in terms of my position on not supporting a referendum on independence’.
The SNP was represented on the programme by depute leader Keith Brown, who stated that Westminster has no authority to prevent a referendum taking place if the people of Scotland vote for it.