This is everything a leaders’ debate should be – with one of the best put-downs ever

Last month, Scotland’s four main party leaders debated each other for Glasgow University’s Politics Society. Willie Rennie, Jim Murphy, Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon spent an hour and a half discussing everything from austerity to Trident to drugs policy. They did it with loads of thoughtfulness and bags of humour. It makes me very optimistic about the tv debate between these four on Tuesday night and the subsequent one with Greens’ Patrick Harvie later in the campaign. Unfortunately, UKIP will also be taking part in that second debate and given the horrid comments by their MEP about an SNP minister, that could really sour the atmosphere.

It’s actually a very good watch and relevant to people across the whole UK. Willie Rennie was very strong on the economy, highlighting how France had tried the sort of policies that Nicola was advocating and these simply hadn’t worked.  When Nicola Sturgeon implied that her party represented Scotland, he very effectively called her out. Another highlight came when he invited Ruth Davidson to write a joint letter with him to Theresa May asking her to release the drugs policy review that Norman Baker said the Tories had blocked.

That drugs question, by the way, saw an open admission that three of the leaders had taken Cannabis.

You can watch the whole thing below:

The debate as a whole was incredibly good-natured and a credit to all the participants. Even if you don’t want to sit through the whole hour and a half, you should definitely get to around 24:30 to see a particularly funny and spontaneous put-downs that had everyone in stitches.


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  • No subtitles however so not accessible to deaf people…

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 5th Apr '15 - 3:17pm

    That’s a valid point. It’s not our video, it’s Glasgow Uni’s, but point taken.

  • SIMON BANKS 6th Apr '15 - 2:02pm

    If they debated one another then this was precisely the kind of personalised politics no-one outside wants. You debate a topic with someone. I doubt if the topic of debate was the four leaders.

    Just wanted to make a stand for meaningful English, whether English English, Scottish English or Welsh English. Since we’re never going to stop saying things like “We debated drugs policy”, we shouldn’t also be saying “I debated the Tories” unless, of course, the topic of debate was “The Tories – good or bad?”.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 7th Apr '15 - 7:49pm

    Thank you for that insight, Simon.

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