/STV leaders debate – how we scored the five candidates to be First Minister

STV leaders debate – how we scored the five candidates to be First Minister

Coronavirus, the climate and independence dominated the second live TV debate of the Scottish Parliament election campaign last night.

Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Anas Sarwar (Labour), Douglas Ross (Scottish Conservatives), Willie Rennie (Lib Dems) and Patrick Harvie (Scottish Greens) all went head-to-head against one another in a fiery debate on STV.

It was the second time the candidates for First Minister got to quiz each other in the campaign.

Chaired by STV political editor Colin Mackay the hour-and-a-half programme saw a number of topics discussed with each candidate being cross-examined by their rivals.

So, how did we score the leaders out of 10 for their performance last night?

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour (7)

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar performed well at the debate on STV last night
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar performed well at the debate on STV last night
(Image: PA)

A strong opening line by Anas Sarwar was that there was no progress to me made by “ignoring the half of the country that disagrees with you” on the constitution.

But try as he might to reframe the debate on public services, Sturgeon hauled him back onto the independence debate and whether her predicted majority vote ought to be respected as a mandate for a referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP (7)

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon put in a solid display
Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party Nicola Sturgeon put in a solid display
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

In some ways the SNP leader had the hardest job. Carrying a priceless ming vase across a polished floor, one slip and the independence dream is shattered. For the second time Sturgeon put in a competent, careful performance, which is enough.

However, her track record of government and the weight of the last extraordinary year were on show.

Patrick Harvie, Scottish Greens (5)

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie quizzed Douglas Ross well
Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie quizzed Douglas Ross well
(Image: PA)

The planet was on fire before the covid crisis but the Green co-leader came across as being more passionate about independence than the environment. Harvie is boxed in as SNP’s helper and even with the UN climate change conference coming down the tracks he couldn’t raise the Green game.

But he demolished Douglas Ross and spoke honestly about the end of North Sea oil even if that wins few votes.

Willie Rennie, Lib Dems (4)

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie didn't quite break through last night
Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie didn’t quite break through last night
(Image: PA)

The Lib Dem leader drew attention to his 15 years of political experience, ten of them as Lib Dem leader and so summarised his own failings.

Rennie could win a competition as the nicest MP in Scotland but he hasn’t won many elections.

If the pattern continues this might be his last election as leader.

Douglas Ross, Scottish Conservatives (3)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross failed on all fronts at the debate
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross failed on all fronts at the debate

Someone had a word with Douglas Ross and he reined in his temper for this debate. But he proved brittle under cross examination from Nicola Sturgeon who dismantled him on the consequences of Brexit, on the legal fight with the Scottish government and on the charge that he takes his orders from Boris Johnson.

Patrick Harvie finished off the pincer movement, digging up Ross about his previous comments on the traveller community, trashing his reputation and getting another apology out of the Tory leader.

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