As it happened: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott's election webchat

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The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Tavish Scott took part in the first in our series of live webchats with the party leaders contensting the 2011 Holyrood elections. The leader of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie, will be taking part in our next webchat on Monday, April 18 at 12pm. Click here to set a reminder

How will you ensure that our streets remain safe? I want police numbers to be protected.

Comment From Kevin Dixon

Tavish Scott: Cutting crime and dealing with the causes of crime are central to policing and keeping local people safe in their communities. We need to keep the number of police officers we have. So I'm worried by the other parties wanting to centralise Scotland's police forces into one national police force as chief constables explain that would mean the loss of 3,000 police officers across Scotland. That won't help the police and nor will it help local people in keeping our streets safe.

If asked, would you go into a coalition with the Tories, Labour or the SNP?

Comment From Mths

Tavish Scott: People across Scotland will decide how many MSPs any of the parties have. I will work constructively on whatever verdict the Scottish people pass. I can't envisage any coalition with the Tories but on jobs, education and local services I'm sure I can work constructively with Labour and the SNP.

What seats are you targeting and which do you hope to hold onto?

Comment From Rory Easter

Tavish Scott: We are determined to be very competitive in seats across Scotland. I want the Scottish Liberal Democrats to hold all the seats we currently represent in Parliament and to win some new ones. I believe we have an outstanding chance of victory in both Edinburgh Central here in the Capital and also in Argyll and Bute where Allison Hay is fighting a very strong campaign against a sitting government minister. we've won that type of battle before and we can do so again.

'It's been reported that the SNP's own economic advisors have told Alex Salmond Local Income Tax will not generate as much money as Council Tax. How would the Lib Dems bridge the funding gap?'

Comment From T.S.

Tavish Scott: It will be some years until a Local Income Tax could be introduced but just as there has been a funding gap with council tax so there is with pretty well any form of funding our councils. I would want to achieve by 2015 a fair way to fund our councils. While at the same time protecting families and individuals from rising household bills which they face at this difficult time. Local Income Tax is based on the ability to pay and that is therefore a fairer way to fund public services.

Do you accept that the actions of the Coalition Government in Westminster have damaged the party's popularity in Scotland?

Comment From Badger

Tavish Scott: This is a challenging election but it is a Scottish election and we have a strong Scottish manifesto on jobs, education and local services which I'm determined gets air time through these next few weeks. I also know that if you are on a really low income and you've been taken out of tax altogether by the UK government that helps you again in these financially challenging times.

My children are being put off applying to university because of the amount of debt they'll end up with. Does your party support more tuition fees?

Comment From Pauline, Aberdeen

Tavish Scott: No. We don't support the introduction of tuition fees in Scotland and voted to get rid of them in the Scottish Parliament after they were introduced by Labour. i want young people to have the opportunity of college or university education based on what's right for them and based on their ability to learn and not to pay. So we wouldn't saddle the next generation of young Scots with 16,000 more of debt which is the Tory policy.

'Do you think the leaders debates have been conducted in the right spirit?'

Comment From Rory Easter

Tavish Scott: We are in an election campaign and therefore we all spend too much time arguing our case at the same time as someone else is talking. So I plead guilty to being passionate about getting the Liberal Democrat message across because if I don't no one else is. Could we all behave better? Yes!

What would you do to help small businesses. I got two contracts last tax year and earned about 500 from both. suffice to say I hope the situation improves dramatically this year.

Comment From Guest

Tavish Scott: We would make sure that small business had access to finance that can help to create jobs and develop the potential for economic growth. We would cut regulation change government contracts to give small businesses a fair crack at winning that work and we'd also improve and reform the business rates package to help with the bottom line.

What would you do if you were chased down the road by protesters. what kind of shop would you rather hide in?

Comment From Keith

Tavish Scott: The lesson of politics is that you to stop and speak even if at times that's tough and no doubt it will happen to all of us during the course of this campaign.

There are over a million pensioners in Scotland, what are you going to do for us?

Comment From Craig Morrison

Tavish Scott: The restoration of the link between pensions and earnings helps Scottish pensioners. We will make sure pensioners on annual incomes of 10,000 or less will stop having to pay council tax at all. We think it's right to target the limited amount of public money on less well-off pensioners rather than the wealthiest.

What's your view on the AV Referendum?

Comment From John Barnett

Tavish Scott: I hope Scotland and the UK vote yes for reform that would mean a fairerr voting system for Westminster elections and I'm pleased to see that SNP and Labour politicians agree with that proposal and would encourage people to vote yes.

What do you aim to do about youth unemployment?

Comment From Nicola

Tavish Scott: Politicians can't create jobs but we can help businesses with the potential to take on more staff. we want to encourage more apprenticeships in businesses, better training and more job opportunities across Scotland We have also got to make sure that Scotland's schools are giving every young person the best possible chance of either work, a college place or going to university.

Do you think recent poll ratings, which have placed your party behind the Greens, are accurate and what can you do to improve them?

Comment From Madeleine

Tavish Scott: No. I think we are going to do fine in this election by talking about issues to matter to people in every part of Scotland. Demonstrating that we have a plan and the solutions that Scotland needs and showing that we have a long term vision for the kind of Scotland we want to build.

What are you going to do for young people in Scotland?

Comment From Hannah

Tavish Scott: I agree. I don't know who our nuclear deterrent is aimed at in the modern 21st century. That's why the Liberal Democrats in the UK government stopped the Tories from continuing Labour's mad dash to a full replacement of Trident. We should negotiate internationally to end nuclear proliferation and that must be part of foreign and defence policy for the future. that would allow money to be spend on schools and hospitals that we all need.

I don't understand why we have trident and nuclear weapons with all the costs it brings. Surely if we did not have them then we could afford to pay for everything that is important to the people of Scotland?

Comment From Keith

What football team do you support?

Comment From Hibs fan

Tavish Scott: Liverpool

What did you make of John Farquhar Munro's comments that Alex Salmond is the best man to lead Scotland?

Comment From Rab M

Tavish Scott: John Farquhar Munro was asked to compare Alex Salmond and Iain Gray four years ago he was asked the same question involving Jack McConnell and Alex Salmond. So he is expressing his view.

What do you think about the Tories plan to allow 14 year olds to go into vocational training instead of sitting Standard Grades?

Comment From Nicola

Tavish Scott: I don't think the Tory plans work because what we need to do is to make sure 14 to 16 year olds have the core educational skills they need that help with real work experience and the vocational route into work,.Clyde Blowers, British Aerospace and other companies and working with schools on Glasgow's South Side on a better approach which is about marrying core educational skills and disciplines with practical and exciting work. That I think is a far better approach than the blanked one-size fits all Tory policy.

Do you think that people who carry a knife should have to go to jail?

Comment From Pete Mackay

Tavish Scott: People convicted of knife crime do go to jail and should. No one should be carrying knives on Scotland's streets but mandatory sentencing doesn't work because re-offending continues. In other words sending someone to jail as the Tories and Labour want to do just won't stop them doing that again and again .So we should concentrate on the initiatives that work in reducing knife crime such as the Strathclyde Violent Reduction Unit which has shown how to reduce knife crime and therefore make our streets safer.

Why do you think electoral turnout is so low, and do you think it will be any better at this election?

Comment From Liz Ballantyne

Tavish Scott: People are worried about their jobs about rising costs and their futures. So it's the job of all candidates to make a positive for what we can do to help. As we set out a positive approach to Scotland's future I hope that will encourage people to vote on May 5.

Considerable expert opinion advocates a minimum price for alcohol would bring significant benefits in tackling the effect it has on crime and health. Why does your party oppose it?

Comment From Alan

Tavish Scott: There is a direct link between price and the consumption of alcohol and yes many experts believe that this would be the way forward. We would support a workable and legal approach to tackling alcohol abuse but we also believe we should use the existing licensing laws which allow prosecutions to take place where supermarkets or pubs sell drink to people who have had too much, are drunk or just shouldn't get it yet only three prosecutions have been achieved under those laws over the last four years.

Which of the other party leaders would you go for a pint with?

Comment From David Stewart, Peterhead

Tavish Scott: I'd go for a pint with all of them but probably separately. We get on fine behind the scenes but inevitably there is a bit of an edge to discussion during an election campaign. They are all interesting people in their own right but all different characters. It would be the worst episode of Come Dine With Me Ever.

Do you think devolution has worked? Do you think the media has been able to handle devolution?

Comment From Nicola

Tavish Scott: Devolution has delivered Scottish solutions to Scottish challenges and does mean that decision -making is much closer to people across Scotland. Those were two of the great wrongs of the previous pre-1999 arrangements. There's lots more to do there's lots more we need to improve and the media's reporting of politics is there job to comment on not mine.

Why does your party oppose Independence?

Comment From Guest

Tavish Scott: I don't believe splitting Scotland from the rest of the UK would create one jobs or help teaching in our schools or keep local services local. Those are the issues the country needs to concentrate on not on who would be Scotland's representative in our embassy in Washington or which fisheries protection boat would be posted to the Mediterranean . The fact that Alex Salmond hasn't mentioned independence in this campaign rather suggests that he recognises that Scots don't want it.

Does the quality of Labour front bench in Holyrood worry you? How would you be able to work with them - effectively, and for Scotland - if they won the election?

Comment From Chris

Tavish Scott: It's not the people on any front bench that concern me it is what they stand for. Labour's front bench want to centralise services creating a single police force, a national care quango and an approach to decision-making that ministers always know best. That is what worries me about Labour's approach to politics.

"It would be the worst episode of Come Dine With Me ever" I think that could be quite funny actually! :)

Comment From Hannah

How will your party get the tram finished?

Comment From Jonny

Tavish Scott: Having spent so much money on this project it's got to be finished. The mediation process must come to a successful conclusion and then whoever the Scottish Government is must work constructively to get the job done.

There doesn't seemto be much enthusiasm among voters for these elections. Do you think people have fallen out of love with the idea of a Scottish Parliament?

Comment From Manny

Tavish Scott: Scotland I believe wants it parliament to work more effectively and more constructively for them and that's what we all need to do. Drumming up excitement in politics during tough economic times is a greater challenge and I'm determined that's what we'll do.

On local income tax, you and the SNP only differ on regional v a national rate. Have you suggested a compromise to the SNP whereby they agree to local, but you agree within bands, say + or - 1p?

Comment From andy

Tavish Scott: That sounds the kind of sensible suggestion which could lead to a sensible reform. I believe that funding our local councils must include an improvement in accountability to their local electorate so that's why I want to see the local in local income tax.

If you weren't a politician, what job would you be doing?

Comment From claire bear

Tavish Scott: Before politics I was a farmer. I doubt the boys who run the farm I used to manage would take me back now! So it's a very good question which I don't have a ready answer to.

If you don't want to see police or fire service amalgamations how are you going to save money in these services but protect service delivery at the same time?

Comment From Gavin Barrie

Do you really believe that one service serving 50% of the population and seven serving the other 50% is the right model?

Comment From Guest

Tavish Scott: Yes I do believe that's the right model and I know that money can be saved by those eight forces working together on functions that they share which our Scottish Government report and the senior chief constables all say can save money.

What would it take to get you to agree to a referendum on Scotlands constitutional future?

Comment From andy

Tavish Scott: we haven't had a debate about Scotland's constitutional future in this campaign. The SNP want independence but never mention it. I'm not sure whether their manifesto will even include a referendum on a subject they never talk about. If they suddenly say that it is the only issue that matters to Scotland then we'll have to discuss that but i don't think they will.

What has happened to Federalism, Tavish? I reckon it is the best Lib Dem Scottish policy, but I'm beginning to think it's the best hidden too.

Comment From andy

Tavish Scott: Federalism does provide a coherent answer to the different constitutional needs of the UK. That's the kind of United Kingdom I want to achieve where the different nations and regions would determine the powers and responsibilities each wanted. So I hope the F word can make it into this campaign.

Tavish Scott: That's my hour up. Thanks very much for taking part in today's webchat.