Every leader rated from BBC Question Time special, as John Swinney fails independence muddle

Four political leaders faced a grilling from a live studio audience two weeks out from the general election.

Two weeks out from polling day, the four top party leaders were each grilled by a BBC Question Time Audience in York, one after another – with the politicians’ past baggage being brought up and pressure over the NHS, independence, education and Brexit.

The Scotsman takes a look at how the four leaders performed.

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Ed Davey

Ed Davey, John Swinney, Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak took part in the BBC Question Time leaders' specialEd Davey, John Swinney, Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak took part in the BBC Question Time leaders' special
Ed Davey, John Swinney, Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak took part in the BBC Question Time leaders' special

Best Moment: Came across calmly and in touch with the public. Was insistent that ending the two-child benefit cap was the “best way” to tackle child poverty, stuck to his guns on policy and had answers to his manifesto commitments and bluntly said his rivals are “not putting the money in we need” for services.

Worst Moment: Mr Davey continues to be haunted by his past. He is still being battered over the Lib Dems’ tuition fees fiasco in 2010 and is also under pressure for his involvement in the Post Office Horizon scandal. Admitted "I wish I had seen through those lies” over the Horizon scandal and acknowledged the tuition fees broken promise "was very scarring”, adding that “I’m not proud of some of the votes we did” with the Tories.

Scotsman rating: 3.5/5

John Swinney

Best moment: Stood out for warning about Brexit, unlike his rivals, stressing “the sooner we can get back in the European Union, the better”. Bluntly struck a chord with the audience over what he said was “a crisis created by austerity”, pointing the finger at the Tories and Labour for “not enough money proposed to invested to improve public services”.

Worst moment: Had the SNP’s muddled independence route laid out in detail. Refused to answer what would happen to his party’s supposed mandate for independence if the SNP fails to win a majority of seats at the election, but awkwardly suggested there was already a mandate to leave the Union regardless of how the election goes.

Scotsman rating: 3/5

Keir Starmer

Best moment: Thrived on questions on how to revive the NHS and cut waiting lists. Came across honestly in addressing an NHS nurse that it will put pressure on staff, but adamant that it was crucial to make improvements. Won favour of the audience over “self-entitlement” dig at the Tories and generally had a comfy time of it.

Worst moment: Wriggled a bit over repeated questions about his previous support for Jeremey Corbyn. Continued to say he didn’t think the election was going to be won, which wasn’t particularly convincing. Helped by the fact he’s ejected Mr Corbyn from Labour and won’t let him stand in the election for the party.

Scotsman rating: 4/5

Rishi Sunak

Best moment: Tried to cling onto a lower level of inflation he is taking credit for, pushed a message that if he’s given more time he can continue to cut your taxes”.

Worst moment: Take your pick. Had to respond to the humiliating election gambling allegations, was put on the backfoot over his predecessors’ records, a lack of trust in government, the impacts of Brexit, NHS waiting lists and skill shortages. Was clearly getting a bit tetchy, defensive and rattled by the time it was over. Ended his immigration pitch with shouts of “shame”. The PM looked pretty fed up with it all.

Scotsman rating: 1/5



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