Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar will face off later this evening in a televised debate on welfare and pensions in an independent Scotland. The debate is the second referendum debate to take place this year on STV’s flagship current affairs programme, Scotland Tonight, and will begin at 10:30 PM.
The first debate took place in May and saw Nicola Sturgeon debate the economics of independence with Michael Moore. John MacKay moderated the debate and fielded questions as he will do again tonight, after which the two politicians enjoyed the opportunity to “cross-examine” each other.
The Better Together campaign against independence urged its supporters over Twitter to tune in tonight “to see Anas Sarwar put the positive case for pooling and sharing resources across the UK”.
However, Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP for South Scotland, criticised the broadcaster for failing to air the debate in the Scottish Borders, which are part of the cross-border “ITV Border” broadcasting region. She said: “At such an important political juncture in Scotland’s history I do not intend to give in and accept that simply by virtue of geography, viewers on the Scottish side of the ITV Border region should be denied the same access to referendum coverage as someone who, for example, lives 20 miles away in Edinburgh.”
She says she was “assured” that ITV Border “would continue to talk to STV about programming they produce and take a view on a case-by-case basis whether to broadcast the same programme” and added: “I would be interested to know how the decision not to broadcast this particular programme was reached.”