Scottish election 2021: Leaders’ debate fact-checked


From Reality Check Team
BBC News

The five leaders of Scotland’s major political parties took part in their first televised debate on the 2021 Holyrood election campaign.

In front of a “virtual” audience, Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP, Douglas Ross of the Conservatives, Anas Sarwar of Labor, Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats and Lorna Slater of the Greens set out their policies and made a number of claims.

We looked at some of them.

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Nicola Sturgeon: “97% of our electricity already comes from renewable sources”

The First Minister spoke about the Scottish Government’s measures to reduce emissions.

It is true that in 2020, 97.4% of Scotland’s electricity needs came from renewable sources.

That’s an impressive increase from 24% in 2010.

It should be noted, however, that the Scottish Government’s target, set in 2011, was to achieve 100% renewable sources by 2020.

This goal was just missed.

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Douglas Ross: “You promised in three manifestos to reform the council tax – why do people still pay council tax?”

The Scottish Conservative leader accused the SNP of failing to reform the council’s tax.

Nicola Sturgeon protested that it had been frozen while the SNP was in office and is lower in Scotland.

The abolition or reform of the council tax was promised three times, but the changes were limited.

In 2007 the incoming SNP administration said the “hated council tax” would be replaced by a local income tax.

As a minority administration, it did not receive sufficient support for this, but began to freeze the tax.

When it gained a majority in 2011, it continued to freeze it and began negotiating reforms that resulted in people with bigger houses paying a little more.

After a nine-year freeze, it briefly allowed councils to raise it, and then froze it again last year and for 2021-22.

The SNP chairman argued that the council tax in Scotland is lower. For Volume D, the average Scottish bill in 2020-21 is £ 1308, Wales £ 1667 and England £ 1818.

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Anas Sarwar: “One in four children in Scotland lives in poverty. In their own constituency, almost 50% of children live in poverty.”

Scottish union leader Anas Sarwar criticized the first minister’s report on poverty.

The first part of this claim is correct. Statistics published by the Scottish Government last week estimated that 24% of children (240,000 children per year) lived in relative poverty according to housing costs in 2017-2020.

However, the claim about the constituency of the first minister is more difficult to get to the bottom of. Nicola Sturgeon is MSP for Glasgow Southside.

Scottish Labor says their number comes from Loughborough University research published in 2019. Scientists there say they are now doing research in Westminster constituencies, not Holyrood constituencies, and that their methodology has improved significantly since the 50% figure.

Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency of Holyrood is in the Westminster constituency of Glasgow South, which has child poverty rates well below 50%.


What are the elections? On May 6th, people across Scotland will vote for 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). The party which wins the most seats will form the Scottish Government. Find out more here.

What powers does the Scottish Parliament have? MSPs legislate on most aspects of everyday life in Scotland, such as health, education and transport. You are also in control of some taxes and benefits. Defense, foreign policy and immigration are decided by the British Parliament.

How do I vote? Anyone living in Scotland who is registered to vote is eligible to vote provided they are at least 16 years of age on the day of the election. You can register to vote online.

Willie Rennie: “We have 1,500 young people who have been waiting for psychological support for over a year.”

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: “We have 1,500 young people waiting for mental health assistance for over a year.”

That’s right. The latest official statistics on waiting times for Scotland’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (known as Camhs) found that 1,560 patients had waited more than 52 weeks in December.

Lorna Slater: “I am proud to be part of a candidate list that consists of 70% women.”

The female representation in Holyrood is nowhere near as high as the 50:50 activists want. Only 36% of the current chamber are women, slightly ahead of Westminster but behind the Welsh Parliament.

In the eight regions of the Scottish Parliament, women top the list of Greens in five regions. At the top of the list in the other three regions are men who are already MSPs.

Based on the list of declared candidates for the list, there appear to be more female than male candidates for the Scottish Greens. The nominations have not yet been finalized, but from today’s perspective, the party will be more than half, but maybe not 70% of its candidates.

And having a significant number of women on the lists doesn’t guarantee that more women will get into parliament. To do this, they have to sit in winning places or be at the top of a party’s regional candidate list.

In fact, half of the green candidates in 2016 were women. The party won six seats but ended up with five male MSPs and only one female representative – Alison Johnstone in Lothian.