Nicola Sturgeon took issue with the BBC presenter comparing the SNP’s plans for a minimum income guarantee to “free money”. Martin Geissler was challenging the Scottish First Minister over her party’s plans for big spending in the event of a majority boost in the Scottish elections scheduled for Thursday. The BBC Sunday Show host said: “Let’s look at some of those policies.
“Over recent weeks, we’ve been asking all the leaders about their manifestos, I’ve been going through yours again to refresh my memories.
“There’s a lot of money sloshing around in there. A billion pound on closing the attainment gap, £2.5 billion on the NHS, £1.6 billion on decarbonising people’s homes, £3.5 on affordable housing, free bikes, free meals, free laptops, free dentistry.
“Free money with the minimum income guarantee scheme.”
Ms Sturgeon could be seen nodding along with Mr Geissler’s question but she intervened on the last point of his speech.
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She said: “That’s not free money.
“A minimum income guarantee is where you assess the income people need to live on and then use our powers to try to top that up, whether that’s through social security, or childcare.
“I think the BBC should be accurate – it’s not free money.”
The BBC presenter swiftly moved on from the question, noting the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) had suggested the SNP’s plans appeared to be “too good to be true.”
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Ms Sturgeon replied: “Firstly, we should always take seriously what the IFS says but I’ve never fought an election where an organisation like the IFS haven’t said that the commitments we have made can’t be paid for.
“The SNP Government has balanced the books every single year and have paid for the commitments.”
But the main key of the SNP’s manifesto remains the issue of Scottish independence, which the party is hoping to put to the vote once again by 2023.
The First Minister insisted a new poll will not be held until the coronavirus pandemic is no longer threatening both the economy and society.
But Scottish Labour and Conservatives have been united in hitting out at the SNP “obsession” for independence.
Scottish Tories leader Douglas Ross has been urging voters now is the time to end “14 years of failure” under the SNP.
Mr Ross told Express.co.uk: “If the SNP win a majority, it will be a Government that seeks division, wants to create fights with the UK Government rather than seeking to work with them, and we can do so much better than that.
“There is an opportunity at this election, after 14 years of failure from the SNP, to seek a better alternative.
“It would be disastrous for Scotland if the SNP win an overall majority and go unchecked over the next five years in Holyrood, doing whatever they like as they seek to divide our country all over again, rather than working across parliament to protect jobs, invest in extra teachers, tackle the attainment gap, deal with Scotland’s massive drug death problem.
“Nicola Sturgeon admitted she took her eye off the ball on that and many other things, but that’s because she has been solely focused on an independence referendum.”