Question of independence is highlighted
The prospect of a second independence referendum was high on the agenda for the Duns audience, the eight strong panel of election candidates split down the middle about independence.
Three of the four constituency candidates - Lamont, Hume and Cunning - are all firmly in the no camp, but Paul Wheelhouse had support from three of the South of Scotland list candidatesfor Scottish independence, Solidarity candidate Cherly Scott proclaiming “It was stolen from us”. The independent candidate Beverley Gauld wants to see an independent Scotland in the future but declared himself “happy with devo max for now and happy with the status quo meantime”.
For John Lamont, the constant threat of a second referendum hanging over the country is a “betrayal”.
“It was once in a generation and here we are again,” said Mr Lamont. “It a betrayal of that promise.”
“If Scotland had voted the other way, and given the price of oil, if I had sat here saying we want a second vote I would have been shouted down so why does the other side get the right to unpick the decision?”
Agreeing with Mr Lamont, Labour candidate Barrie Cunning added: “We had a vote for independence and the result has to be respected.”
Likewise Jim Hume said: “I’m for staying in the UK and Europe. I believe in a world without barriers but I’m very much for devolution, not just to Holyrood but out to the Borders. The council can’t set their own Council Tax, police decisions are taken centrally and our courts have been closed.”
For Paul Wheelhouse, independence should be a matter for the Scottish people, adding: “I passionately believe that independence is best for the future of our country. The timing will be for the people of Scotland to decide.”
A member of the audience challenged independence supporters about Scotland’s £12 billion debt, pointing out: “we would have been facing £12 billion of cuts. What do you think would have happened to the people dependent on welfare?”
Responding, Mr Wheelhouse argued that it’s reasonable to assume that Scotland would not follow the same path as the UK Government, but would follow it’s own agenda in dealing with the debt.
The Greens Sarah Beattie Smith agreed saying: “The £12 billion debt assumes that with independence nothing else would change, but if we were independent we would be able to change our economy.”
The RISE candidate, Dan Foley said: “I have a different vision to the SNP and a much more radical tax policy.” And Solidarity candidate Cheryl Scott denied Scotland had a £12 billion debt, saying: “There is no deficit, it’s a wording created deficit. London gets what London wants.”