BBC QT row: Fiona Bruce shames Blackford as she points out major flaw in SNP manifesto

BBC QT’s Fiona Bruce confronted Ian Blackford over the SNP’s pledge to deliver on a new independence referendum contained in their general election manifesto. The BBC Question Time host pointed out a recent analysis from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggested Scotland would undergo a stricter form of austerity in the event of a break up with the rest of the United Kingdom. Ms Bruce said: “Should we talk about the IFS in relation to the SNP as well, as we are banding around the issue?

“They are suggesting about your general election pledges and independent Scotland could lead to more austerity in the short-term.

“They’re not saying anything particularly complimentary about you either.”

Mr Blackford attempted to defend the SNP pledges, insisting he had the “greatest respect” for the IFS but firmly disagreed with their assessment of the manifesto.

The BBC QT presented quipped: “It always seems everyone has respect for the IFS when they are criticising other parties but not their own.”

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The dig cut short the SNP politician and sparked laughter among members of the audience.

Mr Blackford said: “If people from somewhere else want to come and live in Scotland they are very welcome because we’ve mitigated some of the worst effects of Tory austerity.

“We’ve invested to make sure we removed the bedroom tax that particularly punished the disabled, they were put in a perilous situation.

“We’ve tried to take action where we can to take off the harsh edges of universal credit.”

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He added: “We’ve taken our responsibilities and, unlike this lot, we’ve balanced our budget.”

Ms Bruce said: “You’ve got a seven percent deficit, as far as I’m aware.”

The SNP politician responded: “Scotland has balanced its budget. The deficit is a UK deficit, we don’t have responsibility for that deficit. That’s down to the UK Government.”

Ms Bruce hit back: “No, no, Scotland’s deficit is seven percent, the UK’s three percent.”

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IFS associate director David Phillips said the analysis of the manifesto showed the SNP differed from other parties because they had not devised “a plan of action for five years of governing the UK.”

Mr Phillips said the party focused their pledges on “starting the process of leaving the UK in the next year” rather than outlining long-term policies for the whole country.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has been long demanding a second independence referendum for Scotland, citing the Brexit vote as a substantial change in circumstances for the UK to justify a new vote. 

Writing in The Scotsman, the IFS associate director added some of the policies the SNP has proposed – including compensation for WASPI women – could potentially increase inequality.

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