BBC News

Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Thursday, 24 March 2011

School Report 2011: Scottish party leaders quizzed

School Reporters across Scotland have been given the chance to question the leaders of the country's political parties on a wide variety of issues.

The pupils gathered views on university fees, the forthcoming election, wind farms, London 2012, Scotland's health record and the crime rate among other subjects.

Here is a selection of the answers they received.


Williamwood High School students visited Holyrood House to talk to Scottish Conservative Party leader Annabel Goldie.

On university fees:

Scottish Conversative Party leader Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conversative Party leader Annabel Goldie

"We need to make sure young people have the possibility of going to a Scottish university.

"We're not going to do that unless we put more money into this sector. The only way we can do this is to impose a 'graduate contribution' and ask students once they are earning to make a contribution towards the cost of their University education."

On the London 2012 Olympics:

"The Olympics is an important occasion for Scotland's sports representatives. It is wrong to say Scotland won't benefit because there's a lot of investment not just in the location of the Olympics in London."

On her party's election prospects:

"People can judge the Conservatives on what we've done in this Parliament and make their own minds up about whether our common sense policies are good or bad.

"If people are asked to judge us on our record I think they will say our policies have been good for Scotland, good for people and good for families."


Pupils from Hawick High School met up with Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party.

Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond
Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond

On wind farms:

He said: "We're a windy country and a lot of people say what happens when the wind doesn't blow - see if the wind's not blowing in the Borders, it's probably blowing in Aberdeenshire, and it's certainly blowing offshore.

"And when you group them all together wind farms provide a very reliable source of energy. Green energy is going to create 100,000 jobs in Scotland."

On the Scottish Borders railway plans:

"The Scottish Borders railway is still going ahead and in fact the contracts are being signed. I wish it was going to be a longer railway with more stations, but it's still a big railway and a big investment.

"We've created a new way of funding things - non-profit distribution. I'm sorry about Hawick (the railway will not extend that far) but it's still a good thing for the Borders and for Scotland."

On his election prospects:

"It's up to the people who will be First Minister on 6 May. I certainly hope it'll be me.

"My favourite part of the job is helping people and my least favourite part is the ministerial box."


Students from Broughton High School in Edinburgh questioned Scottish Labour Party leader Iain Gray.

On Scotland's health record:

"Scotland's health record has been very poor and you have also got terrible differences between different parts of Scotland.

Scottish Labour Party leader Iain Gray
Scottish Labour Party leader Iain Gray

"It has to be about getting folk in Scotland to smoke less, to eat more sensibly so that they're not overweight and to drink less. We drink a quarter more per person than people in England do and that's one of the things that's damaging our health.

"We have got a great health service but sometimes the way we treat ourselves could be much better and if we are really going to make a difference we are going to have to change our smoking, our drinking and our eating."

On the crime rate:

"The best way of lowering the crime rate is by doing two things. Firstly being good at detecting crime when it is committed and that means protecting the number of police in our local communities.

You also have to have an understanding among people that if they are caught and they are convicted that they will face punishment and that's why we've said that if you are convicted of carrying a knife you will go to jail.

On what it is like being party leader:

"As party leader I think you have to be quite cool-headed and quite patient because you are leading a lot of people, but I think the most important thing is you have to try to stay in touch with what is happening in the country.

"What I've tried to do more than anything is to spend as much time out of the parliament as I can actually speaking to real people doing real things having real lives, because when it comes to the election we understand the things that matter to you and those are things that we will try and make better."


Students from Sandwick Junior High School in Shetland questioned Tavish Scott, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Party.

On why he is opposed to charging students for higher education:

Tavish Scott
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott

"We have got to make sure we keep our universities competitive so that your generation, when you make the choices about going into work or going into college or going to university, can take that choice based on your ability and desire to learn not on your ability to pay.

"It's our job to make sure that free [higher education] continues... We've got some proposals about how to save money in other areas in order to invest properly in universities and support the students."

On why he disagrees with the proposal to close down the Shetland coastguard station:

"We need to keep the coastguard station in Shetland because it provides a very important service in terms of safety at sea and in terms of the connections to all our other very important services like police, fire and the ambulance services.

"I think the coastguard station is an essential part of making sure that for inshore fishermen, for the big... oil developments, for everyone else that uses the sea, who is at sea, the coastguard is vitally important and it should be here at Shetland."

On the Shetlands not having an official holiday for the Royal wedding:

"I guess for most of us we'll have to work anyways so it's a bit of an argument as to whether it's a national holiday or is it not. I suspect there will be enough on television through the course of the day so that if you want to see the highlights at night... you'll still be able to see it."


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific