During tonight’s Question Time from Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon took questions from audience members in her home constituency of Glasgow Southside.
The issue at the forefront of the Q&A was Ed Miliband’s statement that he would not do a deal with the SNP to form a majority government.
Sturgeon said: “He is saying that he would rather see David Cameron and the Conservatives back in government than work with the SNP.”
She also said that without the support of another party, he would not get his policies through government.
The topic then changed to austerity, with one audience member asking Sturgeon to make it clear that there will be no more cuts after this election.
“I am putting forward a very simple proposition in the election,” she said. “I think it’s time to end the cuts because they ‘re damaging vulnerable people, undermining public services and causing a damage to our economy.”
One audience member accused the SNP of having a “faceless leader”, noting that she will not actually sit in the UK Parliament as a party representative.
She replied saying that she will “lead the SNP in all circumstances” and stressing that it will be “hugely beneficial” to have more SNP MPs in Westminster.
Back to the issue of a coalition, Sturgeon said that she never ruled out a confidence and supply arrangement, which would be “Scotland’s greatest influence” over a Labour minority government, although the party were unlikely to form a formal coalition.
From this, talk of another Scottish referendum arose, with one man asking whether there would be another within the next ten years, to which Sturgeon replied, “not without permission from the Scottish people” and standing firm that she was not proposing one.
“I cannot impose a referendum on Scotland against its will,” she said.
“This election is not about independence. Even if the SNP won every seat in Scotland, it won’t result in another referendum.”
She continued to stress that this election is about making Scotland’s voice heard at Westminster.
Next the Scottish First Minister was asked why there is a stark contrast between the rich and poor.
She said she plans to tackle inequality through education, health, higher wages, supporting the living wage, and an increase in minimum wage to £8.70.
She also agreed that child poverty levels in Scotland are “utterly shameful”, once again blaming it on austerity.
Sturgeon proposed that she would increase spending half a percent above inflation, which would take two to three years longer to get rid of the deficit than Conservative plans.
Although she admits this is a “slower path” it is a “price worth paying to have more to invest in the health service and tackling child poverty”.
The next question regarded the health service: “Would you extend GP services to seven days a week from 8am to 8pm?”
To this, she once again mentioned that putting an end to austerity is the only way this can be achieved.
Sturgeon defended Scotland’s health service, stating that since the SNP came into office, 10,500 more people have been employed in the sector, seeing a decrease in waiting times and more being seen within those times.
She also reinforced that the SNP “will always need to work to improve our health service”.
The issue of mental health then came up, with an audience member questioning whether these services would receive the same amount of funding as physical health services.
“We are investing more in child and adolescent mental health services, with more people working in the service,” she replied.
Sturgeon also admitted the SNP have “still got more to do”.