Scotland's political leaders are to go head-to-head for the final time tonight in the last live televised debate before Thursday's Holyrood election. 

The debate will feature Nicola Sturgeon (Scottish National Party), Patrick Harvie (co-leader of the Scottish Green Party), Willie Rennie (Scottish Liberal Democrats), Douglas Ross (Scottish Conservatives) and Anas Sarwar (Scottish Labour).

HeraldScotland: The last BBC debateThe last BBC debate

What time is the debate and where can I watch?

Hosted by BBC Scotland political editor Glenn Campbell, party leaders will be grilled between 7.50pm and 9pm and give their views on the key issues facing Scotland.

The programme will be on BBC One Scotland, and can also be viewed on the BBC's News Channel and iPlayer.

You can also keep up-to-date with all the latest from the debate in real time on The Herald live blog.

Why are only five leaders taking part?

The BBC says it considers a number of factors when deciding who takes part, citing previous and current electoral support.

It added that despite the fact leaders of smaller parties are not appearing in tonight's live television event, "there will be impartial and proportionate coverage of their campaigns".

In addition, BBC Scotland's The Campaign programme will feature other parties and air on BBC One Scotland and the BBC News Channel from 19:00.

What will be discussed?

With only a few days until election day, big policy announcements are unlikely, however the leaders will nonetheless be eager to win over voters in what will be their last live televised debate opportunity.

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Coronavirus and Scotland's recovery from the pandemic will certainly be a key topic of debate, as well as the constitution and plans for a second independence referendum.

Scottish Labour


Scottish Labour’s Holyrood election campaign has urged voters to back its “national recovery plan” as it seeks to become Scotland’s second-largest party once again.

New leader Anas Sarwar has attempted to pitch Labour’s message to all sides of both the constitutional and Brexit debates, and repeatedly said he wants to listen and represent the whole country, “not just the 50% who agree with me”.

During the campaign, Mr Sarwar has insisted that focusing on an independence campaign during a pandemic and its aftermath would be “reckless” and “irresponsible”.

Instead, Mr Sarwar has argued that this election should be about recovery from the pandemic’s impact rather than any mandate for another referendum.

Scottish Conservatives


The Scottish Tories are looking to upset the polls and deprive the SNP of an overall majority.

Throughout the campaign, Douglas Ross’ party has struggled make much headway, instead finding themselves in an electoral dogfight with Labour for second place, with both parties projected to lose seats in a number of recent studies.

Despite the battle the Tories have been locked in with the newly invigorated Scottish Labour Party under Anas Sarwar, Mr Ross and his candidates have focused more on the SNP, calling on pro-union voters to abandon their usual parties and back them on the regional list to deprive Nicola Sturgeon’s party of a majority.

In almost every interview and appearance Mr Ross has made, he has talked up the dangers of another independence referendum, instead insisting that the new Scottish Government – which will almost certainly be headed by the SNP – focus instead on the recovery from Covid-19.



Ms Sturgeon’s message during the campaign has been for people to give both their votes to the SNP.

It comes as the campaign has focused on the First Minister’s leadership of the country throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

But as well as offering voters “serious leadership for serious times”, the SNP is also looking further ahead to when a second vote on independence could take place.

The party’s manifesto commits them to having another vote on Scotland’s place within the UK before the end of 2023.

Scottish Liberal Democrats


The Scottish Liberal Democrats’ campaign has been focused on depriving the SNP of a majority so Holyrood can focus on a Covid recovery rather than independence.

Party leader Willie Rennie has said he believes that an SNP failure to deliver a parliamentary majority at the election should mean the party “puts aside” its plans for another referendum for at least five years to instead focus on recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The message is very similar to that of Scottish Labour, which is also calling for a focus on recovery rather than a return to “divisions” over the constitution.

But Mr Rennie has argued that “Liberal Democrat seats are the ones that will make the difference” to depriving the nationalists of a majority and suggested that his party is on course to add to the five MSPs elected in 2016.

Scottish Greens


Mr Harvie launched the Greens’ campaign with the slogan “vote like our future depends on it”, stressing their environmental credentials and saying they have a track record of pushing the Scottish Government “beyond its comfort zone”.

The pro-independence party says it wants to see a second referendum within the next session of Parliament, after the pandemic.