Wednesday night’s episode of BBC Scotland’s Debate Night gave the people of Scotland an opportunity to "question the people in power.”

Guests on the topical discussion programme included Lawyer Aamer Anwar, SNP Neil Gray, Conservative Jamie Halcro Johnson, Professor Heather McGregor and journalist Ayesha Hazarika - taking questions from a virtual audience in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

At points, debate was heated.

Here are some of the highlights from Wednesday night’s episode.



The first audience member asked whether the latest increase in Covid-19 figures indicated whether the public had had enough of “being told what to do.”

Broadcast Ayesha Harika agreed that people are becoming fatigued, but said it wasn't a deliberate attempt to flout the rules but rather "human nature".

SNP MP Neil Gray responded that the Covid advice coming from Scotland had been more cautious than the "mixed messages" that were delivered from Downing Street. 

He also said he was disappointed the four nations approach to decision making didn't last longer.

However, he added: “I’m glad that the majority of people in Scotland looked to the daily press conferences and guidance from the First Minister.”


“Care homes”

Aamer Anwar was first to answer and spoke of his mother, and father - who is currently in a care home - and said he would be "better off at home."

He called it "heartbreaking" and said Scots have a right to see their loved ones. 

For Mr Anwar, the mental health impact of care home restrictions extends beyond the residents, "but also the family members who have had enough."

Conservative MP added that the Scottish government has a responsibility to support care home residents who want to see their families. 

He said: “Many would just prefer to have a way of seeing their loved ones, even if there is a slightly increased risk.”

Mr Gray called it a "balance of risk".

And Ayesha Hazarika talked of the "tragedy" of the thousands of people who "never got to say goodbye to loved ones."


"The student situation”

The next question was proferred by a trainee nurse who asked whether the government had put the economy before student wellbeing. 

Professor Heather McGregor said universities had been working hard to give students the choice of studying on campus or virtually from home.

She said: “Every university in Scotland have really gone out of our way to make it possible for students to have a choice.”

"We've met all of these technical challenges, and I respect the students that want to come back to Scotland.

"I think a university education isn't just about what you get in the classroom. It's about the whole person, living away from home, educating yourself about how to manage your finances, how to discipline your time."

However, Aamer Anwar expressed his anger for the student situation and Jamie Halcro Johnson criticised the Scottish government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreaks in student halls of residence.

Mr Anwar said: “Universities have gambled with students’ health, what happened was entirely predictable and entirely avoidable.”

"What exactly have [university senior management] been doing for the last several months, over the course of the summer, preparing for the students coming back?"

"To cram them in like sardines, when we're in the midst of a pandemic, and we know we're on the cusp of a second wave, and to say 'we're surprised that it's spread so fast' - of course it was going to spread."

He added: "What I'm demanding of all the universities in Scotland is that they should be given a full rebate, if they are online classes and they don't have blended learning they should be allowed to return home, and on top of that they should not be penalised."


“White supremacy”

Ayesha Hazarika criticised Donald Trump for his failure to condemn white supremacist groups during the US Presidential Debate.

And Mr Gray expressed concern about having to rely on Boris Johnson's "moral compass" to handle the UK's trade negotiations post-brexit.

However, an audience member said it would be disrespectful not to want to trade with the US because of Donald Trump, as he was democratically elected.

He said: “We need to respect that he was put there by the American people.”

Prof McGregor added: "Never bet against the United States, because it's a very big economy.

"Deciding to not do trade with the United States might be a bit of an own goal."