BBC Scotland’s Debate Night came to the Scottish Borders last night. 

The show which gives members of the public the opportunity to put questions to the country’s decision-makers and public figures was filmed at the Tait Hall in Kelso in front of a live studio audience and hosted by Stephen Jardine.

The panel consisted of SNP MSP Jim Fairlie, Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton, Labour MSP Daniel Johnson, former strategist for Yes Scotland Stephen Noon and former footballer Pat Nevin.

The first question was whether an active faith was an aid or a hindrance and referred to Finance Minister Rachael Forbes’ bid to become leader of the SNP and First Minister and her views on equal marriage and births outside marriage.

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Mr Fairlie and Mr Nevin praised her honesty although both strongly disagreed with her opinions while Mr Noon was concerned that she did not understand the experiences of gay people in Scotland but would continue to support her bid.

Ms Hamilton said she had no view on who should become the new leader although she has a good relationship with Ms Forbes whom she considers to be a friend. She added that MSPs should reflect the views of their constituents but said that she should not have made her personal views public

Mr Johnson pointed out that personal values drive decisions and agreed that she should not have said that she would have voted against equal marriage.

The next question concerned whether the UK should send planes to help Ukraine if the USA decides to do so.

There was a unanimous agreement that the UK should stand with Ukraine and supply the planes however Mr Nevin and Mr Fairlie highlighted strategic issues which could see the war escalate.

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The third question concerned whether removing words from Roald Dhal’s books was ‘wokeness’ going too far.

Again, a consensus agreed that some words and phrases that were acceptable in the past are no longer so, and that language had moved on but in many cases it was taken too far. It was agreed that the integrity of the work was important.

The final question of the night came from a man who stayed in a village of 2-300 people which had 28 second homes that lay empty for the majority of the year. He asked whether there should be legislation to limit the number of second homes.

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Ms Hamilton pointed out that legislation exists which allows local authorities to limit short term lets.

Mr Johnson said that owners were taking dwellings out of the housing stock and agreed that they should be taxed more.

Mr Nevin agreed that there were not enough houses in the Borders and second homes pushed up house prices and Mr Fairlie said he believed that owners should be charged 200% council tax as young people were unable to get on the housing ladder.

Ms Hamilton was concerned that landlords could be squeezed out of the market which would drive up rents and Mr Noon suggested a strategy that would help young people access to affordable housing.