First Minister grilled by youngsters


Nicola Sturgeon took part in a Question Time style event hosted and attended by young people

17th September 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The First Minister faced a grilling by an enthusiastic group of youngsters at a special event last week.

Nicola Sturgeon was questioned by young people from across Scotland about her government’s commitments on access for young people to mental health services, a second referendum on Brexit, and improving support for care-experienced young people.

The first ever First Minister’s Question Time, held in Glasgow, was launched as a new platform for eight to 26-year-olds’ voices to be heard, as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018.

Mental health was one of the big issues of the programme, with one young woman questioning the SNP government’s commitment to adequate support available in schools and saying she was disappointed by their record. Responding, Sturgeon reiterated one of the pledges made in the programme for government.

Quizzed on Brexit, the First Minister said that she “wouldn’t stand in the way” of a second referendum. But she added: “I think the big question for Scotland though is, if there was to be another vote on EU membership, how do we make sure that we don’t end up in the same situation again where Scotland votes one way but because the rest of the UK votes another way we effectively end up being taken in a direction against our will?”

She was also asked for her views on the new recipe for Irn Bru, telling the audience, “you can’t taste the difference”.

Asked about which celebrity reality TV programme she’d most like to appear in, the First Minister said she’d be keen to appear on Dancing on Ice, and joked that maybe she could do this while retaining her duties as head of the Scottish Government.

First Minister’s Question Time (FMQT) Next Generation was recorded in Glasgow on Wednesday 12 September, with 100 children and young people in attendance.

It was broadcast on STV’s flagship current affairs programme, Scotland Tonight, on Thursday 13 September.

Design team member Katie, aged 15 from West Lothian, who was involved in designing FMQT Next Generation said: “As a care experienced young person, I know that some work has begun to help bridge the gap but I felt more could be getting done to give us the same opportunities in the future as our peers, so I wanted the be given the chance to advocate for others like myself.”

Sturgeon, said: “Year of Young People 2018 is a firm commitment we made to strengthen young people’s voices and create new opportunities for them to directly engage with decision makers. 

“The decisions taken by government and other policy makers will have a profound impact on the lives of today’s young people and those in the future. That’s why it is vital that their voices are heard and their views listened to. The FMQT event has demonstrated how we can empower them to have their say on the issues that matter, and how as a government we can learn from them.”

Jim Sweeney, chief executive of YouthLink Scotland, said: “This inaugural First Minister’s Question Time demonstrated the true value and impact of putting young people right at the heart of political debate.

“The project gives children a powerful platform to share their experience, push for change, and lay down challenges in a way that adults would never think of. We would like to say a big thanks to Nicola Sturgeon for being involved and to our media partner STV for taking this project to the heart of their political programming.”