THE Unionist case against a second referendum has been branded “ridiculous” as Holyrood candidates faced off in a televised debate.

The SNP’s Màiri McAllan took aim at Tory, Labour and LibDem opponents after it was claimed the question of independence should not even be “discussed” while the country tackles the pandemic.

The Clydesdale candidate, who has served as a special adviser to the First Minister, spoke out during this week’s episode of BBC Scotland’s Debate Night.

On the show, Labour’s Daniel Johnson was asked if it was right that the overwhelming majority of young Scots who back independence should be ignored. He said it was not the time to contemplate independence because the country is facing a “completely unparalleled” crisis as it emerges from the pandemic.

He pointed to the 2008 financial crisis, which he said “pales into insignificance compared to what we have in front of us”.

The LibDem representative, Molly Nolan, claimed it was “unconscionable” to consider independence while the country tries to recover from the pandemic.

She said: “There are real issues people are struggling with right now and I cannot see there being any reason for us to be distracted from that recovery when people’s livelihoods are on the line.”

Scottish Tory candidate Meghan Gallacher went further, claiming it was not appropriate to be “looking [at] or even discussing” another plebiscite.

She argued the independence question is “not a phone contract – we can’t renew it every couple of years”. She insisted: “We need to focus on Covid recovery and move forward as a country. We can’t keep going back to the divisions of the past.”

McAllan took aim at all three Unionist parties as she countered assertions a Yes vote would be incompatible with a successful recovery from the health crisis.

“I agree we need to be recovering from Covid … we’re not proposing to it [indyref2] now, we’ve said that it will be a post-Covid choice,” she said.

READ MORE: Mairi McAllan: A lifelong local, a lawyer and an adviser to the First Minister

The SNP candidate continued: “Meghan [Gallacher] said that now is not the time, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. This is from the same party who, with support from Labour and while the LibDems sat on their hands, took us into the hardest of hard Brexits during the second wave of a deadly virus. For that kind of hypocrisy to still be being spoken about today is ridiculous.”

McAllan, a former lawyer, then turned her attention to Johnson’s argument about the 2008 financial crash.

“Let’s not forget that after 2008 the Tories, again with the support of the LibDems, thought that 10 years of austerity and so-called welfare reforms was the way to recover our economy,” she said.

“We’ve got serious decisions to make about the country we want to be and I would rather those decisions were being made by people electing a government in Scotland and not by Boris Johnson and his cronies in Westminster.”