JOURNALIST Lesley Riddoch called out Tory MSP Craig Hoy for seemingly zoning out on live TV on BBC Debate Night.

As The National columnist passionately spoke of the challenges that care workers face in Scotland today during the cost-of-living crisis, Hoy did not seem particularly attentive.

“This brings us back to the kind of society we are. We have the lowest welfare benefits in Europe. Are you arguing with that?”, Riddoch asked Hoy.

Seemingly startled, Hoy replied, “The lowest welfare benefits in Europe?”

To which Riddoch said: “Are you awake? I’m sorry, I was speaking – it must have been very boring”, as the audience broke out in laughter.

Desperately trying to dig himself out of a hole, Hoy repeated incredulously: “The lowest welfare benefits in Europe?”, eventually managing to shoot back: “No we don’t”, to which Riddoch replied: “Where’s lower?”

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Visibly panicked, Hoy then hurriedly shot back: “I can’t give you the figures off the top of my head! We don’t have the lowest welfare benefits.”

Hoy then spoke over Riddoch who was making a point that the UK’s low rate of sickness benefits. He interrupted to say: “You keen saying we have the lowest pensions in Europe and that’s not true.”

To which Riddoch hit back: “You’ve woken up again and misheard. I didn’t say that. The point is – and you know this – compared to other normal economies, we are scraping by. 

“We have got a low pay culture, a casualised workforce, we’ve got people who can’t get mortgages because they don’t even know if they’ll be in their home in six months' time. It wasn’t like this when I was younger!”

According to a 2021 ranking by The Compensation Experts, the UK is the third-worst country in Europe for sick pay, which is a reserved matter controlled by Westminster. Currently, it is set at £99.35 a week for up to 28 weeks. 

Later on Debate Night, Riddoch made the case for indyref2. Asked what has changed since the last referendum, she said: “Boris Johnson. Brexit. Lies. A cost-of-living crisis.”

She continued to highlight the paradox of Scots paying the highest standing charges in Britain, while producing the most renewable energy. “Our renewable producers are surcharged in connection to a grid that isn’t being invested in, because it's owned by a company based in London”, she said.

“I know that sounds like an extraordinary conspiracy theory – but it’s true! Scotland is a virtual embarrassment of riches when it comes to different kinds of energies we’ve got. 

“The only chance we’ve got to be able to really push this out and reach the green transition – to perhaps be a model to the rest of the world – is to get the investment going. What the referendum is a chance to do is to say: we can't just keep throwing good money after bad. 

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“We can keep trying to make broken structures in Britain work. We can still live with the aftermath of [Margaret] Thatcher privatising everything which should have remained in the public sector, and we know that as Scots – because the bulk of us have been voting Labour and SNP to create a social democracy for practically the past century. 

“That’s what this is about. It's a long-term vision of a different way of working, rather than having a marketised society, which is what English voters seem quite happy to do. We’re not!”

The First Minister, along with Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, fired the starting gun on the indyref2 campaign on Tuesday morning as they launched a series of new documents which make the case for an independent Scotland.

Sturgeon insisted a referendum will be held with or without a Section 30 order, while Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross vowed to boycott any “wildcat” ballot. 

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson said on Wednesday that the Government is aiming to hold the ballot in October next year.