The leaders of pro- and anti- Scottish independence campaigns have clashed in a US style television debate.
In often fiery exchanges Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond, who is pushing for a ‘Yes’ vote, failed to deliver a knockout blow. It was an unusually strident Alistair Darling, who is for keeping the union with England, that appeared to have the edge.
“Any eight-year-old can tell you the flag of a country, the capital of a country, and its currency. Now I presume the flag’s the saltire, I assume our capital will still be Edinburgh, but you can’t tell us is what currency we’ll have. What’s an eight-year-old going to make of that?” goaded Alistair Darling.
Alex Salmond replied: “Alistair, we’ll take the pound because it belongs to Scotland as much as it belongs to England. It’s our pound as well as your pound.”
The ‘Yes’ campaign says Scotland, which has its own parliament but lacks substantial tax-raising powers, would be freer, better governed and richer if it went alone.
The ‘No’ campaign argues Scotland would be unable to keep the British pound, that tens of thousands of jobs in the defence and financial sectors would be at risk, and that an independent Scotland might find it hard to rejoin the European Union.
After the debate many viewers thought both men dodged questions on key issues such as the economy – a criticism levelled at both campaigns. According to the Guardian, an ICM snap poll of more than 500 Scottish voters said Darling won the live debate with Scotland’s first minister by 56% to 44%, despite Salmond starting the debate as favourite.
With six weeks to go until the referendum on September 18, the ‘No’ to independence camp is slightly in front with 57 percent over the ‘Yes’ camp with 43 percent but there are still said to be one million voters undecided.
A second debate is to take place later this month.