Scottish Referendum: Early Polls Show Darling Defeats Salmond in First TV Debate

August 6, 2014

The first televised debate on the Scottish referendum took place last night with Scotland’s first minster Alex Salmond going head-to-head with leader of the Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling – with early poll results pointing to Darling as the winner.

The leaders of the pro-independence and Better Together campaigns fought over Scotland’s currency, their track records on financial matters and the best use of the nation’s tax revenues.

During the debate, which stretched to over an hour and a half, a combative Darling, for the Better Together campaign, accused Salmond of arguing for independence using “guesswork, fingers crossed and blind faith.”

Watched by a live studio audience of 350 Scottish voters in Glasgow, just 43 days before September’s referendum, leaders of the pro-independence and Better Together campaigns debated Scotland’s currency, its track record on financial matters and the best use of the nation’s tax revenues.

During heated exchanges between the two leaders, first minister Salmond took an early barracking from Darling and was subsequently jeered by some audience members as he dodged questions over his plans for a new Scottish currency after independence.

Salmond countered by pointing the finger at the former Labour chancellor over his role in ‘the collapse of the UK economy’ in 2008, and deemed him untrustworthy as a result.

“You were in charge of financial regulation when the banks went bust,” the first minister retorted.

Here’s what each leader declared in their closing statements:

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minster:

A crucial part of our debate this evening is I think we reached agreement that Scotland could become a successful independent country. So the focus should be on why should we become an independent country and I can think of three big reasons why we should do that.

Firstly the point I made that for more than half my life – the same experience for other Scots – we have been governed from Westminster by governments we didn’t vote for. If we’re independent we get the government we vote for at each and every election.

Secondly we know that Scotland is a wealthy nation with abundant natural resources. With independence we can turn that prosperous economy into a just society.

And finally no one will ever govern Scotland better than the people who live and work in Scotland – we’ll always make the best decisions about Scotland’s future.

So voting yes is a vote for ambition over fear. It tells the world that Scotland is an equal nation that carries itself with confidence and self-belief. This is our moment – let’s take it.

Alistair Darling, Leader of Better Together:

Too much of the debate has been characterised by guesswork, blind faith and crossed fingers.

That’s no way to decide the future of our children. I don’t want to see our children’s future gambled away. I want to have the best of both worlds – that’s the best way of ensuring we have opportunity and security, not just for our generation but for the generations to come.

I want to tear down the barriers to increasing wealth and opportunities; I want to make sure that we live in a country that is as secure as possible.

In just six weeks time we will make the biggest single decision that most of us have ever made in our lifetime and it’s important that we get it right, because if we vote to leave there is no going back.

Early poll results show Darling emerging as ‘convincing’ winner of the Scottish independence debate according to ICM Research director Martin Boon, stating that ‘56% of the 512 survey participants believed Darling was the better man on the night’.

John Baird

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