Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling

Darling looks out of his comfort zone as Scotland’s First Minister goes on the attack

Political Correspondent

An independent Scotland’s future currency and its reliance on oil revenue dominated the second televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling.

Scotland’s First Minister opened the debate by stating that on 18 September voters could “complete the home rule journey” and “take matters into our own hands.” In response, the former Chancellor said Mr Salmond wanted to create a separate state “no matter what the cost”.

Mr Darling, who leads the pro-union Better Together campaign, immediately went on the offensive, saying Mr Salmond was asking Scotland “to trust what he says – and I can’t".

But an aggressive, re-energised Mr Salmond may have delivered the comeback he needed, and delivered it in a shouting match that was less genteel than their first television confrontation. An instant ICM-Guardian poll after the debate found 71 per cent of viewers thought Mr Salmond the victor, compared to 29 per cent for Mr Darling.

 

In a reprise of the battleground that dominated the first debate 20 days ago, Mr Salmond repeated his belief that a Westminster government would deliver a currency union with an independent Scotland. Although referring to options that included using the pound “with permission” and the euro, Mr Salmond said his priority was “seeking a mandate” for a currency union, and that if he described the detail of a Plan B “then that is what we will end with”.

The debate was critical for Mr Salmond. Before the debate a new poll put the support for independence still trailing behind – 38 per cent for Yes, 51 per cent for No.

The nationalist script for the leader of the SNP, who was perceived to have lost the first debate, was a political comeback that would energise the Yes campaign in the few weeks until 18 September. In what looked like an over-anxious effort to score points, Mr Salmond claimed the “major revelation” of the night was Mr Darling’s acknowledgement that Scotland didn’t need to ask permission to use the pound.

Better Together leader Alistair Darling, left, and First Minister Alex Salmond ahead of Monday night’s debate Better Together leader Alistair Darling, left, and First Minister Alex Salmond ahead of Monday night’s debate (PA)

Although the debate focused on oil, the NHS, and the bedroom tax, Mr Darling repeatedly attempted to return to the issue of currency.

Mr Salmond accused Mr Darling of being a “one-trick pony” and said he had answered the question before. He again asked Mr Darling: “If we win, will you support Scotland joining the union?”

But as Mr Darling repeatedly returned to an independent Scotland’s currency, Mr Salmond tried to evade the question, saying: “Even your insults are retreads from the first debate.”

The Glasgow audience in the Kelvingrove Gallery was more aggressive than the one at the first debate. Some of the questioners accused Mr Darling of forgetting his Labour roots, of forgetting the legacy of the founder of the NHS, Aneurin  Bevan.

One question about Scotland’s oil resulted in heated exchanges between the two men. Mr Salmond appeared to lose the hesitancy he showed in the first debate, and although the “risk and over-reliance” on oil was attacked by Mr Darling, there was huge applause when he said that “any country in the world would be delighted at the oil asset we have.”

Mr Darling at times looked outside his comfort zone in an aggressive debate.

The nationalists will claim that Mr Salmond won the debate convincingly. It was better than his outing 20 days ago. How much better? Scotland will know in three weeks.

What they said

Alex Salmond: “No one… will run the affairs of this country better than the people who live and work in Scotland. No one cares more about Scotland.”

“We are a rich nation, a  resourceful people. We can create a prosperous nation and a fairer society: a real vision for the people… This is our time, our moment…”

“You are getting three Plan Bs tonight. They are just like buses Alistair: you expect one and then three turn up.”

Alistair Darling: “He is asking us to take his word for it on everything, with no Plan B for anything.  Sorry, I can’t.”

 “I believe we can be better, we can be more prosperous… by being proud of what we do in Scotland, but also having the advantage of being part of the United Kingdom.”

“The point about a currency union is that both parties have to agree to it. You are taking a huge risk if you just assume it’s all going to fall into place…”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
News
Image from Montgomery County Animal Services & Adoption Center
news
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
Arts and Entertainment
Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara are seen on the set of 'Despierta America' to promote the film 'Fantastic Four'
filmMichael B Jordan and Kate Mara in latest awkward film interview
Life and Style
BMW factory
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen