Scottish independence TV debate: When is it, where can you watch it, and what have they been saying?

Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling are going head to head tonight in a televised debate over the Scottish independence vote. Ahead of the clash, we outline the key information

Who’s taking part?

Alex Salmond, the leader of the the Scottish National Party, who is campaigning for secession from the UK, is battling it out with Alistair Darling, the leader of the Better Together campaign, and a former Chancellor under Gordon Brown. Scots will be able to tune in at 8pm on STV to watch the two-hour debate. Those in the rest of the UK will be able to stream the coverage live via the STV Player, if they register.

What’s the format?

The debate will kick off with opening statements from both politicians. They’ll then face questioning from Bernard Ponsonby, the network’s political editor, before the results of the latest Ipsos-MORI poll on voting intentions are revealed.

The two men will then be able to cross-examine one another – it is here that the real war of words will likely be exchanged. 

Finally, questions from an audience comprised of 350 voters, selected to best reflect a balance of political leanings, will be put to Salmond and Darling. Closing statements will then be offered.

What have they been saying in the build-up?

Both are busy in preparation for tonight’s event. Darling has publicised the results of a Survation Poll which puts the no campaigners six points ahead of the pro-independence supporters, while Salmond has been busy touting the success of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games.

Who is the favourite to win?

The bookies have better odds on the SNP leader, although both politicians carry favour with the electorate. A surprisingly strong performance from Salmond may hurt the no campaign though, just as Cleggmania gripped the country following the Leader’s Debates in 2010.

When is round two?

Both have agreed to a potential rematch in late August. It is likely though, that even if shared-platform TV appearances do not occur again, the fever with which both sides battle it out in anticipation of the referendum will only increase.

And when’s the big day?

Scots will go to the polls on 18 September.