Scotland debate: 12 key quotes that explain what happened

Last night’s Scottish independence debate between Alex Salmond and Alastair Darling was a hotly contested battle in which both sides sought to inflict maximum damage on one another.

It is claimed that ahead of the televised debates, Salmond’s “yes” side said the arguments would be as devastating for Darling as the Battle of Bannockburn was to the English in the First War of Scottish Independence in 1314.

But after the debates, Darling’s team deployed a historical analogy of their own, saying Salmond had suffered a Waterloo style defeat.

The decisive route made by Darling was to repeatedly attack Salmond’s weak volleys on the future of Scottish currency.

Here are the key quotes from the night:

Opening remarks:

Salmond: “My case this evening is this: no one, no one will do a better job of running Scotland than the people who live and work in this country.”

Darling: “Let’s say it with confidence, let’s say it with pride, let’s say it with optimism, no thanks to the risks of independence.”

Salmond: “For more than half of my life, Scotland has been governed by parties that we didn’t elect.”

Darling: “We cannot make this decision on the basis of guesswork, fingers crossed or his [Salmond’s] blind faith.”

Economic plans:

Darling: “Keeping the currency union seems to me a bit like getting a divorce and then keeping the same joint bank account, you have to get agreement, and the other side is saying ‘no it won’t happen’. What is your plan B?”

To which Salmond replied: “We’d keep the pound because it’s Scotland’s pound too.”

Darling: “A currency union is stupidity on stilts. It only works if you have an economic union and a political union.”

Darling: “Any eight-year-old can tell you the flag of a country, the capital of a country and its currency. I presume the flag is the saltire, I assume our capital will still be Edinburgh, but you can’t tell us what currency we will have. What is an eight-year-old going to make of that?”

Driving on the right:

Salmond: “The no campaign has said that an independent Scotland would have to drive on the right. Is that true Alastair?”

To which Darling replied: “Do you know what a joke is, Alex? We tell jokes every now and again.”


Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary said: “Alex Salmond thought this debate would be his Bannockburn – it’s turning out to be his Waterloo.”

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Readers' comments (4)

  • what Salmond has n't explained is how 5 million people are going to get by without the £1300 a head subsidy they get from UK taxpayers, with a limited income, including oil, and a high proportion of public service jobs. There is simply not enough income to pay for Salmond's promises.

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  • If, and it's a big 'if', Scotland votes for independence - then I do trust and hope that the good people of England, Wales and Northern Island will have their opportunity of voting if they want Scotland to have the pound! I for one do not want Scotland to be our own Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy!! Personally, I want Scotland to stay part of the UK. But if they wont to go - then go and have your own currency.

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  • Anonymous

    How many small countries R solvent. Haven't been invaded, in modern times. Scotland has the resources the people & the will.MSM being owned by just a few owners all toe the gov line, esp if gov requests of them not 2 print.Even Darling admits they should have had an oil fund. They have squandered nearly all on London & SW.We look @ Norway w/oil fund of 450bil. The Gov & MSM R keeping quiet about the Clair field & Clyde Estuary which can't B drilled cause of subs. Both have billions of barrels of oil. Despite austerity they R still spending like there's no 2morrow. Scotland did not create the debt but still has 2 contribute 2 all their projects. Scotland had 2 contribute 2 Olympics but UK didn't contribute anything 2 Commonwealth games.Even w/out oil we have enough resources. We have an excess of energy which's exported 2 England & will soon B 100% green energy & can avoid the horrors of fracking when Indy. We have hundreds, if not 1000's of reasons 2 control our own destiny. Can't wait.

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  • Jack McLaren-Stewart

    @Graham Da Costa: Pound sterling is a freely traded currency so technically there's nothing anyone could do to stop Scotland using it if they want (look at Ecuador/Panama using the USD for an example). That being said, having no influence over the rates set by the BofE could prove disastrous. Setting up their own currency is also highly risky - especially as Salmond seems to have no contingency plan if the £ proves too restrictive.

    As a Scot I'd implore any 'yes' voters to seriously consider the reasons why they're voting that way. If it's to stick 2 fingers up to the English (as I suspect a significant number of votes may be), then consider the economic ramifications - is it still a 2 finger salute if your country is worse off than before? I don't think so...

    For anyone interested, Shroders has analysed the political & economic implications (and it doesn't look good).

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