3 reasons Alex Salmond won last night’s Scottish independence debate

It seems Scottish first minister Alex Salmond was the winner of last night’s TV debate over Scotland’s future.

A Guardian/ICM poll of more than 500 people found 71% thought Yes campaign leader Salmond won the debate, compared with the 29% who thought his rival former chancellor and leader of the Better Together campaign Alistair Darling won. Polls haven’t yet shown whether levels of support have changed but the Yes campaign has been getting steadily more popular over time.

The latest poll by Survation at the beginning of August shows those planning to vote for independence at 39%, a 2% rise on the previous month.

So how did Salmond capture Scots’ hearts and minds last night? We take a look at three key quotes.

1. “Absolutely no one will run the affairs of Scotland better than the people of Scotland. No one cares more than the people of Scotland.”

Salmond started strong, with this particular line resonating with Scots on Twitter. For many people, removing the hand of Westminster, which lies more than 400 miles south of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, is a key part of the independence debate. Scots have complained for a long time they are not fairly represented in Westminster as many key politicians, particularly in the current government do not visit Scotland very often.

2. “We cannot be stopped from using the pound.”

The most contentious part of the wider debate about independence is currency. Salmond came back fighting with three alternatives to keeping the pound – something that had stumped him in the last debate. However, he maintained because the pound sterling was a tradable currency Scotland would be entitled to use it and received a round of applause.

3. “The No campaign, the Tory party, the Labour party, are the only people in the world who argue that the possession of substantial amounts of oil and gas are somehow a curse as opposed to an asset for a country.”

There have been huge disagreements about the level of revenues coming from the North Sea oil industry. Both sides have been accused of over or under-estimating revenues to make the case look better or worse than it really is. Darling said the Yes campaign was relying too much on predicted oil revenues; however Salmond told the audience that in previous decades anti-independence campaigners predicted the oil would run out by the year 2000, which was not the case.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Robyn - I am afraid the only way he can have won on these points is through the ignorance of people listening.
    1) Scotland is over-represented with Westminster MPs on a per capita basis
    2) Any nation can use another's currency but they will need to run a budget surplus to do so, a fact conveniently ignored. There are plenty of examples of what happens if you don't
    3) The oil income is only a bonus if you haven't already promised to spend it several times over. If your sums don't add up (and they don't if all the Yes promises are brought together) then as Mr Darling said any shortfall in oil revenue requires expenditure cuts or tax rises elsewhere.

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