UK & World News

  • 26 August 2014, 21:27

Darling Under Pressure After 'Losing' Debate

Alistair Darling insists the momentum is still with the 'No' campaign despite claims by his rival that he "muffed" the arguments in Monday night's final Scottish independence TV debate.

As the first postal ballot papers were sent out ahead of the referendum on September 18, polls suggest the  'Yes' campaign leader Alex Salmond came out on top in front of the TV cameras.

A key aspect of the debate was currency - with former Chancellor Mr Darling, who is fronting the Better Together campaign, admitting no one could stop Scotland using the pound.

Mr Salmond also outlined three 'plan Bs'.

Speaking to Sky News on Tuesday, Scotland's First Minister said the 'No' campaign's "bluff had been called" over use of the pound.

"He muffed his chance," said Mr Salmond.

"We explained the currency options for Scotland - the three plan Bs, if you like.

"But we explained why the currency union between Scotland and England is what we're asking for a mandate for."

However, Mr Darling told Sky News the 'Yes' side remained "vague" on currency and had to "make up their minds".

"TV debates are important but the real debates are going on in people's homes," he said. "Increasingly, people are making up their minds and saying 'no' to the risks of independence.

"They're concerned that after three hours of prime time TV we still haven't had answers to basic questions about currency.

"The postal votes are going out and this is perhaps the biggest decision people will make in their lifetime - and he (Mr Salmond) still can't answer basic questions."

Sky's Political Editor Faisal Islam says that whether people believe Mr Salmond on currency could decide the outcome of the referendum.

"Mr Salmond views the currency debate as over and if that's right and people have heard enough, just maybe he can creep back up the vote share and reduce the 'No' lead.

"If Mr Darling is right, and currency is still impacting people on the doorstep, then surely 'No' will win."

There were also angry exchanges over North Sea oil, the NHS and welfare during the 90-minute debate, which was hosted by the BBC in front of an audience of 200 at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery.

Voters have to register to cast postal ballots by September 3, meaning some could cast their votes within days.

After the debate, a Sky News poll carried out on Twitter saw more than 2,000 retweets for a Salmond win, compared to under 500 claiming Darling had topped the debate.

A Guardian/ICM poll gave the debate to Mr Salmond with 71% of the vote.

Mr Darling was widely judged to have won the first.

A poll of polls, carried out by Sky News before the debate, put 39% in favour of Scottish independence, with 50% against and another 11% undecided.

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