Caron Lindsay on this evening’s referendum debate

caron lindsayOver on STV, our own editor, Caron Lindsay, has been making some predictions about the Salmond/Darling debate this evening.

Alex Salmond goes into tonight’s debate as the underdog.

The Yes campaign is behind in the polls and he knows that he failed to make a convincing case for independence three weeks ago.

On the other hand:

Alistair Darling has to strike that balance of making an emotional connection with everyone watching and exposing the many flaws in Salmond’s case.

She concludes:

I’d like to see a high-quality debate, with both men listening and responding thoughtfully to each other’s points. It would be a pity if the best we saw of them during the campaign was being doused in iced water.


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  • This whole issue should have been dealt with years ago during the SNP’s first term as the government in Holyrood.

    The reason it wasn’t was because the Lib Dems were so dead against allowing the people to decide for themselves that they turned down a coalition in Scotland in order to prevent the referendum from happening. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why a supposedly liberal democratic political party would do that but I’ll be happy when the uncertainty is finally gone and this whole issue is put to bed.

    I personally want to see a no vote and I’m glad the question is being asked to settle the issue, albeit in spite of the Lib Dems.

    Why were you guys so opposed to this?

  • It might have had something to do with the deep divisions in Scottish society that a referendum would inevitably ignite.

  • Stephen Donnelly 25th Aug '14 - 10:18pm

    Down here in England we do not often come across Alex Salmond’s bullying style. I can see why he might want as much power as possible in his own hands, and what a dangerous thing that would be for Scotland.

    Very poor debate, with a partisan audience, and no doubt the BBC will be in the dock again on that one. Best tweet I saw suggested that they might go outside and settle it with a fight. Unfortunately I suspect many ordinary votes will just end up being frustrated that the issues have not been addressed.

    I hope that people will not be bullied into voting yes, I certainly do not see what advantage it offers over deco max but the big question for me is how the North of England gets some similar control over its future.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Aug '14 - 10:45pm

    I watched the debate tonight and I have some points on the currency argument:

    1. Alex Salmond is right that a currency union is best for for the rest of the UK in the event of Scottish Independence.
    2. Alex Salmond is wrong that Scotland should consider defaulting debts if they don’t get their currency union. Some of the country’s infrastructure was paid for on borrowed money so creditors would arguably have the right to start confiscating Scottish assets if Scotland stopped making the repayments.

    Take from that what you will.

  • I suspect Danny Alexander ‘s cheer leading for Darling on sky tonight will come back to haunt him.
    I thought Darling was poor, obviously rattled and even managed to lose much of the audience.

  • Alex Dingwall 25th Aug '14 - 11:52pm

    Partisan audience? The audience of 200 people selected by pollsters ComRes. They included 40% Yes supporters, 40% No and 20% undecided voters.

    Yes it was poorly moderated in parts and bit too much talking over each other but the bullying tag could apply to both. I found Darling’s constant finger pointing and shouting poor. The fact that he could not address the First Minister of Scotland as anything other than ‘him’, or ‘he’ was also fairly disrespectful.

    The Guardian ICM poll calls it Salmond – 71%, Darling – 29%. – I think that’s a fair call.

  • Charles Rothwell 26th Aug '14 - 7:16am

    “I’d like to see a high-quality debate, with both men listening and responding thoughtfully to each other’s points. ” _ Some hope. The way they were talking over each other (with the result that you could not at all understand what either was saying) were ludicrous and not worthy of a school sixth form debate. I think Salmond came over better overall, but his lead will be short-lived and that there are so many questions remaining (especially over the union with Sterling) that ‘No’ will win overall. I think the majority of Scots will simply say there are far too many uncertainties. The crucial point, though, in my view is that a “No” victory will still affect the way the UK is governed as a whole and the whole issue of “Home Rule All Round” will be back on the political agenda in a way not seen for a century. The LDs (who did not, as far as I can recall, get mentioned once in the entire debate?) need to be leading in this debate as the only Unionist party which has consistently been calling for devolution for decades.

  • Charles Rothwell 26th Aug '14 - 7:33am

    Following on from what I concluded with above and what Stephen has written, I think the North of England will now move increasingly up the agenda in terms of devolution of powers in line with the HS3 promises made in recent weeks (although I think many of us up here actually think “HS3” should be “HS2” and that, finally, getting sensible Leeds Manchester (and ultimately Liverpool Hull) rail connections (before the M.62 just clogs up for good) is much more important to the region as a whole than cutting 15 minutes off a journey from Leeds (where the present barmy HS2 proposals include building a completely new rail terminus 1/4 mile from the main station which has served the city for generations!) to London!)

  • Lyn de Swarte 26th Aug '14 - 8:02am

    With reference to the editor’s conclusion, perhaps it would need two women to debate, ‘listening and responding thoughtfully to each other…’

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 26th Aug '14 - 8:30am

    The BBC should be ashamed that it allowed a shouting match; we hoped to hear a sensible discussion, worthy of Scotland’s previously well-considered views. Instead, the BBC has made it even more difficult to wade through the quarreling and make sense of the independence arguments which should centre on producing a better Scotland.

  • The problems associated with a currency union can’t be ignored, and passed off by Salmond as mere Westminster bullying.
    One glaring risk I can see with a shared currency, is the creation of an ‘IceSave effect’ as happened with British savers in Icelandic banks in 2007. Just suppose Scotland becomes an independent country, and uses sterling? Mark Carney has no control over Scottish banks at that point. Suppose Scottish banks at some point, get into trouble and need cash? If banks/ building societies in England gave an interest of (say) 2.5%, and Scottish banks raised their interest rates to (say) 3.5%, then surely, savings cash would migrate over the border to Scotland?
    So in an indirect way, Mark Carney’s hand is forced to support the Scottish banking system, by dint of having to fill the coffers of English banks, whose cash is haemorrhaging to Scotland?

  • Salmond has an unattractive smartypants personality but I find myself envying the opportunity the Scots have. They can escape from the Westminster Government which, irrespective of the outcome of the next election will continue on the neoliberal (chicagoean pp Marquand)) agenda, rewarding the rich & demonising the poor. They could create the good society.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Aug '14 - 1:05pm

    One further point:

    I think the reason it became a shouting match was not because “it was two men” as Lyn de Swarte and others like to say, but because neither the Yes or the No teams have a strong grasp on economics so rather than coming up with powerful arguments they have to repeat mediocre ones instead.

    The idea that the central bank is there to protect the finance system encourages inefficiency in the first place and the idea that the liabilities belong entirely to the pound sterling is also false. However, if an independent Scotland didn’t get their way on a currency union then maybe they would have the right to forfeit a little bit of the debt, but not that much.

    I still support a no vote because the thinking seems to be that Scotland should run off with the oil and then expect to be allowed back in the UK. They wouldn’t be accepted back for quite a long time. If it was all about social democracy then why has climate change concerns pretty much been abandoned until Scotland runs out of oil?

  • Patrick C Smith 26th Aug '14 - 1:38pm

    As a committed supporter of the `UK Better Together Campaign’ I have observed nothing in the Alex Salmon debates that will change the overall workable constitutional framework of the British Isles, since 1707.

    However,if an expected `No Vote’ is recorded by the discerning Scottish voters and in an expected high poll of 80% turn-out , it is vitally important to hold an immediate `Scotland Convention’ on making firm a more democratic `Devo.Max’ to satisfy full blown devolution : albeit Scotland remaining an integral part of the UK.

  • jedibeeftrix 26th Aug '14 - 1:49pm

    “perhaps it would need two women to debate, ‘listening and responding thoughtfully to each other…”

    Would that have been better Lyn? Surely two women getting their knickers in a twist would bring much the same spectacle…

  • @Sesenco and that is a good reason to deny people their say in a referendum?

    If yes do win, which I don’t think they will, remember that they almost certainly would not have won 5 years ago if the Lib Dems would only have allowed a referendum then.

    The Scottish nationalist are a lot more popular in Scotland now than they were at the start of their minority government, largely due to the success they made of their minority government. The Lib Dems could have been a part of that as a lot of their policies weren’t all that different to the SNP’s. Instead they stayed out of it, had zero influence, had a coalition with the Tories and all but lost Scotland in the process. I can’t for the life of me understand those choices. The SNP are broadly a centre left social democratic bunch, not to different to the Scottish Lib Dems to be honest.

  • A very poorly managed debate that seemed to be used by the SNP to put forward their partisan view of an independent Scotland rather than to discuss the pros and cons of independence per se. Darling’s performance was weak to say the least and hardly a match for the forceful Salmond.

    What should be concerning to Scots now is the threat not to pay a fair share (8%?) of the national debt should the remaining UK decline to participate in currency union, which would spell disaster for an independent Scottish economy and invite sanctions such as being denied easy entry into the EU. Of course Scotland should get a share of Bank Of England reserves equal to the share of debt but not access to the whole of the reserves as protection for their independent economy which is what currency union would mean. I for one would not support any Government that proposed to risk our 92% of the reserves on the unpredictable decisions of an independent Scottish Government acting in their national interests not ours.

    Something else not picked up on by Darling, perhaps because of personal and party involvement, was an audience member who raised a point regarding “the illegal invasion of Iraq”. The implication being, presumably, that an independent Scotland would not have got involved. Really? The PM at the time was Edinburgh born and educated Tony Blair, the Chancellor was Scottish MP Gordon Brown, plus Derry Irvine, Charlie Falconer, John Reid, and of course Mr Darling. A Scottish led Cabinet took us into that war with the able assistance of English born of Scottish descent Alastair Campbell. Even our current PM is half Scottish. My point being that the political direction and major decisions of the UK in the last 17 years originate with people who would be automatic citizens of an independent Scotland. Scots cannot disassociate themselves from dodgy UK government decisions made by Scots.

    I can’t help thinking this referendum is the wrong way around. It was the Scottish King James VI who took over the English crown and started the whole Union. It should be England and Wales voting for independence from Scotland and the imposition of Scottish born or descent Prime Ministers and their policies. Or are Scots actually running a referendum to give us our independence whether we want it or not.

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