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Salmond vs Darling: round two – live

25 August 2014

8:22 PM

25 August 2014

8:22 PM

Welcome to tonight’s liveblog of the BBC debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow.

00:05 In this View from 22 podcast special, Isabel Hardman, Alex Massie and Fraser Nelson discuss what they made of tonight’s debate.

PS – in the podcast above, Fraser asks Alex Massie what he would choose as a headline if he were editor of a Scottish national newspaper. Here’s what the Daily Record chose:daily record edit 2

22.27 Snap verdict from Fraser:

Fraser_NelsonIt was Salmond’s night. But after a rather disappointing debate, from which neither man emerged with much credit. The first (STV) debate was a proper argument, which Alex Salmond lost. Tonight’s (BBC) debate was more of a pub brawl, which Alex Salmond won. He’s better at when it’s all noise and interruption – he suppressed this talent last time, but indulged it tonight. Darling, his head perhaps still swollen for the praise for being so effectively angry last time, was angrier still. But this time, it wasn’t particularly effective. For a time, the debate was so shouty as to be incomprehensible: had the two been carrying on like that in a pub, they’d be thrown out. Partisans of both sides will have enjoyed tonight – it was a gloves-off fight and, yes, a fight on territory that favoured Salmond more than Darling. I doubt that many undecided voters will have been won over. It will underline one point, though: that separation is a very acrimonious business. The brawling we saw tonight was a taste of what could be to come in the unlikely event of a ‘yes’ vote.

22.16 ICM’s poll has Salmond the clear winner, on 79%, with Darling on just 21%.

22.09 Snap verdict from Isabel:

Isabel_Hardman-60x84That was a much closer – and less edifying – fight. There were sections where it was impossible to discern what on earth was going on, let alone which man was right, as both shouted over one another. Salmond was the more aggressive, but Darling was hardly calm.

How had the men changed their performances from the first debate? Salmond’s was the most noticeable. Firstly, there was the strange lectern choreography, whereby the First Minister went for a little walk towards the audience whenever he wanted to sound especially sincere and serious. The trouble is that he did it in such a staged way, rather than wandering about the whole time, that it looked a bit as though he was stretching his legs, or just obeying some instructions on a sheet of paper. And this made a man trying to look sincere even less sincere.

Screenshot 2014-08-25 21.49.51Screenshot 2014-08-25 21.50.39

But he had better answers on the currency question, producing what he claimed was a ‘three plan Bs for the price of one’ alternative to a formal currency union with the rest of the UK. He also did a better job of casting this vote as an opportunity to get rid of the Tories, arguing repeatedly that Darling was in bed with the Conservatives. Darling was insufficiently quick-witted to staunch the flow of accusations on that front. But he had a good rally with Salmond on defence, hacking away effectively at his arguments on Trident.

One of the questions towards the end was about how to continue to enthuse people about politics in the way this referendum debate has. Salmond withered about the constitution before being cut off. But some of the exchanges, particularly the ‘cross-examination’ section where both men were certainly cross, were a very poor way of enthusing anyone about politics. And after the passion of the first debate, that is a shame.

22.05 Snap verdict from Hamish Macdonell:

Salmond definitely edged that one. He was the more composed – helped by the audience. Darling allowed himself to get flustered and Salmond managed to control the agenda. But Darling rallied at the end.

22.00 The debate is over. Hang about for a summary of what we’ve just seen, snap verdicts from Fraser, Hamish, Alex and Isabel, and a special podcast.

21.59 Darling’s closing statement, summarised:

Scotland will prosper by building on its strengths as part of the UK. He justifies raising currency again. An uncertainty about currency can bring a country to its knees. When we can’t be told about the currency, independence cannot be trusted. He says Salmond says you and I don’t need to know what the Plan B is. Yes we do, he says. We do not need to divide these islands into separate states in order to assert our Scottish identity, he says. We all have no option other than to say respectfully, firmly, politely, no to Scottish independence.

21.57 Salmond’s closing statement, summarised:

This is an opportunity to take the future of our country into our hands. Scotland will have opportunities and the means of taking advantage of them. He says the ‘No’ campaign has oohing, absolutely nothing positive to say about our country. A Yes vote will guarantee that we will get the country that we vote for. This referendum is not about him or the political parties or anybody. This referendum is about the future of Scotland. We only have to vote to believe in ourselves. This is our moment and our time, let’s seize it with both hands.

21.55 How do we sustain political engagement after the referendum? Salmond manages to make some terribly exciting noises about a constitution before being cut off.

We’re on closing statements now.

21.51 The men are asked about how campaigners from each side relate to each other. Darling says it has become heated, but that after the vote, Scotland will need to work together again.

Salmond disagrees about the tone of the campaign. If it’s a yes vote, he says, he will accept the obligation to have the negotiation with all the best talents as part of Scotland’s negotiating team. He adds, to a few chuckles, that he would be happy to invite Darling to join ‘team Scotland’ to help with that negotiation.

21.47 Question from the presenter: Does Darling believe the UK government hasn’t planned at all for what would happen Scotland went independent? Darling says he does believe it, and that’s because there is no mandate for that.

21.45 Darling accuses Salmond of failing to set out a coherent defence policy. And he takes Trident back to the question of Scotland’s financial security, telling Salmond that he cannot spend money he hasn’t got.

Salmond responds that ‘Trident is a burden on Scotland’. Darling argues that 15 per cent of tax revenue is not a bonus, it’s essential.

21.39 Oh, Salmond’s getting serious again. He’s walked in front of his lectern. The funniest bit is when he walks back.

He was talking about Faslane and Trident and the SNP’s plans post-independence for Faslane.

Darling stays firmly behind his lectern to say Scotland could ill afford to lose the jobs from the Clyde. He says he can understand why people feel very strongly about nuclear weapons, but towing them down to England will cost Scotland jobs while doing nothing to reduce nuclear weapons worldwide.

21.37 From Hamish Macdonell:

Darling being impaled on Salmond’s use of Unison quotes on the NHS. Salmond doing very well by exploiting differences between Labour and the Tories and then demanding answers on more devolution – when there aren’t any answers at the moment.

21.36 That cross-examination section was just dreadful. The two men shouted at one another and there was no light, just heat.

If the first televised debate had the power and passion to enthuse anyone, whether a Scottish voter or someone in the rest of the UK watching as Scotland decides, then that cross section had the power to turn people off again.

21.33 Salmond has decided that he is going to do a terrifying impression of Jeremy Paxman pretending to be a grizzly bear. He is repeatedly shouting at Darling for more details on powers that the Better Together parties will transfer to the Scottish Parliament to enable them to create more jobs.

21.31 Fraser is unimpressed by the tone of the debate:

Fraser_NelsonAlex Salmond seems intent on making sure Alistair Darling won’t win this debate by shouting so much that there is nothing resembling a debate. “If you talk over each other, no one can hear anything” pleads the presenter. To me, that sums up the whole debate. It’s just appalling.


21.29 They are now arguing about poverty, which gives Salmond an opportunity to accuse Darling of being in bed with the Tories. Darling responds by arguing that he is a Labour politician who disagrees with the current government’s welfare policy, and Salmond is ‘in bed with some people you wouldn’t be in bed with’.

21.27 From Fraser Nelson:

Fraser_NelsonTo me, Alex Salmond’s rejection of welfare reform embodies the problems of Scottish nationalism, and why it would be bad for Scotland. Alex Salmond is utterly opposed to welfare reform, and not interested in any other form of it – and, ergo, not serious about tackling the appalling poverty in Scotland. The irony is that Iain Duncan Smith’s reforms started out from his visit to Easterhouse, a deprived Glasgow housing scheme. The UK is being given a solution to a primarily Scottish problem, rather than Glasgow being somehow forced to swallow an English solution. Nowhere is welfare reform needed more than the parts of East Glasgow where life expectancy is lower than Iraq.

21.25 Now both men are talking about oil. They are both talking about oil at the same time. Both are accusing one another of nonsense. The overall effect is certainly nonsensical as it’s difficult to tell what either man is saying.

Alex Massie says:

Alex_MassieAnd now we are playing a new game: My Expert is Better Than Your Expert. My oilman is a better soothsayer than your oilman. This is not enormously edifying or illuminating but it is, again, difficult to claim that Mr Darling is winning this debate so far.

21.24 From Hamish Macdonell:

Darling is behind so far. Salmond is much better than he was the first time, he is scoring points on the NHS and the bedroom tax and the audience is helping him, particularly by cheering every point he makes and booing every time Darling raises the currency.

Darling debating reasonably well but starting to look a bit flustered and Salmond starting to get cocky as he realises he is doing well.

He started conversationally, but the old smug Alex is starting to emerge.

21.21 Salmond is right that Darling keeps returning to the currency issue. He accuses Darling of re-heating all his previous debate attack lines.

Is this a good defence from Salmond, though? By reminding us of the previous debate, he also reminds us that Darling was widely considered the victor from that debate. And by criticising the questions rather than answering them, he appears evasive again on the issue that voters really do waver over.

‘I’m going to get nowhere with Plan B, you’re not going to tell us,’ says Darling.

Screenshot 2014-08-25 20.47.48

21.20 Darling chooses to focus on the currency issue, which draws a groan from the very vocal ‘yes’ camp in the audience. It may be a politically balanced crowd, but clearly the BBC didn’t test the vocal balance of the audience, as Salmond’s lot are much noisier.

21.18 Aha. Darling does distance himself from the bedroom tax, pointing out that Labour would scrap it if it gained power in 2015 (this is important for Labour in Scotland and the decision was made partly because the SNP had made such a big thing of this particular benefit cut).

But Salmond accuses him of being ‘in bed with the Tories’ because he’s leading the Better Together campaign.

21.17 The men are now fighting over welfare. Salmond goes for the jugular when Darling fails to distance himself from the bedroom tax. It’s not clear why Darling didn’t do this, because his own party has already said it would scrap the bedroom tax.

21.16 From Alex Massie:

Alex_MassieAs expected, the debate is becoming agreeably ill-tempered and, equally predictably, is becoming a massive game of Risk. Your Risks are greater than my Risks. Au contraire, pal, it is your Risks that will lead us to Risky disaster. innocent voters could be forgiven for thinking it’s all too much and that disaster must inevitably lurk around the corner however Scotland votes. This is not actually the case.

21.15 From Hamish Macdonell: 

Darling gets smacked around by irate socialist in the audience but comes back reasonably strongly. This is an area where Salmond is making headway, the perceived threat to the NHS has obviously got people agitated and worried.

Darling then gets asked by a member of the audience: “Why are we not better together now?” To which the answer obviously is “We are”, but he fails to do that, bit of a lapse.

21.14 Salmond points out, very quickly, that he’s involved in improving the situation at Ferguson shipyard.

21.12 Why are we not better together already, asks one audience member. Darling lists examples of the ways Scotland has benefitted from being part of the UK, including defence jobs.

But he does concede that things are difficult now. It’s a tricky one as he doesn’t want to sound complacent by suggesting that everything is fine.

21.12 From Fraser Nelson:

Fraser_NelsonSalmond is on shaky ground with NHS Scotland, which has been separate since its inception since 1948 and has been run from Edinburgh since devolution in 1999. We’re supposed to believe that this would be better after independence? Holyrood has run NHS Scotland for 15 years and is entirely to thank or blame for what has happened to it since. As Darling points out, Salmond  mentioned the NHS only once in the last debate. His claim that only independence can save NHS Scotland was not in his door-stopping White Paper. So why does he come up with this now? Because his pollsters tell him that he has to.

Salmond claims Labour in Wales was “forced” to cut health spending “due to budgetary pressure”. That’s one way of putting it. Another way is that Labour is in power on Cardiff Bay and chose to make those cuts – and, frankly, Cameron should have done the same. Labour never made the unwise promise to “protect” an NHS budget that had more than doubled.

21.11 Salmond accuses Darling of being a ‘master of scaremongering’.

21.10 Darling says the best way to attain a thriving health service is to remain part of the UK. ‘We have a rising health need and I don’t want to put that at risk,’ he says. He says economists have identified a £6bn black hole, and that public services would be ‘more squeezed, more pressured and more cut’.

Salmond says the risk to the NHS comes from the cutbacks Westminster has already introduced. He returns to Wales, adding: ‘Are you the only person who doesn’t realise what’s going on in England and Wales?’

21.08 Darling is confronted by an angry audience member. It’s probably a fair bet that she hasn’t got a shrine to Alistair Darling or Better Together campaign stickers stuck all over her car. She is very cross about Darling speaking at dinners organised by private health companies.

21.07 From Hamish Macdonell:

This is the chance for Salmond to go negative when the NHS is raised and he doesn’t disappoint, raising the spectre of a threat to the NHS if Scotland votes No.

Again, he has softened his argument a bit, stressing that policy control is in the hands of the Scottish Government – but financial control is not.

It is a well prepared and delivered speech.

Darling responds gets booed by a section of the audience when he claims Salmond is indulging in a “scare campaign”.

The audience – or a section of it – is doing its best to turn the debate Salmond’s way.

21.04 As for what Salmond had to say once he’d gone on his little walk, he used Wales (which the Tories also do) as a means of arguing that freedom over the health service would improve it, as the Welsh NHS is struggling. He says a Labour administration in Wales has been forced to cut back the NHS because of budgetary pressure from Westminster.

Darling attacks ‘scare stories’ that have been circulating about privatisation of the NHS. This draws a mocking roar from Salmond’s camp, presumably because Better Together is nicknamed ‘Project Fear’.

21.02 Asked by an audience member how an independent Scotland would improve the NHS, Salmond walks round to the front of his lectern again. Clearly he wants to highlight his key issues by doing this. But it looks a bit weird. It looks a bit scripted, as he hardly wanders when he does it, like a speaker comfortable to address the audience without notes. He just looks as though his stage directions say ‘walk in front of lectern [pursued by bear]’.

21.01 From Alex Massie:

Alex_Massie“They cannot stop us using the pound” says Alex Salmond for the five thousandth time this year. And, lo, Alistair Darling agrees! See! Told you so! They’re just bluffing and bullying and blustering… Of course there is every difference – as even Salmond knows – between a formal currency union and sterlingisation. But it is good politics – if low logic – to blur the distinction.

21.00 On whether Scotland would be forced to join the euro, Salmond insists it wouldn’t, citing Sweden. Darling says it would.

20.58 From Fraser Nelson:

Fraser_NelsonAlex Salmond again threatening to start an independent Scotland by defaulting on the debt, with a careful form of words. “If the UK parties take all of the financial assets if the United KIngdom they are stick with all the financial liabilities of the United kingdom. That’s obvious”. By ‘financial assets’ he seems to mean the pound, rather than gold and foreign exchange etc. No one is saying that Scotland would not have its share of those.

20.57 From Hamish Macdonell:

Salmond is doing better on oil, helped by his supporters in the audience who have decided to applaud at every opportunity.

But he is struggling on the currency as usual. Darling on firmer ground on currency, despite Salmond moving over to the mandate argument.

20.55 The grumpiness continues. Both men are making interrupting noises as the other speaks. Darling draws a huge cheer from the ‘Yes’ cohort in the audience as he concedes ‘of course we could use the pound we could use the rouble, we could use the dollar’.

But Darling then goes onto say that Scotland’s financial services wouldn’t be able to exist and that countries like Panama cannot borrow.

Salmond calls Darling’s line the most important admission of the debate, even though Darling has not budged from his normal position.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 20.50.17

20.52 This is getting bad tempered a little quicker than round one, unsurprisingly. Both men are snapping at one another over currency union.

Salmond says the rest of the UK will not deny Scotland the financial assets of the Bank of England because the rest of the UK would get stuck with all the liabilities. No UK chancellor would do that, he says, pointing out that Scotland would make debt payments as part of a successful currency union.

Salmond is doing better on this issue this time around.

20.51 And now it’s currency union. Darling is running through the options available. Salmond is snorting with derision as Darling says ‘I want to know what Plan B is’.

‘I set out the options very clearly, three plan Bs for the price of one!’ says Salmond.

20.50 From Alex Massie:

Alex_MassieYou would expect Salmond to win a round on oil and he does. Oil might be 15% of the Scottish economy but it’s 20% of Norway’s and no one seems to worry they are so dependent upon such a volatile commodity. Moreover, every other wee country in Europe would “give their eye teeth” to be in Scotland’s oil-rich position. Ah, Darling says, but it’s still a big “gamble”. After all, when oil revenues fail to meet projections that means you’ll need to raise taxes or cut services to balance the books.

So, yes, oil is a depleting resource but there’s no way Unionists can persuade Scots that it’s a crippling problem. On the contrary, the independence movement is lubricated by black gold. It scarcely existed before oil and might not be nearly so strong if the oil had already run out. But it hasn’t.

20.46 We’re now onto oil. Darling warns that governments have been far too optimistic about oil revenue, and Scotland would have to raise taxes or cut public spending to make up a shortfall.

20.44 From Hamish Macdonell:

Those playing debate bingo get an early tick with Darling’s mention if the “arc of prosperity”.

Salmond gambles on wandering from the podium but he is doing better on the currency by taking it on before the cross examination begins.

“I am seeking the best option for Scotland”, Salmond says. This is a significant change from “It’s our pound too,” he has softened the message significantly, less aggressive, more consensual.

20.42 First question from the audience is on Scotland’s financial security. Alistair Darling argues that Scotland is better off in the wider United Kingdom, while Salmond does something odd: he walks around from behind his lectern to stand in front. Perhaps he wants to appear more personal, more trustworthy. This is one of his weakest points. He says he is ‘looking for a mandate’ to share the pound ‘in a sensible currency union’. ‘A prosperous economy keeps the pound sterling’ he says.

20.41 From Alex Massie:

Alex_MassieYou’d expect the opening statements to be strong and polished. They’ve had all week to prepare them. And they were good! Salmond stressing that “This is our time. It’s our moment. Let us do it now.” Besides, we must do it now because Scotland and the rest of the UK are on divergent paths. Not for Scotland horrors such as illegal wars, foodbanks, the bedroom tax and so on and so on.

From Alistair Darling:  “My first priority is to build a fairer and better society, his first priority is to create a separate state no matter the risks.” Can you really trust Salmond? “You might here some good lines from his tonight but remember a good line is not always a good answer.”

Nothing new to see here. But a strong opening from each man.

20.40 From Fraser Nelson:

Fraser_NelsonSalmond loses no time linking 1979 ‘no’ vote on referendum with 18 years of Conservative rule. Coded message: this is about whether you hate the Tories or not. But Salmond errs in imaging the public share his own dislike of the Tories – both got around 17% of the vote in the last general election.

Darling’s opening line is a belter:

“The basic difference between Alex Salmond is this: my first priority is to build a better and fairer society. His is to create a separate state, no matter what the cost.”

Word is that Salmond will play the social justice card tonight, and he’s got his rebuttal in first. He’s also right: obsession with the border means that the SNP has made pitifully little progress in all its time in power, as it has obsesses with this referendum.

20.39 From Hamish Macdonell:

Not much of a surprise in the opening statements.
Alistair Darling sticks to tried and tested: oil, currency and devo max.
Alex Salmond goes for 18 years of Tory rule, Margaret Thatcher and the bedroom tax – clearly going for the key Labour waverers.

You can listen to an audioboo of Alistair Darling’s opening statement here:

And you can listen to Alex Salmond’s opening remarks here:

20.37 Darling moves on to oil. ‘Are we going to place all our bets on Alex Salmond being right?’ he asks. ‘This is a decision for which there is no turning back but our children and the generations that follow’ will have to live with its consequences, he says. He then says that unless Salmond provides answers, voters will have to say ‘no thanks’ for the sake of themselves and the generations to come. You sense that the impact on generations to come will be a key theme for Darling tonight.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 20.38.59

20.36 Darling is now on his opening statement. He points out that postal voting begins tomorrow and that voters need answers. He starts with the currency, which was Salmond’s weakest point in the last debate.

20.35 Salmond says that no-one cares more about Scotland or can run it better than the people who live and work here, he says. Those who say Scotland cannot do it are wrong. ‘We can create a prosperous nation and a fairer society,’ he argues. Salmond closes: ‘This is our time, it is our moment, let us do it now.’

20.34 Salmond argues that the SNP has been improving Scotland. But there is much far too much that is controlled at Westminster. He mentions the ‘bedroom tax’, ‘illegal wars’, benefit cuts, food banks, Trident.

20.32 And we’re off. Salmond is opening.

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 20.32.23

20.25 As we wait for kick-off, it’s worth reading Alex Massie’s preview of tonight’s debate (and his dissection of the ice bucket challenge).

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • tony lewis

    We are all in it together, whats this about, saving for a rainy day? dont believe a word the no vote says, its all lies.

  • Charles Patrick O’Brien

    I watched both “debates” and I have to agree that in the first debate Alex Salmond did not raise it up,and perhaps Alistair Darling,by shouting edged it,not really convinced that ill-manners is a strong debating tactic,still the unionist press gave it their Darling.Last nights debate was a lot different but from some of the paid scribes or hacks,if preferred unionist approved must have watched a different one from me,so I watched it again,Darling again displayed his bad manners by pointing his index finger like a school teacher, raising his voice and talking over the First Ministers answers.Mr Salmond kept control,not only of himself but of the debate,and when the stuttering and stammering began we all knew it was because the lies were catching him out.I said three weeks ago on a facebook discussion,that Alex had lured him into a false sense of security and this time would dissect his fantasy about the pound and how better together was not better just now or ever,but would be in the future.Yes First Minister did what he was going to do all along show him up for being a second rate back bench M.P. of the Labour Party or Tory party I’m not sure and neither is Darling.

  • AJH1968

    anybody asked the Scots how they intend to maintain their largesse after
    devolution. The immediate result of devolution will be a smaller tax base due
    to capital flight and a possible brain drain. I think the Germans are quite
    wary of bailing out a second Greece (who could blame them given that the Scots
    have difficulty grasping the fundamental concept of gratitude). I think
    devolution would be positive for England and negative for the Scots. Inevitably
    the best and brightest will migrate down South leaving the others to sulk over
    a plate of cold gruel and indulge in vituperative on the internet

  • Peter

    Its depressing to see such a narrow view from both sides. I am English born but Scottish brought up and educated. My children are half Welsh. Most UK citizens are just that – British- and have deep and lasting roots in all regions of UK. I was aware as a child that Scottish nationality is in part folk dislike of the dominant English. The English have no such hang ups and are the most tolerant people on earth. Why are some people wanting to throw away 400 years of togetherness. If we want more regional government, lets have it but I am fed up with the Scots rabbiting on about imposed government. They have imposed Wilson, Callahan, Blair and Brown on us in Westminster without a murmur of complaint. Congratulations tolerant England. But lets stick together and stop the Bosnia-fication of UK

  • agnes macmillan

    i think its yes guys

    • P_S_W

      Hope so, then the real fun begins.

  • Christian Wright

    Not a bad debate – a bit of a rough patch during cross-examination but what else did the Spectator’s ProudScots expect given that format?

    The first debate was a meh draw. It was the Journos-for-NO and especially those like the Spectator’s Uncle Tams, Massie(1), McDonald(2) and Nelson (3) [see a proctologist about yon accent Fraser], who concocted the “Disaster for Salmond” meme. Wholly hackfactured by the marginal wordsmith empty suits of NO.

    Of course the real question is how many among the critical cohort of low-information voters were A) watching, and B) how many of those who were watching were swayed in one direction or the other?

    Guess we’ll have to wait for some real polling surveys to find out.

    It would serve everyone if the Three Amigos identified above were to spend less time carnival barking about this prize fight and actually offer some studied factual analyses.

    You think they might do that? Nah, me neither.

    1 –
    2 –
    3 –

  • Dean Jackson

    The concept of Union has always meant security from outside invasion, the original threat to Presbyterian Scotland and Anglican England being an invasion from either Catholic France or Catholic Spain. What else would bring two such diverse cultures together, the Celts of Scotland and the Anglo-Saxon Normans of England? And the threat of foreign invasion is more subtle today, even unseen, because the enemy is weak in numbers, hence the enemy’s need to conceal its identity. Who is this enemy that threatens Britain?

    The enemy is within and without, and are Marxists who’ve co-opted the political parties of the West, including the West’s leading institutions, from the media to religion. We know this to be true not only because we were warned of the enemy within by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn in 1962, but because the West’s institutions failed to warn its populations that the collapse of the USSR (and East Bloc nations) was a strategic disinformation operation, as proved by the West’s failure to not only verify the collapse, but de-Communize the Soviet Armed Forces officer corps (which was 90% Communist Party officered in late 1991), and failure to de-mobilize the six-million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Ministry of Interior and militia to control the populations in the larger Soviet cities.

    The West’s fate depended on verification of the collapse of the USSR, verification’s absence proving co-option of the West’s institutions. On the Soviet side, there could be no collapse when (1) the Soviet Armed Forces officer corps remained Communist Party dominated; and (2) six-million vigilantes continued to control the population.

    In order for Scotland to decide on Union or independence, Scots must be armed with all the information that’s necessary to make the correct decision. The co-opted media will not present the facts as laid out above.

  • Stephen Milroy

    My fear is that Scotland will vote no to independence. Then Salmond will go for devolution max which is the worst both worlds for the rest of the U.K. Personally I can’t trust Salmond because he looks like the frog off of danger mouse, but that’s just my problem…

  • Icebow

    The weak moderator tolerated too much mutual interruption, mostly initiated by Salmond. And what was that repeated coming around in front of the lectern about….

  • Carter Lee

    I am an American evenly divided between Scots and English roots and have followed this debate for quite sometime.

    If England could cut off Scotland and drag it out into the middle of the Atlantic and sink it I wouldn’t blame them and I doubt the world would shed it a single tear.

    This so-called debate pretty much confirms my view that the Scots have become a bunch of mendacious, vile and nasty brutes.

    Good riddance and don’t let the door hit you on the bum on the way out.

    • smilingvulture

      so the Scots roots on your side are vile nasty brutes?

      a bit harsh

    • English Majority

      As an American, you’ve summed the situation up perfectly, my friend.

  • English Majority

    To Scotland:

    I’m telling you now: We, the English people, want you OUT.

    • rollahardsix

      No, you, one person does. You do not speak for all. Obviously you like to think that you do, but you don’t. You are not ”we”, you are an individual. Each and every opinion poll conducted shows a clear majority of English in favour of the union – as every poll has shown a majority of Scots also in favour of the union. Opinions can and do change, and in time they might. But simply because you think something does not make it fact nor does it make it what the majority also thinks. By all means have principles – fight for them, argue for them, believe in them and try to make them a reality. If you want an independent England thats fine, go fight for it – though be aware you will make your self-proclaimed task of fighting the coming ‘islamic uprising’ that you talk about alot much, much harded with a divided island.

      • English Majority

        Scotland has no idea of the depravity, poverty, rage, hatred and misery multiculturalism and immigration brings.

        Scotland is where we were 40-50 years ago. And we can’t afford to wait for them to catch up.

        • Wessex Man

          You are showing all the traits that you accuse the Scots of.

          • English Majority

            True. I can see that now.

            But still.

      • Wessex Man

        Can you supply the details of those polls please, I would find them rather interesting>

  • Blindsideflanker

    Darling very poor, Salmond belligerent, not a pleasant debate. If that is Scottish politics they are welcome to it.

    As for the No side I was surprised they never threw Slamond’s claim , of Scotland being one of the richest country’s in the world, back in his face, for if they are so stinking rich why do they want to risk it with independence , for it seems the Union has been very beneficial for them?

    • mightymark

      I suppose because one of the burdens the No campaign bears is that it can’t be seen to be talking Scotland down – even if, just occasionally, it deserves to be!

  • RavenRandom

    It’s nice to see Salmond trying to become MacPresidente…

  • CortUK


    * but can we keep your currency, your Queen, your BBC, your NHS, your central bank, your reserves…..

  • E.Blackadder

    Is it just me, or was there a snap opinion just posted by Isabel on the debate at the top of this, which then mysteriously vanished?

  • CortUK

    Scotland, please vote yes. Keep your beloved far left socialism, and end any chance of it gaining power in the UK again in my lifetime.

    And take Gordon Brown back. You know, the Scot who nearly destroyed us all.

    • dado_trunking

      Sorry lad, you can keep your rubbish and the debt you guaranteed.
      The Scots will keep the oil.

      Howzat sound?

      • Wessex Man

        much like all that you say.

  • Baggiebod

    There WILL NOT be a currency union. I say that as an Englishman who is willing to protest on the streets to ensure it does not happen.
    Out means OUT!

    • MichtyMe

      Have you considered the consequences? without Scottish exports the rUK balance of payments will double, will it be devaluation and higher interest rates?

      • Blindsideflanker

        Balance of payments deficit is £60 billion

      • HookesLaw

        You are funnier than I thought

        • MichtyMe

          The North sea would remove 40 Billion from the balance of trade.

          • Blindsideflanker

            North sea goes from Scotland to England, with the oil border set at the 55 parallel which goes through Newcastle. Instead of the border a hundred or so miles north of that, running in NNE direction.

            So is that ‘Scottish Oil’ which includes English gas and oil. ‘Scottish oil’ that excludes English North sea oil, but includes the areas that should be English oil but currently accounted as Scottish Oil. Or ‘Scottish Oil’ that has been stripped of all English Oil?

            • Wessex Man

              lovely bit of spin you got there don’t fall over mind.

          • HookesLaw

            The SNP are careful not to talk about imports so you cannot talk about balance of payments.

          • English Majority

            How about we just go to war?

            You’ve been getting more money per person than that us for decades; you get more (undeserved) benefits; you have actual representation; and on top of that, you dare to threaten to leave us with a debt you built up as much as us, and you even dare to use our nations VITAL nuclear deterrent as a bargaining chip.

            How about we just go to war? Let’s see who comes out on top.

            • rollahardsix

              Your logic is flawed beyond belief. You talk alot about the islamic uprising that you think is coming, yet you propose to declare war on another part of Britain with an overwhelmingly indigenous population. Lets be clear, are there any groups you are nor prepared to declare war on? And you talk about ”you” refering to Alex Salmond’s – one politician – threats and conflate that with 5 million people living in Scotland (10% of whom are English). In your earlier post you said ”we” when you meant yourself. No you have confused Alex Salmond with the whole Scottish population. The ”No” vote when it happens will really, really annoy you. I can’t wait.

          • Gwangi

            Would this be the north sea oil reserves that billions of pounds of ENGLISH taxpayers money found and exploited?
            The oil is almost gone, son. What’re gonna use to heat your house then? Haggis droppings?

      • P_S_W

        Without Scottish exports, what will happen to the Scottish economy?

  • CortUK

    The irony of my comments is this: I’m desperate for Scotland to vote yes and **** off.

  • Agrippina

    Wake up Spectator, a troll Tarik Toulan, is getting all our comments moderated. Look at your article Nelson re: asylum seekers, the Isis/Saudi etc anything muslim he is messing with and somehow manipulating his upvotes.

  • Charles Gibson

    There should have been a professional independent person chosen to run this debate,it ended up as a cat fight

  • CortUK

    Rather stupid of the Speccie to have an automatic refresh on a page people are trying to post comments on…..

  • james allen

    Alec Salmond – I didn’t realise I could dislike someone so much. What a fraud.

  • CortUK

    “Sweden is in the EU and didn’t have to join the Euro!”

    Because Sweden joined before the rule was introduced. Another lie. Starting to lose count.

    • Lady Magdalene

      Actually Sweden does have to join the Euro…..except it’s found a loophole in the rules governing entry which it is exploiting in order to stay out.

      • CortUK

        A loophole closed in 1996. After it joined.

        • Lady Magdalene

          No. A loophole it is still exploiting.

          • Wessex Man

            With all dur respect my Lady, who cares, Sweden arn’t in the Euro, Scotland to be accepted into the EU would have to join the Euro, which Salmond once wanted to join as a priorty to get away from the pound which he described as ‘noose around Scotland’s neck.’

  • CortUK

    Salmond said: “The biggest revelation of the night is that we can’t be stopped from using the Pound!”

    Another lie. No-one ever said you couldn’t use the Pound. They said you can’t have a currency union without the agreement of the UK.

    • Gwangi

      Salmond is a born liar. Any country can use any currency. East European states used the DM when I was there and sometimes the dollar. BUT Scotland would not have any influence on financial policy for that RumpUK pound – the bank of England and Westminster would still rule Scotland’s pocket then.

      A specific Scottish pound (or ‘Salmond’) would devalue immediately by 20% for sure – just like the Slovak crown did whilst the Czech crown kept its value after 1993.

      But really, using someone else’s currency as an independent country? How very Third World… And unless you control your own currency there is no way you are really a proper independent country anyway.

      Also, the brad wee banknotes that Scots laughably think are real currency will be shown to be the sham promisery notes that they are, about as valid as monopoly money actually and not legal tender. Still, maybe Scots can use magic beans to save their economy when it starts collapsing eh? Or haggis droppings? Or shells? Or teeth (many Scots seem to have so many missing, I can only assume that this habit has already begun…)

      • Damaris Tighe

        Deep fried mars bars in the vaults as reserves.

  • CortUK

    Alex Salmond once again perpetuating the lie that the English park the nuclear deterrent with the Scots to protect themselves from risk, even hypothesising that the English might suddenly become anti-nuclear “if it is sent down to [us]”.

    Well, ignoring the fact it is the UK deterrent and based in the UK … he knows full well that the nuclear warheads are built and maintained smack bang in the middle of Berkshire, 30 miles from London and within blast range of 20-30 million people. And seemingly about 99.998 of English people don’t seem at all bothered.

    • dado_trunking

      When is a nuclear deterrent ‘independent’ and when is it just a multi-billion poind joke to appease housewives?

      Have you asked yourself that question, ever?

  • alabenn

    Darling was pathetic, even the commentators like Massie stated Salmond was winning,
    This from the same group who stated Clegg won, I thought he won as well, but its doubtful if this charade will change anything

  • The Wiganer

    Salmond sticking with the ‘more spending! less tax! the oil will pay for everything!’ line. At least he is consistent.

  • RavenRandom

    Is there a politician smugger than Salmond. What an unpleasant fellow.

    • james allen

      The look straight at the camera, walk round the lectern bit… reminds of Clegg. What a charlatan.

    • Gwangi

      Oh yes, and I know who he reminds me of now – that round-faced kid from Bars and Melody on Britain’s Got Talent.
      And really this is what this is all about isn’t it – the Scottish people being conned into voting for one man, who has positioned his enemy as EVIL TORY ENGLAND.
      Are the Scots really so thick they can’t see the game he is playing here?
      This is not a choice between 2 men or even 2 parties; this is a choice of 1) remaining in a stable and prosperous UK from which Scotland has benefitted disproportionately and through which it gets stability, financial heft (who rescued RBS eh?), a place on the world stage and access to many good things; or 2) Isolationism and pipe dreams, financial crisis (the IMF would be called in pretty quick if Scotland went independent with its own currency), the emigration of many businesses from a high-tax socialist one party state Scotland, alienation of all middle class Scots in the borders/highlands/cities (not the lower class SNP supporters in Glasgow),bigotry, nationalism, the politics of hate and small-mindedness, sectarianism (as in Iraq the prods and papists will fight once the union goes).

  • Charles Gibson

    Darling has run out of steam and is making a fool of himself by repeating his questions on plan B over and over again.

  • Terry Field

    It is messy – but Salmond is doing MUCH better than the almost-screaming Darling.

    • Lady Magdalene

      I beg to differ. Salmond was belligerent; continually interrupting and shouting question after question at Darling during the Q & A section.
      He comes across as an aggressive, and arrogant little man who shouts people down rather that listening and then posing a forensic follow up question.

    • CortUK

      You’d have to scream if your interrogator never let you get more than three words into your answer.

  • Charles Gibson

    Darling asked what the Yes team B plan was but couldn’t answer what would be the best currency for Scotland when asked. All he could do was rubbish all the currency plans.

    • The Wiganer

      Er, Darling has already given his answer; the existing Union is his first and only preference.

    • monty61

      That’s because all the alternatives are .. rubbish.

      • Wessex Man

        Well that’s er the Yes campaign’s problem, er!

  • Lady Magdalene

    The BBC invigilator is doing an appalling job.

    • Terry Field

      Yes – he is doing all he can to protect Darling.

      • Lady Magdalene

        No bias coming through there!
        I’d quite like to hear a debate. He’s allowed it to degenerate into a slanging match with both sides interrupting each other …. although Salmond is worse.

      • CortUK

        Insisting Salmond stop interrupting and start answering questions was not protecting Darling, it was telling him to stop interrupting and start answering questions.

        • Terry Field

          he did that to them both- quite rightly. It was a bear-pit.

          • Wessex Man

            For once I agree with you it was almost childish but that gives children a bad name.

  • Charles Gibson

    What a total dog fight the debate is turning into, no direction or control from the mediator Glen Campbell. He needs to control the debate more.

    • monty61

      Agreed. He’s let Salmond ruin it. Should have been stamped on.

  • Magnolia

    Salmond says “The NHS is the greatest public institution of Scotland”, that pretty much says it all really.
    Darling sounds like the best party leader that Labour didn’t have, sensible, caring and in touch with reality. Salmond is to the far left of him, all for holding England to ransom over Scotland’s share of our debts.
    The horrid audience is very biased sounding and makes this english person want to wash their hands of the whole place and its nasty inhabitants.

    • Charles Gibson

      As this is Scotland’s debate, why are you getting involved at all. It is a decision for the people of Scotland to make, not the English Welsh or Irish.

      • Magnolia

        Typical, telling me that the amputation of a limb of my country is nothing to do with me?
        I have a scottish surname.
        The audience is stitching this up because they are drowning out AD with sound.

        • Charles Gibson

          Perhaps he shouldn’t interrupt when others are speaking, he might then get some respect. And my name is Scottish TOO

          • The Wiganer

            Avoiding answering the main point of Magnolia’s comments. Typical cybernat response I’m afraid.

          • Magnolia

            Salmond was the belligerent one constantly talking over Darling and making noises when he was answering.
            It’s an old trick to prevent your opponent’s message from gaining traction. Salmond is clever, able and persuasive but here he just sounded like a bullying machine shoving out his anti-english message (what else would you call it when he whines about Tories?) stuck on repeat.

            • Charles Gibson

              Don’t you whine about the Tories, if not you are in the minority.

              • Wessex Man

                saw what you did there, very clever, first you say it’s no business of the English, Welsh and NI then ask Magnolia about her views on the Tories which is none of your business.

          • Alexandrovich

            What is your surname then because, although common in Scotland and the North of England, Gibson derives from Germanic through Norman French.

            • Charles Gibson

              Gibsons were Scottish Tinkers, with the most colourful tartan, The Clan Buchanan.

              • HookesLaw

                Interesting, the Buchanans came from Londonderry.

              • Gwangi

                But tartan and bagpipes were invented by the English when the aristocracy thought it all terribly twee and fashionable, as Hugh Trevor-Roper’s wonderful new book makes clear: And by the way, genetically the Scots are really no different from the English – except maybe more Viking DNA. The whole concept of a united Scots people is a myth – or as plain-speaking people call it, a lie.

            • Charles Gibson

              It is also a very old English name. shortened like so many others, from, the Son of Gib. A worker who made Gib keys for coach wheels.

      • wycombewanderer

        so you’ll be paid in Salmonds then not pounds?

      • CortUK

        Arrogant comment of the day. It is our country too.

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Then why do you want a currency union if it is none of our business or you proposing to pose one without telling us? Fatuous idiot.

        • dado_trunking

          We established countless times that you are financially illiterate. It is furthermore evident that you suffer from a severe behavioral disorder, possibly due to a lack/traumatic loss of socially acceptable levels of emotional intelligence. Thirdly, it was pointed out to you countless times – even before the White Paper listed the alternative currency options of an independent Scotland – what those options were. I did that for you then, you still spout gibberish now.

          • Wessex Man

            It an established fact that you are an empty vessel easily filled with bile and ignorant pap.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Oh look, a gibberish spouting nutter and his army of sockpuppets from Brussels.

            • dado_trunking

              Why not spend time with a thought about Ebola and Isis? That sounds like the sort of thing you’d spend the rest of your natural contemplating about.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                More gibberish from Brussels.

      • Gwangi

        Actually it is about the union so really the English and Welsh should also have a vote.
        It is as pathetic as it is predictable that the one-man party the SNP wants to make this a vote against the Tory government in Westminster. But what if the govt in Westminster were Labour now? Are the Scottish people really so thick as to make such a decision based on one government’s 5 year term in Westminster?

    • james allen

      It’s a dump. Quite frankly they can f**k off for all I care.

      • Wessex Man

        It’s not a dump at all, they are a part of the UK who wish to leave the Union, well 40% of them.

        I want them to leave the Union as well as a growing number of English people.

        Just because The Fat controller and the Cyber Nat Nutjobs seeks to turn the English into some sort of enemy there’s no need to to prove them correct.

        • james allen

          True enough….. Salmond had me riled last night.

    • edward

      I believe the gutless politicians in London will allow a currency union.

    • Gwangi

      And the NHS is fine in England and Wales (and was invented by a Welshman, like whisky). Wales has free prescriptions and hospital car parking by the way, even if England does not. Wales loses out badly in the bribe-fest of the Barnett Formula – the bribe given to Scotland for decades. Time to end that.
      I heard a bit of the debate and also think the audience was certainly not selected to be balanced. a BBC enquiry needed? Dodgy.

  • HookesLaw

    Utter patheticgarbage on the NHS from Mr Nelson. The NHS is going through 20 billion of savings. You would think he and his family never have any expectation of using the NHS or of ever being seriously ill.

  • Charles Gibson

    From Darlings comments it is obvious the UK English Govt. want to keep control of oil revenue.

    • CortUK

      The UK English Govt.? Oh bless.

      Personally I think the Shetlands should have their own referendum. They never vote SNP so why should they get nationalist governments forced on them who want to steal all their oil to pay for their pet projects in the south?

      • rollahardsix

        Shetland will not separate, it will stay with the UK in the event of a ‘yes’ vote, and they won’t be the only area that does so either.

  • High Sheriff

    Does Salmond spout one word of truth.

  • High Sheriff

    Bluster. Bluster. Bluster.

  • Matt Moore

    @Massie – the reason no one worries about oil volatility in Norway is that they don’t use it to finance current spending. All revenues go into a national wealth fund and are invested. Can anyone see the SNP doing that?

    • HookesLaw

      Norway have lots of hydro electric power as well.

      • Charles Gibson

        So does Scotland.

        • HookesLaw

          Does Scotland generate over 90% of its electricity via hydro electric? Norway generatesd 99% of its electricity from hydro.
          Scotland generates 5700gwh
          Norway generates 122 Twh
          Norway actually exports profitable hydro during the day and imports cheaper electicity overnight.

          Thanks to hydro the Norwiegians have electricity coming out of their ears.
          Scotland has nothing in common with Norway.

          Norway spends a decent amount on defence as well. Thats just another one of Samonds black holes.

          • Charles Patrick O’Brien

            Scotland’s hydro is operating between 15% and 28% and has not went above this for years something to do with keeping prices up,The way of the capitalist,take it all and when nothing is left eat grass.Black holes you have knowledge of black holes? or is your knowledge just a black hole?

    • MichtyMe

      They could possibly do that, non oil tax, per capita, in Scotland is the UK average, the oil revenues are a bonus.

  • Mark

    What happens to RBS if Scotland goes independent, and therefore what happens to pensions in England?

    • Charles Patrick O’Brien

      Private companies carry on with business as usual,its not really that difficult,too much mud has been slung about,and a lot of folk cant see how it really is.There will be no problem with pensions state or private.

      • Mark

        Ta for that