LiveScottish independence: Salmond v Darling debate as it happened

Summary

  1. Alex Salmond & Alistair Darling went head-to-head in their second televised debate on Mon 25 Aug
  2. In fiery exchanges, they clashed on currency, but also oil revenues, the NHS & Trident
  3. The referendum on Scottish independence takes place on 18 September
  4. Voters in Scotland will be asked: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Live Reporting

By Marianne Taylor, Steven Brocklehurst, Martin Currie and Camila Ruz

Goodbye

Right, that's all from us for now. For more comment and reaction on the debate, go to BBC Radio Scotland 810 MW for Referendum Tonight, with Graham Stewart.

If you missed the debate, you can watch it by clicking on the Live Coverage tab at the top of this page.

And don't forget, you can keep up to date with all the latest news, views and analysis of the independence referendum on the Scotland Decides website.

Get involved

Text 61124

John, Dundee: Salmond lost again. He couldn't answer the key economic questions. Darling gave a true statesman-like performance! "No Thanks Alex!".

Dan, Edinburgh: The referendum question is the wrong one. Scotland is already a country, with a proud identity and free to make lots of economic and social decisions independent of Westminster. Surely we should all be asking ourselves: "Do we believe Scotland can grow richer outside the UK"?

Colin, Liverpool: After what l saw of the debate, l'd be more concerned at the quality of Scottish politicians if Salmond and Darling are the best of the bunch. Both are second rate!!

The verdict

@bbcscotlandnews

Kevin O'Donnell: Salmond heavily reliant on people not understanding difference between a currency union & sterlingisation. Alex, we aren't stupid #indyref

Riddle Like: No one in Yes says everything will be perfect: it's about embracing challenges and making it work #indyref

The verdict

@bbcscotlandnews

michael round: Watched that as independent English person - easy win for Salmond by a country mile #bbcindyref

Rupert Myers: Salmond needed a big victory. He didn't get it. He needed to have answers to the questions raised in the first debate #bbcindyref #indyref

The Observer's Toby Helm: Salmond performed better on the night but will people trust him more as a result? Reckon it is about who is more reassuring ultimately.

Limmy: Goodnight, Darling. #bbcindyref

Who won it?

A snap poll by the Guardian newspaper, in conjunction with ICM, suggests Alex Salmond won the contest against opponent Alistair Darling.

BBC

More reaction

The BBC's special correspondent Allan Little says most people are making up their minds after having serious conversations with friends and colleagues around the country, rather than relying on the views of two men in suits on TV.

BBC Scotland's Brian Taylor says that may be true, but Mr Salmond's side will have much more of a spring in their step after tonight's performance.

Yes side 'far happier'

BBC Scotland's political editor Brian Taylor says supporters of "Yes" are far happier than they were last time. They think their man won, he says.

Final thoughts from Aberdeen

Louise Sayers

BBC Scotland

In Aberdeen, "No" voter Robyn Shepherd says: "There was a little bit more substance tonight, and it was nice to see a broader discussion than we've seen before, and the NHS being mentioned."

"Yes" voter Gillian Martin says Darling made a major slip up in the debate: "In his closing statement Alistair Darling said 'whether he wins or I win'. It's not about winning for either person, neither of them are representative of either side of the debate."

Scotland 2014 - analysis

In the Scotland 2014 studio, Sarah Smith is joined by the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour MP Douglas Alexander, who has been campaigning for Better Together.

Nicola Sturgeon says she thought Alex Salmond performed very strongly. She says the No campaign has spent two years saying the debate is all about Alex Salmond - yet as soon as he wins the debate, they say it is not about personalities.

Mr Alexander says Alex Salmond tried to elicit fear about the NHS. He adds there would be more cuts if Scotland were to become independent.

Your verdict

@bbcscotlandnews

Daniel Hamilton: Super Alex Goes ballistic Darling is atrocious #goAlex #VoteYes #bbcindyref #indyref

lauren: That debate's got me decided, Alistair's closing statement got me #VoteNo #bettertogether #BBCIndyRef

Jamie Bartlett: The quality debate among actual ordinary Scots has been significantly higher than between the two campaign leaders. #bbcindyref

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Email: Talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk

Craig Alexander: I'm about to start university next week and am delighted I don't need to pay £9000 a year like English students. It's this reason that I feel I have to vote Yes - education must remain free!

Francis Sephton: We will know how 'better together' we are now when both independent Scotland and the United Kingdom find themselves poorer without each other!

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Keith Bostel: Devonport within the region of Devon & Cornwall has been identified as an alternative base for the Trident fleet. Perhaps not all but many of us here in Cornwall might hope for such a massive boost to our economy and crucially employment in the event of a "Yes" vote for Scottish independence.

Prof John Curtice's verdict

Prof Curtice says this was a better evening for Mr Salmond compared to the STV debate three weeks ago.

He says Mr Darling again stumbled over the issue of more powers for Scotland if it does not vote for independence.

However, Mr Darling did try to press home the risks of independence, Mr Curtice says.

The polling expert says we heard little about the management of the Scottish economy, an issue that is very important to voters.

We heard about the currency and about oil but little on the future shape of a Scottish economy, Mr Curtice says.

More facts and figures

Emily Craig

Political analyst, BBC News

Alex Salmond says because of Westminster welfare reforms there will be an extra 100,000 children in poverty by 2020. That number is from the Child Poverty Action Group, which in turn refers to an analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

Alex Salmond says Scotland is saddled with its share of the £100bn cost of Trident. That's a figure for the total "in-service" costs, as estimated by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. But the Ministry of Defence puts the cost at between £11bn and £14bn, according to this report from the House of Commons Library.

Scotland 2014

On BBC Scotland, the Scotland 2014 programme has post-match analysis now.

Did Alex Salmond do enough to narrow the polls and put Scotland on track for a "Yes" vote, asks Scotland 2014 presenter Sarah Smith.

Or did Alistair Darling manage to put the case for a "No" vote?

The verdict

@bbcscotlandnews

Conservative MP Christopher Pincher: Strong finish from #Alistairdarling making clear the Union is better together. Alex Salmond still won't/can't answer currency Q #indyref

David Torrance: A win, IMHO, for the FM, even if on several points it was a triumph of style over substance. Any Yessers watching shd be pleased #bbcindyref

Ewan MacAskill: Improved Salmond in second, more heated and noisy referendum debate. Doubt it changed many, if any, votes. Draw. #scotlanddecides #indyref

The view from Aberdeen

Louise Sayers

BBC Scotland

"Yes" voters Howard Kennedy and George Paterson weren't impressed with to the quality of debate from the Mr Salmond or Mr Darling.

Howard says: "I don't think the ping-ponging format is very conducive to good debate."

George says: "It's getting too much down to personalities. There's too much shouting - both sides should be getting the chance to have their say."

Your views

@bbcscotlandnews

Stewart McDonald: That, ladies and gents, is why Alex Salmond is our First Minister. First class! #bbcindyref

Duncan Hothersall: Salmond guarantees we would get the government we vote for if we vote Yes. 55% Scots didn't vote SNP but have an SNP government. #bbcindyref

Debate finished

Getty Images

And that's it - the debate is over. More analysis to come, but the main event has finished.

Closing statement - Darling

Mr Darling says "of course Scotland can go it alone" but he does not believe the country will be as successful as it would be within the United Kingdom.

"I make no apology for returning to the issue of currency," Mr Darling says, "because it is fundamental to the economy of Scotland" and Alex Salmond has no answers.

"We have no option but to say politely but firmly No thanks to independence," he ends.

Closing statement - Salmond

Alex Salmond says independence is an opportunity that might not come again.

He says it's about "taking the future of our country in to our own hands".

The No campaign has nothing positive to says about the future of Scotland, he says.

The first minister says in an independent Scotland there is one thing for certain and that is the people of Scotland will always get the government they vote for.

"This is our time, let's seize it with both hands," he ends.

Analysis - after the vote

Andrew Black

Political reporter, BBC Scotland

Even though we've not had the referendum vote, people are wondering what happens on the 19th September, given the, at times, very heated nature of the campaign. Both Mr Salmond and Mr Darling say its in the interests for both sides to come together, whatever be outcome.

Closing statements - Salmond

And on to the closing statements, as the clock runs close to the end.

Mr Salmond is first up.

BBC

Your views

@bbcscotlandnews

aileen phillip: #bbcindyref Why are the number of working age Scots falling in Scotland if it's such an attractive proposition Mr Salmond?

neilmcevoy: Astonishing that Darling offered more devolution, but can't name 1 devolved job creating power they'd give. #bbcindyref

After the referendum?

We're on to the final section of the debate: "What happens after the independence referendum?"

The question from the audience is "How will Westminster and Holyrood work together after this vote?"

Mr Darling says the campaign has got much more heated in the past few weeks. He says both sides have to accept the result and then work together to build a better Scotland.

Mr Salmond says it has been the most "extraordinary and energising" campaign in Scottish history.

The first minister says he will pledge to have the best talent in Scotland to negotiate the best deal for Scotland after a "Yes" vote. He invites Alistair Darling to join Team Scotland.

Get involved

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Sarah Baldwin: This cross examination is not working, the bickering is on an epic scale - talking over each other and can't distinguish what their points of view are.

Sandra Young: As a Scot living in England, I understand why Alex Salmond has not allowed us to vote. I believe most would vote to keep the Union.

Kenny Lambie: If Scotland does gain independence, can we in Orkney and Shetland get independence from Scotland? We would have a right to the oil as well if you believe all that Mr Salmond says.

Analysis - defence

Andrew Black

Political reporter, BBC Scotland

As expected, the issue of removing Trident nuclear weapons from their base on the Clyde under independence (a defining SNP policy) comes up.

Aside from the moral and defence case for and against keeping them, Mr Darling says Trident removal risks 8,000 jobs, while Mr Salmond says a conventional Scottish defence force would employ more people.

Defence

Mr Salmond says conventional defence forces will generate more jobs than a nuclear missile system.

BBC

Mr Darling says moving Trident could be very expensive and could take a very long time. It will also lead to a huge loss of jobs and expertise from Scotland.

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Benji from Edinburgh: Darling evasive, defensive on question time - almost lost the plot! Blown away and bumbling!

Norrie from Stevenson: What a pure rammy!! Alex Salmond was a disgrace, shouting over Alastair Darling to the point I almost switched off. We're supposed to be talking about the future of our country and the SNP cannot even guarantee our currency. What a shambles.

Salmond on Trident

There is a five-year timetable for the removal of Trident, Mr Salmond says. There would then be a 10-year period to build up Scottish defence forces.

Mr Salmond says the people of England might not want Trident towed down to them and might make a "sensible choice" not to renew the nuclear weapons.

Trident

Scotland's place in the world is the next section.

"What happens after Trident is removed from Scotland? What happens to Faslane, where it is based?" asks a member of the audience.

BBC

Mr Salmond says Faslane will be the headquarters of the Scottish defence forces. He says he is "very conscious" of his responsibility to the local community in Faslane.

Mr Darling says if Trident goes, all the other work will go too. He adds that Scotland can ill-afford to lose 8,000 jobs from the Clyde.

"Towing the nuclear warheads down the coast to England" will not mean there are any fewer nuclear weapons in the world but it will be a massive blow to the economy of the west of Scotland, he says.

Get involved

@bbcscotlandnews

Caroline Cheetham: I have learned nothing tonight. Grown men squabbling like my two children. How to put people off politics! #bbcindyref

John Mead: If Salmonds negotiation tactics is to talk over anybody that disagrees with him, Good Luck Scotland

Sandy Gavryluk: Got to say Alex is controlling this debate. Last 15 mins should be 3 x 4 mins rounds of no hold barns #bbcindyref

Live from Aberdeen

Louise Sayers

BBC Scotland

As an Aberdonian, "No" voter Robyn Shepherd is concerned about Scotland's economy being based on oil.

"I live in a city that is oil rich but this wealth isn't shared. Property in Aberdeen is so expensive, so many people are struggling and find it impossible to get on the housing ladder," she says.

Get involved

Email: Talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk

James Paterson: Nothing new in the debate, shouting back and forth, and will just alienate people about politics.

Margaret Anderson emails: It's 9.30pm and they're interrupting each other so much that it's turned into a rabble. I'm switching over!

Duncan Livingstone emails: Salmond will say anything to get applause. He promises everything to everyone and relies on Anglophobic rhetoric - he's the worst kind of nationalist

Mark Collie emails: How bad is this? I wouldn't teach my kids to argue like that never mind debate. Darling would be better playing it cool and just listen to what is being said instead of his prepared script.

Analysis - 'relentless' questioning

Brian Taylor

Political editor, Scotland

Mr Salmond's turn and he pursues AD over the issues of welfare and the NHS. He quotes Unison as discerning a threat to expenditure upon health - and repeatedly invites Mr Darling to agree with the statement. He does not.

Again, on the next topic, the FM's approach is to question Mr Darling relentlessly, asking for job creating powers under enhanced devolution. It is argument by attrition. Mr Salmond appears content that he had discomfited the former Chancellor. Mr Darling says his rival's arguments are absolute nonsense.

On and on it goes....

How much will replacing Trident cost? asks Mr Salmond. £4bn a year, Mr Salmond says. Is it a sensible use of resources when the NHS is under pressure? he asks.

And on Mr Salmond goes. He's on a roll now. "Name three job-creating powers that you will guarantee to the Scottish Parliament?".

Mr Darling says the Scottish Parliament already has many powers. He says staying part of the UK is the best way of creating jobs in the future. He says the only thing you have to offer is cutting the rate of corporation tax, that would be "great for Starbucks but no-one else".

It all got very hectic and shouty and Glenn Campbell calls a break.

Analysis - agreement?

Andrew Black

Political reporter, BBC Scotland

There are some things Mr Salmond and Mr Darling actually agree on, like doing away with controversial welfare reforms and UK spending cuts - but even these issues are a source of dispute.

Mr Darling says the solution is a Labour government at the next UK election, while Mr Salmond says the party has shown its true colours by getting "in bed" with the Tories as part of the Better Together campaign to keep the Union.

Better off?

Emily Craig

Political analyst, BBC News

Alex Salmond says an independent Scotland would have been £8bn better off. He used this figure in the first debate and it wasn't immediately clear where it was from.

The Scottish government has pointed us to an analysis suggesting an independent Scotland would have seen an extra £8.3bn over the last five years, which is the difference (in cash terms) between the Scottish and UK deficits during that period.

This scenario assumes Scotland would have kept a geographical share of North Sea oil and gas revenues.

Analysis - cross-examination

Brian Taylor

Political editor, Scotland

To cross questioning. Alistair Darling started with the currency - and a further demand for Plan B.

Mr Salmond said there were three plan Bs: a flexible currency, a currency fixed to the pound and unilateral use of the pound. The FM repeatedly noted that Mr Darling had agreed that Scotland could not be stopped from using the pound.

In this section, Mr Salmond repeatedly tried to turn it round and demand answers from Mr Darling. Would he support a sterling zone in the event of a Yes vote? The FM wanted the same comment as delivered by Jackson Carlaw of the Tories who said he would man the barricades for a sterling zone in the event of independence.

Mr Darling said alternatives to the Union involved rotten currency options.

Mr Darling's second question focused on oil. The debate was feisty - but with no common ground. Mr Darling talked of estimates below that used by the Scottish Government. Mr Salmond disputed that - and referred repeatedly to Mr Darling's tenure as Chancellor.

Get involved

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Robert Nugent: All the topics under discussion are secondary to the key question of whether an independent Scotland has sufficient tax revenue to finance all their plans and what that implies for tax rates.

Charles Campbell: Why should a voter give any credibility to the politically biased views of a politician whose party sold out to the city of London and who, having crashed the economy and having failed to supervise the banks, took ownership of HBOS and RBS (at huge expense and indebtedness to the taxpayer) without exercising control and instituting any meaningful reform?

George Taylor: This referendum should be cancelled. With only a few weeks to go, we, the electorate still don't know what we are being asked to choose. No clear answers on currency, Europe, NATO, armed forces etc. This is the first election in history when nobody knows what they're choosing.

Child poverty

Only two questions from Alistair Darling during his cross-examination. Now it is Alex Salmond's turn.

He asks "how many children are moving into poverty by the UK government's welfare reforms?"

BBC

Mr Salmond asks why Mr Darling is defending the Conservative-led government's policies.

Mr Darling says he does not support the current government's policies but he still believes the UK is the best chance of getting a fairer society.

Darling's cross-examination

Alistair Darling's cross-examination turns to oil revenues. If your oil revenues are £6bn less than expected in a single year, what would you do, asks the Better Together leader.

Mr Salmond says North Sea oil production is going up. He says you save money when you have more than you expect and spend it when you need to. He says Labour had a deficit of £150bn when Mr Darling was chancellor.

Your views

@bbcscotlandnews

Craig Livingstone: #bbcindyref Ridiculous waste of cross examination from Darling...what is he doing? How many times does he need the same answer?

Matthew Crowther: Alex Salmond can't give an answer he just shouts popular things for a cheer. He doesn't seem to have any intelligence #bbcindyref

Back and forth

The currency is the foundation of our economy, Mr Darling says. Imagine you are wrong, he says, what is your plan B?

"Even your insults are retreads from the last debate," Mr Salmond says.

The first minister asks if the people of Scotland give him the mandate to have a currency union with the rest of the UK, would Mr Darling support that?

"We cannot be stopped from using the pound," says Mr Salmond.

"So that is plan B?" asks Mr Darling.

The pound - again

Andrew Black

Political reporter, BBC Scotland

Mr Salmond says Mr Darling's comments that an independent Scotland could use the pound is the most important revelation of the debate.

Mr Darling says the point is that an independent Scotland, without a currency union, would have little economic control.

Cross examination

On to the cross-examination. Alistair Darling starts.

BBC

He wants to raise the currency again, he says. The audience groans and Mr Salmond calls him a "one-trick pony".

Voter verdict in Aberdeen

Louise Sayers

BBC Scotland

Forty minutes into the debate, "Yes" voter Gillian Martin says: "There are so many more important things than currency. It's a red herring... Salmond has already set out a plan A, B, C and D."

James Bream, undecided, has been scribbling furiously during the currency discussion.

But he admits that the debate might not actually help him decide on how to vote, saying: "My decision might be what I feel on the day."

Welfare

On welfare, Mr Salmond says the Scottish Parliament took £50m from other areas to compensate vulnerable Scots being penalised by the "bedroom tax".

Mr Darling says the so-called bedroom tax will be repealed by a future Labour government. But Alex Salmond accused Mr Darling of being "in bed with the Tories" in the Better Together campaign.

Jobs

The Better Together leader says the UK is better together. Things are difficult just now but we would be making a huge mistake to take the risk of independence, says Mr Darling.

Referring to Mr Darling's example of shipbuilding jobs which come from being part of the UK, Mr Salmond says shipbuilding employment in Scotland has gone from "tens of thousands to three of thousands". How is that better together, he asks.

Would an independent Scotland be wealthier?

Emily Craig

Political analyst, BBC News

Alex Salmond started off by repeating a claim he made in the first debate. He says an independent Scotland would be the 14th richest economy in the OECD. This is about GDP per head (that's the total amount of goods and services produced by the economy divided by the population). The current rankings of GDP per head among OECD countries puts the UK in 18th place but the Yes campaign says with a geographical share of oil Scotland would rise up the ranks.

There's more BBC analysis here.

NHS spending in Scotland

Emily Craig

Political analyst, BBC News

Alistair Darling says the NHS in Scotland has spent nearly £100m in the last couple of years on private sector providers. It's not immediately clear where this figure is from. Earlier this year the SNP's Health Secretary said the NHS had spent £28m on independent providers (0.8% of its total budget) in 2012/13. He added that this would fall to around £25m in 2013/14.

Get involved

Email: Talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk

Calum Macdonald: I don't see why Scotland would not be able to adopt its own currency; you could simply call it the Scottish Pound. If all of the Scandinavian countries are able to function with their own respective currencies, then there is no reason why Scotland can't either.

Clive Chalk: Can you please put to Mr Salmond: If he maintains that the pound is equally as much Scotland's as rest of the Union, will he not also accept that UK oil equally belongs to the rest of the Union too?

Next question

"If we are Better Together, why are we not better together already?"

The NHS

Alistair Darling says most people want to see a "strong and thriving health service". He says he is against going down a route that will see public services more squeezed than they would be by remaining part of the UK.

Mr Salmond asks if Mr Darling s the only person who "does not realise what is happening to the NHS in England and Wales".

Get involved

Email: Talkingpoint@bbc.co.uk

Richard Woolley in Cheshire emails: The English will not allow their government to let Scotland use the pound. Scotland cannot have its cake and eat it. Independence means they are on their own.

I feel sorry for all the Scots who live in the rest of the UK who have been deprived of the vote.

Uncomfortable moment?

Mr Darling is taken to task by an audience member for "his Labour government" starting the privatisation of the NHS. An uncomfortable moment for the Better Together leader.

BBC