Scottish independence: Alex Salmond wants TV debate with David Cameron

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond says he wants to debate with Prime Minister David Cameron

First Minister Alex Salmond has said he wants to face Prime Minister David Cameron in a TV debate on Scottish independence.

The SNP leader was speaking on BBC One's Andrew Marr show from his party's conference in Inverness.

The electorate in Scotland will be asked to vote yes or no to independence in a referendum on 18 September 2014.

Mr Salmond accepted there would be a number of TV showdowns, but he thought the first should be with Mr Cameron.

When asked by interviewer Eddie Mair whether he would debate with pro-union head Alistair Darling, he said: "My first mark is David Cameron the Prime Minister.

"I think as first minister of Scotland I should debate with the prime minister. We signed the Edinburgh agreement. He's against independence - I'm for it.

"So I think the first debate should be between the first minister of Scotland - who wants independence - and the prime minister of the UK who's trying to stop Scotland getting independence and then other debates will no doubt take place."

Start Quote

The fact is that they [pro-independence campaigners] cannot answer the most basic questions about independence - setting the date is not enough. Salmond must set out the detail.”

End Quote Alistair Darling Head of Better Together campaign

Mr Salmond was speaking as separate polls suggested that the public wanted political leaders to go head-to-head in televised debates on the implications of independence.

A pro-union Better Together survey indicated that 71% of people wanted Mr Salmond to face Mr Darling.

A separate poll, published by the SNP, showed 67% wanted the prime minister to meet Mr Salmond in a TV debate.

The surveys were both conducted by YouGov.

The Better Together campaign's poll showed 73% of people did not feel they had been given enough details about how independence could work.

Among SNP voters in the survey, only 49% said they had enough information on which to base their decision.

Mr Darling said: "People know that, if the nationalists had the answers to their questions, we would have heard them by now.

"The fact is that they cannot answer the most basic questions about independence.

"Setting the date is not enough. Salmond must set out the detail."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon backed Mr Salmond's stance and said the prime minister should take part in a TV debate.

"David Cameron has a duty as the most senior politician in the anti-independence movement to come forward and stop hiding from this challenge," she said.

"It would offer an opportunity for him to tell the people of Scotland why Westminster insists on wasting billions of pounds on unwanted Trident weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde, whilst imposing unfair measures such as the bedroom tax."

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