Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

British ex-Chancellor Alistair Darling, left, and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond. / AP

LONDON - Weeks before a historic vote that could see Scotland jettison 307 years of political union with England in favor of independence, the two British politicians leading the "Yes" and "No" camps went head-to-head Monday night in a final, televised debate.

Alex Salmond, leader of the Scottish National Party, and Alistair Darling, who chairs the pro-Union Better Together campaign, clashed over what currency an independent Scotland would use, disputed estimates over North Sea oil revenues and the future of the state-funded National Health Service.

"No one will run this country better than the people who live and work in Scotland," Salmond said in opening the debate in Glasgow. "We are a rich nation, a resourceful people. We can create a prosperous nation and a fairer society. A real vision for the people of Scotland. This is our time. It's our moment. Use it now."

Darling, who was chancellor of the Exchequer under former prime minister Gordon Brown, said voters were being asked on a range of key questions to "take his (Salmond's) word for it on everything." He said Salmond had "no Plan B for anything. Trust what he says - sorry, I can't."

The 90-minute debate was held at an art gallery and museum and attended by 200 people, who were allowed to ask questions. Salmond and Darling both claimed victory after an Aug. 5 debate.

The Sept. 18 referendum has a single "Yes"/"No" question on whether Scotland should be an independent country. Most polling gives the "No" campaign the edge, although some commentators have suggested that the polls are starting to tighten as undecided voters begin to make up their minds.

The question of what currency an independent Scotland would use has been a major contention during the campaign. Salmond maintained Monday that Scotland "cannot be stopped from using the pound" because it belongs just as much to Scotland as it does to England. However, all three major British political parties have said they would not accept sharing the pound with Scotland if voters there decide to go it alone.

Darling conceded during the debate that an independent Scotland could not be stopped from using the pound. He also said that doing so would effectively be giving away some of its national sovereignty, because the Bank of England would be making decisions that could affect monetary policy. Salmond has accused Darling of scaremongering.

Speaking at the Edinburgh international book festival Monday, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz - one of Salmond's economic advisers - said he had been "a little bit shocked at how much of it (the pro-Union campaign) is based on fear, trying to get anxiety levels up, and how little of it has been based on vision."

Gary Stewart, a telecom worker from outside Glasgow who favors a "Yes" vote, said he was nervous about watching the debate but thought Salmond "was on fire" and "totally nailed the currency question."

Stewart said Salmond "comes across as though he believes what he says." Stewart said he believes Monday's debate may be a game-changer for the "Yes" campaign, which is trailing in the polls.

Chuka Umunna, a Labor Party member of Parliament, said on Twitter, "Again, no answers from Salmond tonight on the big questions. As Alistair Darling illustrated, all Salmond offers is uncertainty."

An instant poll by The Guardian/ICM put Salmond as the clear winner of this second debate, by a margin of 71% to 29%. The same poll after the first debate put Darling at 56% and Salmond at 44%.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Leaders clash in final Scotland independence debate

More In

test

Real Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers in central Ohio.

GET DEALS | COUPONS

Things To Do

TUE
30
WED
1
THU
2
FRI
3
SAT
4
SUN
5
MON
6

CLASSIFIEDS

Classifieds from across Central Ohio
Lancaster
Chillicothe
Newark
Marion
Bucyrus
Mansfield
Zanesville
Coshocton

Weeklies & Shoppers

10TV Headlines

Dispatch Headlines

METROMIX