A SENIOR nationalist has called for two keynote TV debates, involving both referendum campaigns as well as the UK and Scottish governments, to take place in the run up to the vote on independence.
Margo MacDonald said Alex Salmond should go head-to head against both David Cameron and No campaign leader Alistair Darling in two separate live TV debates in 2014.
The Independent nationalist MSP said “that’s the fairest way of doing it” as she said she would raise the issue at Holyrood when MSPs return after the summer recess.
She insisted that a deal was needed on the issue to avoid a damaging row similar to that over the controversial exclusion of the SNP from the leader’s debate at the 2010 General Election.
Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all took part in leaders debates ahead of the 2010 election on ITV, BSkyB and the BBC over three successive Thursday evenings.
Ms MacDonald also wants Labour and the Greens to be represented in any TV clashes as well as saying she would be prepared to act as Alex Salmond’s seconder in any debate against Mr Cameron.
Mr Salmond has so far said he wanted to take part in a debate with the Prime Minister in the run-up to a referendum, although Mr Cameron is understood to be opposed to the move.
Better Together leader Mr Darling has also publicly challenged Mr Salmond to a separate debate, although the First Minister has yet to agree to it.
However, Ms MacDonald insisted that the two campaigns and the Holyrood and Westminster parliaments both had to be represented in the televised debates.
She said: “Let’s have the two guys who head up the two institutions of Holyrood and Westminster going up against each other.
“It’s also absolutely fair that the leaders of the two movements should debate with each other.
“The Yes campaign is effectively fronted by Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling has validity as the leader of the No campaign.”
Ms MacDonald will lodge a motion at Holyrood on the issue with MSPs asked to back an agreement between both sides on referendum campaign TV debates.
The Lothians MSP insisted that Salmond should lead for the Yes side in two TV debates because of his position as First Minister and as “de facto” head of the Yes campaign.
Ms MacDonald, who is a former SNP deputy leader, said Labour leader Johann Lamont should be involved in a Mr Salmond versus Mr Cameron debate.
She said: “Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie should be Salmond’s running mate in a debate against Darling, with Labour deputy leader
Anas Sarwar also represented.
She said: “I’d choose Patrick Harvie, who’s possibly the best debater in the parliament.
“There is no one else in Alex Salmond’s position. He leads the movement and leads the parliament so he’s de facto leader of the Yes campaign.”