Scottish independence: Carmichael called to debate

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael. Picture: Jane Barlow
Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael. Picture: Jane Barlow
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SCOTTISH Secretary Alistair Carmichael should take on First Minister Alex Salmond in a debate on Scottish independence because No campaign leader Alistair Darling would suffer a “slaughter worse than the Bannockburn re-enactment” if he took part, according to an SNP MP.

Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire, challenged Mr Carmichael to debate Salmond since Prime Minister David Cameron was “running a mile” from doing it.

But Mr Wishart said the debate would be better with the “organ grinder” Mr Cameron rather than the “Alistair monkeys” as he goaded Mr Carmichael.

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Mr Carmichael described Mr Wishart’s remarks as “pitiful” and said the SNP only talk about the terms of the debate because they want to avoid the substance.

During Scotland questions in the Commons, Mr Wishart said: “Isn’t the best way to inform people to debate?

“Yet we have the leader of the No campaign, the Prime Minister, running a mile, feared to do just that.

“What about the substitute designate. It’ll be a slaughter worse than the Bannockburn re-enactment if they put out the angry, agitated Alastair to debate with the First Minister.

“What we need is you. You could do it, you’re good at this stuff.

“What we really need is the organ grinder, not one of the Alistair monkeys to debate with the First Minister.”

Mr Carmichael said: “That was pitiful, and I can’t believe that even sounded good when you rehearsed it in the mirror this morning.

“It is typical though of what we hear from the Scottish Nationalists. They are desperate always to talk about how we will debate. They only do that because they want to avoid the actual debate because they know that the force of argument is on the side of those of us who want to remain in the United Kingdom.”

In earlier exchanges, Mr Carmichael described the referendum as a “distraction”.

He said said: “I long for the day when again ministers here and ministers in Edinburgh can all concentrate on doing the day job of working together to get the maximum benefit to Scotland, Scotland’s economy, and jobs for the people of Scotland that come from inward investment instead of a referendum distraction.”