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No campaign in further TV debates discussions

Better Together will keep pressing the currency issue amid evidence that it is proving a hit with referendum voters, leader Alistair Darling said. Picture: PA

Better Together will keep pressing the currency issue amid evidence that it is proving a hit with referendum voters, leader Alistair Darling said. Picture: PA

ALEX SALMOND and Alistair Darling could go head to head in two further televised referendum debates, Better Together has said.

The No campaign is in discussions with Sky and Channel 4 for further debates around the time of the forthcoming BBC debate on August 25.

It follows the opening STV debate on Tuesday. The Sky and Channel 4 debates have yet to be agreed and Better Together has set a deadline of August 26 to ensure the TV debates are over before postal ballots are sent.

Internet forum Mumsnet has also lined up the opposing leaders for an online debate in the coming weeks.

Better Together will keep pressing for answers on what currency an independent Scotland will use amid evidence that it is proving a hit with referendum voters, leader Alistair Darling told journalists in Glasgow.

There “is not a shred of evidence” that George Osborne’s insistence that an independent Scotland will lose the pound damaged the No campaign in the polls despite the SNP’s insistence that it backfired, Mr Darling said.

Both polling evidence and the “Tesco test” - eavesdropping on supermarket conversations - have shown Mr Darling that the currency question is causing consternation amongst Scottish voters, he said.

He said: “If you look at both polls, both sides will tell you that it’s the economy that is dominating.

“Of course emotion comes into it, but it’s the economy and the issue of currency that is beginning to cut through.

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“I know this is anecdotal but it has certainly worked for me as a politician: you apply the Tesco test.

“I was in Tesco quite recently and I heard these two ladies, one of them saying: ‘I’m very worried about what currency we are going to have’.

“It is cutting through and that’s why on Tuesday night Alex Salmond was floundering on that, because he knows it matters.

“Currency is not the only thing we are talking about. I had lots of questions I would have asked Alex Salmond on Tuesday night if he had answered the first one, but he didn’t.

“As I expected he wouldn’t, I did what any good lawyer does, I kept asking him.”

He added: “The argument in relation to the currency, I know the nats said it backfired but actually there isn’t a shred of evidence to suggest that in the polling.”

Mr Darling said viewers should expect more of the “passionate” performance viewers witnessed in the first TV debate on STV last week.

“I am a naturally restrained, quiet person but this is something I care about,” he said.

“I came off the backbenches to do this campaign because I care passionately about what happens to my country and that’s why on Tuesday night I got passionate about it because I am passionate about it.”

A spokesman for Alex Salmond said: “We continue to talk to broadcasters about further debate opportunities to spell out the positive case for Yes - which means we can protect our NHS from Westminster privatisation, create more job opportunities in Scotland, and ensure we never again get Tory governments rejected by the people of Scotland.

“It was Gordon Brown who warned the No campaign about bullying Scotland on currency - it is our pound too, and an independent Scotland will keep the pound.

“Support for independence increased to 47% after the STV debate, and to 48% among women - and undecided voters thought Alex Salmond won by a majority of some three to one, which is extremely encouraging.

“We look forward to the debates, which will give the First Minister further opportunities to highlight the benefits a Yes vote will bring for Scotland, including closing the gap between rich and poor which grew while Alistair Darling was chancellor.

“We also look forward to Alistair Darling being better able to confirm Scotland would be a successful independent country - as fellow No camp colleagues such as Prime Minister David Cameron already have.”

A spokeswoman for Sky confirmed that discussions about holding a debate are ongoing.

 

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