Alistair Darling: Alex Salmond scared of TV debate

ALISTAIR Darling has accused Alex Salmond of “running scared” of a series of live TV debates between the pair on Scottish independence prior to next year’s referendum.

Alistair Darling: Salmond 'running scared'. Picture: Jane Barlow

The leader of the Better Together campaign said he would be writing again to Salmond to propose a head-to-head debate. He attacked Salmond’s insistence that a TV debate take place between him and David Cameron, saying that as the prime minister did not have a vote in the referendum next year, he was the wrong person to be involved.

Marking one year to go until the referendum, Darling said: “I am willing to debate him on this key issue. I can’t understand his refusal except that I am beginning to think he is running scared.”

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“He is in charge of the Yes Scotland and the SNP campaign. He should have the courage of his convictions to debate this,” he added.

On Cameron’s involvement, Darling added: “In January last year he said this is a matter for Scotland. This is for us in Scotland to decide. David Cameron doesn’t have a vote in Scotland. Alex Salmond has a vote, so he should have the courage of his convictions and be prepared to debate this.”

Describing a televised debate as the best way to flush out the issues, he said: “It is extraordinary that Alex ­Salmond is not prepared to ­debate with people in Scotland these big issues. He said the only person he’s willing to debate with is David Cameron.

“Now, David ­Cameron is not Alex Salmond’s problem. ­Cameron said at the beginning of last year that it is for the ­people of Scotland to decide whether we wish to ­remain part of the UK.”

However, Salmond has ­written to the prime minister to urge a debate between the pair. He says today: “I am asking him to agree to a live, televised head-to-head debate with myself, as the leaders of the respective campaigns.”

He adds: “I propose that we hold it on November 30th, Scotland’s national day – I can lay out the case for decisions being made here in Scotland and Mr Cameron can make the case for Westminster deciding for Scotland.

“A St Andrew’s Day debate will be a great opportunity to lay out the facts, and will be after the Scottish Government’s November publication of the white paper on independence.

“If the prime minister is so confident about his case against independence, what has he got to be afraid of?”