DEPUTY First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today insisted that spirits in the SNP have “never been better” despite reports of internal strife over Alex Salmond’s performance in this week’s TV debate with Better Together chief Alistair Darling.
The former Chancellor also came under fire from his former Labour colleague and Yes Scotland chief Dennis Canavan for being on a “different planet” over his comments in the STV showdown.
Mr Darling was widely deemed to have come out on top in the head to head with the SNP leader, but some polling evidence suggested Mr Salmond’s measured approach had won over the crucial tranche of undecided and women voters.
Ms Sturgeon today insisted that the SNP Government’s plans to keep the pound in a currency union with the UK “makes sense” despite being ruled out by the UK Government and Labour opposition.
“The mood in the party is good,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“We’re six weeks from the biggest moment in the party’s history. We all in the SNP came into politics for a variety of reasons, but chief among them for Scotland to be a normal independent country with powers and access to our resources to build a better Scotland.
“We’re six weeks away from that opportunity, the mood in the SNP has never been better and the belief in the SNP that we’re going to win this referendum is absolutely sky high.”
The SNP Deputy leader said the challenge for the Yes camp is to win over more women voters and initial polling evidence, albeit from small samples, suggests Alex Salmond was successful in doing this.
“Alex won that debate among women voters - that’s hugely, hugely encouraging.”
Ms Sturgeon was widely deemed to have performed strongly in a series of TV debates she participated in against Labour leader Johann Lamont, her Deputy Anas Sarwar, Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary Michael Moore and his successor Alistair Carmichael. However, the events attracted criticism for being too aggressive, with the combatants often shouting over each.
“We’ve got to remember - and this is perhaps the mistake Johann Lamont and I made in the debate we had - is that these debates, if they’re to be effective, are not aimed at political activists and political journalists.
“They’re aimed at the public and the evidence of the debate is where the First Minister connected - with women, with undecided voters and that’s what matters for the Yes campaign.”
The SNP Deputy leader was joined by Mr Canavan as they launched a new billboard in Edinburgh which states that Scotland has “one opportunity” to use our wealth for Scotland
Mr Canavan said: “The wealth of Scotland is not being used for the people and in an independent Scotland we will have the chance to ensure that the wealth of Scotland is far more evenly distributed.
“At present the UK is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world.
“That is a scandal and when I hear people like Alistair Darling saying that with the United Kingdom we’ve got the best of both worlds, I wonder what world he’s living in.
“I wonder what planet he’s on. There’s a great deal of injustice in Scotland and other parts of the UK. But with independence we can address these problems far more efficiently and bring about a fairer Scotland.”
He pointed to the evidence from internal polling which suggests previously undecided voters are moving towards Yes.
“That confirms previous polls we’ve done ourselves which indicate even before the debate that seven out of ten of the people who were previously undecided are moving to the Yes side,” Mr Canavan added.
“That’s very encouraging indeed especially going into the last six weeks of the campaign.
“We’re going to win. I’m very confident, I said at the very start of this campaign it’s going to be more like a marathon rather than a short sprint and we’re now approaching the home straight in that marathon. We’re closing the gap, the momentum is on our side.
“There’s still a huge amount of work to be done to win the hearts and minds of the people of Scotland, but I’m confident that we’re going to do.”