War of words on TV over Scotland independence

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Aug 07, 2014 00:34 IST

A bitter war of words broke out during the first television debate on Tuesday night between two top leaders who support and oppose independence for Scotland, which will vote in a historic referendum on September 18.

As the referendum day nears, the political temperature is hotting up between the supporters for independence, spearheaded by the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), and the opponents, grouped under the 'Better Together' campaign.

Tuesday's TV debate between SNP leader Alex Salmond and Better Together leader Alistair Darling soon led to furious exchanges as both sides sought to influence voters who are still undecided on the issue.

The referendum question will be: "Should Scotland be an independent country?" and voters will choose Yes or No. Whichever option has the most votes will win the referendum, regardless of how many people turn out to vote.

If a majority of those who vote want Scotland to be independent then it would become an independent country after a process of negotiations. Following the negotiations Scotland would leave the United Kingdom and become a new and separate state.

The Better Together campaign supported by the three main parties (Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats) wants voters to vote 'No', so that Scotland remains in the United Kingdom. Both sides have put forth volumes of data to support their cases.

As Darling quizzed Salmond on key issues such as currency in an independent Scotland, and Salmond challenged him on the ways in which Scotland was allegedly run from Westminster with limited local powers, both sides later claimed victory.

Salmond said: "My case this evening is this: no one, no one will do a better job of running Scotland than the people who live and work in this country." Darling retorted that every Scot and all 'No' voters wanted Scotland to prosper.

Darling said: "If we decide to leave, there's no going back. There's no second chance. For us, the choice is very, very clear. I want to use the strength of the UK to make Scotland stronger. [A] vote against independence isn't a vote for no change."

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