Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Momentum now with YES side with three weeks to go

Here's my initial thoughts on last nights TV debate on Independence, published in todays Evening News. I missed the last live TV debate where Alex Salmond was said to have ‘under-performed’, I was on holiday. But there can surely be no doubt he won this “return leg” hands down. His naturally combatative style had returned, walking out from behind the lectern, his script was dotted with upbeat references to “this extraordinary time . . . this golden opportunity for the people of Scotland . . . best placed to make the right decisions . . . and a hugely exciting and energising campaign”. In contrast Alistair Darling’s remarks were noted above all for their timidity, their caution and risk averse emphasis. He mentioned “threats”, “costs”, “gambles”, “volatility” and “insecurities” but failed to offer a positive vision. More alarmingly perhaps for Better Together strategists the former Chancellor was also rather gaffe-prone. He conceded ‘Of course Scotland can use the pound’. And he made the mistake of returning once too often to the currency issue leading Salmond to accuse him of being a ‘one- trick pony’. The audience at Kelvingrove Museum and viewers around the country seemed to groan in unison. But in conceding ‘This [referendum] is not about him [Alex Salmond]’ he has blunted the instrument which No activists have been using above all others to tell Labour voters in particular that this referendum is in fact ‘all about Alex Salmond’. The polls will reveal in due course whether this second live TV debate has changed people’s minds, but it has certainly put a spring in the step of Yes campaigners with three weeks to go.