Last Scots independence TV debate - after ice bucket challenge

AFP
A picture dated August 5, 2014 shows Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond (L) shaking hands with leader of Better Together campaign and former minister Alistair Darling (R) ahead of STV live television debate on Scottish independence in Glasgow
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A picture dated August 5, 2014 shows Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond (L) shaking hands with leader of Better Together campaign and former minister Alistair Darling (R) ahead of STV live television debate on Scottish independence in Glasgow (AFP Photo/Peter Devlin)

London (AFP) - The 'Yes' and 'No' camps in Scotland's independence debate were preparing Sunday for their final TV showdown of the campaign, trading fresh blows on the economy -- and the ice bucket challenge.

Three weeks before Scotland votes on whether to split from Britain, pro-independence First Minister Alex Salmond will face Alistair Darling, leader of the 'No' campaign, in their second debate on Monday night.

Opinion polls indicate that Scots are set to reject independence in the referendum on September 18.

The campaign on both sides has adopted a lighter tone in recent days with leading figures taking on the ice bucket challenge -- the social media sensation which sees public figures being doused in freezing water to raise awareness of neurodegenerative disease ALS.

Scottish "X-Men" star James McAvoy nominated both Darling and Salmond to carry out the challenge after doing it himself last week.

Darling endured his soaking on Friday and Salmond followed suit on Sunday -- before challenging arch-foe Cameron to do the same.

Both campaigns have focused on the economy. Salmond and the pro-independence camp argue that Scotland would be wealthier as a separate country while Darling and the 'No' camp say being part of Britain gives Scotland greater economic stability.

A YouGov poll for The Times newspaper last week put support for independence at 43 percent compared to 57 percent for those who wanted Scotland to stay part of the United Kingdom. Undecided voters were not included.

While that poll also indicated increasing support for 'Yes' and falling support for 'No', Salmond will be keen for a strong performance against Darling on Monday.

Most commentators thought he came off second best in the first TV debate earlier this month which was dominated by questions over what currency Scotland would use if it became independent.

Salmond insists it could keep Britain's currency, the pound, but Prime Minister David Cameron's government in London has ruled this out.

Douglas Alexander, a leading figure in the 'No' campaign and the main opposition Labour party's foreign affairs spokesman, accused Salmond of "selling a product that Scotland doesn't want to buy".

"I think Alex Salmond will put in a strong performance but I think he has a very difficult set of cards to play because he is haunted in the final days of this campaign by a whole series of unresolved issues," he added.

But a spokesman for Salmond said he would use the debate to argue "why Scotland can, should and must have the powers of an independent country".

"An independent Scotland will keep the pound because it's our currency too," the spokesman added.

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