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Salmond a wet fish in TV debate?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 - 02:20

Scottish nationalist leader, Alex Salmond, fails to inflict any real damage on his opponent in a televised debate on whether Scotland should go its own way. With only six weeks left before a referendum, how much of a setback is it for his campaign for an independent nation? Joanna Partridge reports.

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Scottish TV's must-watch. The first, U.S-style, debate between the Yes and No camps ahead of the Scottish independence referendum. Pitting Alex Salmond, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, against former UK finance minister Alistair Darling, heading up the Better Together no campaign. SOUNDBITE: Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister and leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, saying (English): "On the 18th of September we have the opportunity of a lifetime - we should seize it with both hands." Salmond's trailing in the polls six weeks before the vote, which also show up to a quarter of voters are undecided. He was widely expected to come out on top. But a viewer poll for the UK's Guardian newspaper showed he lost the debate. Darling tackled Salmond on an independent Scotland's currency. SOUNDBITE: Alistair Darling, Head of the "Better Together" anti-independence campaign, saying (English): "Any eight-year-old can tell you the flag of the country, the capital of a country and its currency. Now I presume the flag's the Saltire, I assume our capital will still be Edinburgh but you can't tell us what currency we'll have. What's an eight-year-old going to make of that?" SOUNDBITE: Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister and leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party, saying (English): "Alistair, we'll take the pound because it belongs to Scotland as much as it belongs to England. It's our pound as well as your pound." Salmond argued an independent Scotland could build a fairer and richer society. But a number of businesses are worried what may happen. The Royal Bank of Scotland - 81% owned by the British government since the financial crisis - recently said independence could significantly increase its costs and affect its business. And Edinburgh-based insurance and pensions group Standard Life says it may move its operations out of Scotland if the country votes to leave. It could hurt both sides, says Philippe Gijsels from Fortis Bank. SOUNDBITE: Philippe Gijsels, Chief Strategy Officer, Fortis Bank, saying (English): "Not good news for Scotland economically, probably not for the UK as well, but would have clearly an impact on the rest because everybody would start wondering who is next." That means the September vote will be watched closely outside of the UK, says Will Hobbs from Barclays. SOUNDBITE: Will Hobbs, Barclays, saying (English): "September 11, so marginally before the elections, you get Catalan national day, and that may be, there are some that are worrying, that that may be the sort of spark for the more openly separatist forces in Catalonia to start demanding more freedom, more segregation." In a bid to win over voters to the "No" camp, the leaders of the UK's three main political parties have promised the Scottish parliament more control over taxes if it stays in the UK.

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Salmond a wet fish in TV debate?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014 - 02:20