Salmond to PM: Let's set aboot it

First Minister Alex Salmond said he believes people living in Scotland will vote yes for independence despite polls which so far suggest more people favour remaining part of the UK.

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Journalist Jim Naughtie quizzed Alex Salmond at the Mitchell Theatre
Journalist Jim Naughtie quizzed Alex Salmond at the Mitchell Theatre

Likening the run-up to the September 18 referendum to a horse race, Mr Salmond said he was confident voters will support the "positive" campaign put forward by the Yes group in eight months' time.

"I believe we will win the referendum," the First Minister told the BBC's James Naughtie during an interview and public question session in Glasgow.

"The polls ask people, 'how will you vote tomorrow?', and the referendum is not tomorrow," Mr Salmond said.

"Just like in a horse race, it doesn't matter who's leading on the home bend, what matters is who is ahead when you get to the post."

He added: "I believe that if you have a fundamentally negative campaign coming up against a fundamentally positive campaign, then the positive campaign will win."

The First Minister was questioned by Mr Naughtie on an independent Scotland's accession to the EU, asked to explain the Scottish Government's policy on a currency union with the rest of the UK and to defend the criticism of some Nationalists who say the plans for independence do not go far enough.

Mr Salmond said: "I suppose if you looked from your perspective, you'd say, well, Denmark isn't truly an independent state because it shares sovereignty over a whole range of things, even its currency the Krone is pegged to the euro.

"But, as we understand it in the modern world, Denmark is an independent state and proud to be an independent state.

"If you went to somebody in Denmark and said, 'look, you're not really independent'... I think even the talented Mr (Adam) Price, the creator of (hit Danish television series) Borgen, would find that a difficult script line because he wouldn't find anybody in that entire Danish parliament that would be prepared to argue that."

The event, at Glasgow's Mitchell Library, was supported by the Fraser of Allander Institute, our sister paper The Herald and the International Network of Street Papers (INSP).

The First Minister reiterated his wish to take part in a debate ahead of the referendum with Prime Minister David Cameron, saying that given his resistance perhaps surprise was the best tactic.

He joked: "I need the INSP to lure the Prime Minister on to a platform and then I'll walk on and say 'let's set aboot it, David'."

Mr Salmond said he would debate with Alistair Darling, head of the Better Together campaign, only after Mr Cameron agreed to do the same.

"I want to keep the Prime Minister behind the eight ball on this issue," he said.

He also repeated the SNP's pledge that Scotland would not adopt the euro in the event of a Yes vote.

Insisting membership of the euro was "voluntary" he insisted: "We would not join the euro in the foreseeable future and no-one can force us to join the euro."

He again claimed the UK Government would agree to establish a currency union with an independent Scotland, despite hints to the contrary by Chancellor George Osborne.

"Once the decision (to become independent) is taken, people will do what is in the best interests of the people of Scotland and the people of the UK.

"A sterling area is in the best interests of the people of Scotland and the UK," he said.

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