Salmond v Darling debate round 2: Leaders have had their say now it's up to the voters

SHIPBUILDING on the Clyde and the rise of foodbanks are reasons for independence Alex Salmond said last night.

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In the second televised debate, live from Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow, the First Minister and

Better Together leader Alistair Darling clashed again, with the currency, NHS and the future of Faslane hot topics.

Mr Salmond said the failings of the UK Government were the reason why Scotland needs to vote Yes on September 18.

The currency and the NHS were the dominant issues as both men answered questions from an invited audience and cross examined one other.

On shipbuilding, Mr Salmond raised the saving of the Ferguson shipyard and cited the troubles of the Govan and Scotstoun yards in recent decades.

He said: "Alistair said there is a threat to shipbuilding on the Clyde. I don't accept that."

He said there would be diversification of skills such as in Norway and other European countries.

Mr Salmond added: "Employment in the Clyde has gone from tens of thousands to 3000 under the UK.

"Face the reality, in so many areas of life, poverty and foodbanks, Westminster stands indicted by its running of Scotland."

He said the Scottish Government had to take £50million from other areas of its budget to mitigate the so-called bedroom tax.

Mr Darling returned to a theme he found popular in the first debate and returned to the currency in his opening remarks.

He said Alex Salmond did not have the answers on currency and that 'no thanks' to independence did not mean no change.

He said: "For ourselves and our children and the generations to come we need to say no thanks."

Mr Salmond opened with the reasons he said Scotland needs independence.

He said life had got better under devolution but too many issues were still under Westminster control.

He cited the bedroom tax, illegal wars, foodbanks and nuclear weapons.

Mr Salmond said: "This is our moment. Let us take it."

Earlier this month, Mr Darling also challenged the First Minister on the currency while Mr Salmond said the existence of dozens of foodbanks in Glasgow was a big reason to vote for independence from Westminster.

They exchanged opposing views on oil, with Mr Darling telling voters it was "volatile" and Scotland could be too reliant on oil for a large percentage of public spending.

Mr Salmond said every other country regarded oil in its waters as blessing not a curse.

Mr Darling said: "Predictions of the amount of oil produced have always been overestimated.

"I don't want to see my country so dependent on something so volatile."

The question of the currency was also a hot topic.

Alistair Darling and a member of the audience again asked the First Minister what Plan B would be if the UK rejects a currency union.

Mr Salmond said there was "a range" of Plan Bs, including flexible currency, fixed exchange rate and repeated assertions that Scotland couldn't be stopped from using the pound.

He added: "I want the mandate of the Scottish people to negotiate a currency union.

Mr Salmond went on the attack on the NHS, which he said was at risk in England.

He said: "We have operational control of the health service but we don't have financial control.

"If England goes down the road of privatisation and charging then the financial pressure makes it difficult for Scotland."

Mr Darling said public services would be more squeezed under independence.

He argued that the NHS was better funded through the security of the larger UK, and said Mr Salmond was "scaremongering" over it.

In his opportunity to cross examine Mr Salmond, Mr Darling again returned to the currency, and Mr Salmond accused him being a "one trick pony".

Trident and jobs at Faslane were also raised in a question from the audience and Mr Salmond said Trident could be moved within five and a half years.

Mr Darling said experts said any move could take up to 2028 and put 8000 jobs at risk on the Clyde.


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