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Friday 19 September 2014

Debate victory can carry 'Yes' camp to victory: Salmond

Stephen McGill

Published 27/08/2014 | 02:30

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Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond

The momentum from the final television debate in the Scottish Independence campaign can carry the 'Yes' vote to victory in next month's referendum, the country's First Minister Alex Salmond has said.

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Mr Salmond said yesterday that the "Yes campaign are going to have our tails up and our tails will be up for the next three weeks as we carry this campaign to victory".

But Alistair Darling, leader of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, said the independence referendum debate will be a "fight right down to the wire".

He insisted his campaign had the momentum coming out of Monday night's BBC debate - the second and final TV clash between the two politicians.

Complacent

A snap poll afterwards showed that 71pc of people questioned thought Mr Salmond won the debate, compared with 29pc for Mr Darling - with the same poll finding that 51pc of the 505 people surveyed would vote 'No' and 49pc would vote 'Yes'.

Postal votes for the September 18 referendum were being sent out yesterday and Mr Darling insisted: "If you look at all the evidence, all the polls that have been published for the last few months, they consistently show us with a lead, most of them a double-digit lead. I'm not complacent - a lot can happen in the next three weeks - but we have momentum. We're making good progress, our activity on the ground, on the streets, has been stepped up dramatically, the results we're getting in are extremely encouraging. I'm very optimistic, but I'm not complacent.

"I've always said I thought this would be a fight right down to the wire, but I am increasingly confident."

Despite his victory in the debate, Mr Salmond said that "TV debates aren't the be-all and end-all".

He added: "What matters is the impact on our ground campaign, which is our not-so-secret weapon.

"We're fighting the most 
energising, electrifying, extraordinary campaign in Scottish political history.

"That's taking place in the town hall, village halls, towns, cities, streets of Scotland and the impact on the morale of activists is of fundamental importance.

"It's about momentum, it's also about argument. People in the next few days are taking postal votes into their hands. In a few weeks' time they're going to go into polling stations and take the future of their country into their hands. When people do that, they're going to vote for something. They're not going to vote against something.

"People want to vote for things and the 'Yes' campaign are articulating an argument about protection of public services, the creation of jobs, the things that an independent Scotland can deliver for people… how we create a more prosperous, a more just society.

Energising

"That's what's energising the debate and that's what's going to make the difference in three weeks' time."

Meanwhile, bookmakers William Hill said yesterday that 84pc of the bets on the outcome of the referendum since Monday night's debate had been placed on a 'Yes' vote, and that 98pc of the stake money gambled on the outcome since then is also for this result.

The bookmakers has made 'No' its favourite result for the referendum, with odds of 1/7.

Irish Independent

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