Alex Salmond defends TV debate performance

Alex Salmond. Picture: Getty
Alex Salmond. Picture: Getty
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ALEX SALMOND has attempted to defend his performance in STV’s televised debate as he came under increasing pressure from his own party.

The No campaign sought to capitalise on his refusal to outline a currency Plan B, if Scotland could not retain the pound.

Mr Salmond was accused of repeatedly shying away from the question and has been urged to come clean on the issue by business leaders, economists and senior members of his own pro-independence campaign.

There is growing concern within the SNP that Mr Salmond had not performed well enough in the debate, which attracted 1.7 million viewers, to attract undecided voters.

Polls after the event suggest that more undecided voters had now decided to reject independence rather than support it. But Mr Salmond remained bullish on the morning after the debate yesterday as he adressed a Business for Scotland event at Our Dynamic Earth.

Mr Salmond said it was of the utmost importance to underline the Scottish Government’s commitment to a currency union to ensure that sharing the pound was the “sovereign mandate” of the Scottish people in the event of a Yes vote. In attempting to explain his reluctance to explore any other currency options when confronted by Mr Darling, he said: “It is very important in the sterling debate to make sure that no-one can say that you are not committed to the currency union as proposed in the white paper.”

Sticking to the current currency union policy in the white paper – which people would have effectively voted Yes on – would make the Scottish Government’s stance clear when it came to the post-independence negotiations with the UK government, Mr Salmond suggested.

Looking at the other options, Mr Salmond ruled out joining the euro. He said it did not seem sensible because of the transaction costs between Scotland and England.

He also said Mr Darling – who most pundits and observers judged to have come out on top in exchanges – had resorted to being “shouty man” in the TV debate, and added: “I am absolutely certain the way to not just win this campaign, but to win the hearts and minds of the people, is to have a discussion.”

Mr Salmond had been critised for mounting personal attacks on Mr Darling and too often quoting him and other pro-union politicians from historical newspaper articles, rather than putting forward a solid case for independence.

After speaking at the Business for Scotland event, Mr Salmond took the relatively rare step of attending Holyrood’s weekly group meeting of MSPs – a move that was interpreted as an attempt to rally the troops the day after his TV clash.

One SNP insider said: “I have spoken to a few people who were not that impressed. The general view is that he could have performed better and did not hit the target.”