Comment: Pupils put the rest of us to shame

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the audience listened respectfully and seemed genuinely interested in other points of view.

There was no name calling, no antagonism, no threats of violence or worse.

There was even a genuine sense at the Central Hall in Tollcross that the Independence Referendum debate could be useful and inspiring. That it could inform and educate, rather than cause bad blood and confusion.

The way the debate was conducted by perhaps the biggest gathering of 16-year-old voters that the country has yet seen was just what many seasoned Referendum campaigners desperately need to see.

This was a reminder after all the depressing developments of recent days and months – from the despicable online abuse of JK Rowling to the apparent death threats received by Nicola Sturgeon – that we are capable of doing things in a different way. This was a lesson from our children in how to do things better.

And it is not just the online trolls and loud-mouth yobs who could learn a lesson from these switched-on teenagers. As James Gillespie’s High headteacher Donald MacDonald pointed out, some of the recent televised debate from our politicians has been of poor quality and off-puttingly antagonistic.

It is worth noting that one of the things which most impressed much of yesterday’s audience of students from Gillespie’s and Boroughmuir high schools was the ability of the two speakers – Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale and the Greens’ Sarah Beattie-Smith – to agree with each other as much as disagree. Voters of all ages know the issues are not black and white and that there is plenty of room for common ground between both sides of the campaign. They know that and they want to hear it reflected in the debates on TV and in the press.

There is still time before September 18 to learn those lessons, but it is running out fast.