Scotland debate: 12 key quotes that explain what happened


Last night’s Scottish independence debate between Alex Salmond and Alastair Darling was a hotly contested battle in which both sides sought to inflict maximum damage on one another.

It is claimed that ahead of the televised debates, Salmond’s “yes” side said the arguments would be as devastating for Darling as the Battle of Bannockburn was to the English in the First War of Scottish Independence in 1314.

But after the debates, Darling’s team deployed a historical analogy of their own, saying Salmond had suffered a Waterloo style defeat.

The decisive route made by Darling was to repeatedly attack Salmond’s weak volleys on the future of Scottish currency.

Here are the key quotes from the night:

Opening remarks:

Salmond: “My case this evening is this: no one, no one will do a better job of running Scotland than the people who live and work in this country.”

Darling: “Let’s say it with confidence, let’s say it with pride, let’s say it with optimism, no thanks to the risks of independence.”

Salmond: “For more than half of my life, Scotland has been governed by parties that we didn’t elect.”

Darling: “We cannot make this decision on the basis of guesswork, fingers crossed or his [Salmond’s] blind faith.”

Economic plans:

Darling: “Keeping the currency union seems to me a bit like getting a divorce and then keeping the same joint bank account, you have to get agreement, and the other side is saying ‘no it won’t happen’. What is your plan B?”

To which Salmond replied: “We’d keep the pound because it’s Scotland’s pound too.”

Darling: “A currency union is stupidity on stilts. It only works if you have an economic union and a political union.”

Darling: “Any eight-year-old can tell you the flag of a country, the capital of a country and its currency. I presume the flag is the saltire, I assume our capital will still be Edinburgh, but you can’t tell us what currency we will have. What is an eight-year-old going to make of that?”

Driving on the right:

Salmond: “The no campaign has said that an independent Scotland would have to drive on the right. Is that true Alastair?”

To which Darling replied: “Do you know what a joke is, Alex? We tell jokes every now and again.”


Douglas Alexander, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary said: “Alex Salmond thought this debate would be his Bannockburn – it’s turning out to be his Waterloo.”

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