Tonight is the long awaited Scottish debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling. STV released their latest Ipsos MORI at the start of the debate – topline figures there are YES 40%(+4), NO 54%(nc), don’t knows just 6%. Excluding don’t knows that works out at YES 42%(+2), NO 58%(-2).

MORI tend to be one of those pollsters who show more favourable figures for the NO campaign, so by their standards its a favourable poll for YES. Then again, if MORI are right, then a sixteen point lead for NO is still a a big gap to close with only six weeks to go.

Following the debate the only instant poll I’m aware of is ICM for the Guardian, due to go out about 9.40 (results will hopefully be before ten, but it obviously depends on how quickly people respond!)

UPDATE: ICM’s instant poll crowns Darling the winner – 56% for Darling, 44% for Alex Salmond. The figures are, incidentally, very close to the sort of NO/YES figures ICM report in referendum voting intentions. We’ll know properly when we see ICM’s tables, but I suspect we may find that people who were voting YES anyway thought Salmond won, people who were voting NO anyway thought Darling won.

UPDATE2: Full figures including don’t knows were Darling 47%, Salmond 37%, Don’t Know 15%. Sample size was 512.

UPDATE3: Tabs are here. People’s perceptions of who won were, as suspected, largely in line with their pre-existing dispositions towards independence, though not entirely. Amongst people who were voting NO before the debate people thought Darling won by 83% to 6%. Amongst pre-debate YES voters people thought Salmond won by 72% to 16%. Amongst people who said they were don’t knows, Salmond was slightly ahead – 44% to 36% (albeit, there were only 63 don’t knows, so we’re talking about the difference of 4 or 5 people). Bottom line is that there was no big knockout blow here – the large majority of both sides thought their own “champion” won, don’t knows were pretty evenly split.

417 Responses to “Salmond v Darling debate”

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  1. Of course ,it could be that the decision of Boris to put himself forward again as a Tory MP might have the somewhat perverse effect of creating a real incentive for pro-Boris voters to kick the Tories out in order to bring about Cameron’s resignation and a subsequent leadership contest. Personally I do not expect his influence to extend beyond the constituency he eventually decides to contest.

  2. Guy

    “Of course I meant 2012 not 2010 – berk”

    When yer in the wrong you shouldn’t be rude to the person who pointed it out.

    ….. actually, come to think of it…. you definitely should.

  3. We love Boris but more so in terms of his personality and the fact that he is one of the few characters left in politics.

    His Thatcherite credentials are questionable though – he backs public investment and has spoken favourably of the living wage. Not sure he would fully get the Kippers back.

  4. mrnameless

    “…This petition has been going around a bit – it proposes that the Labour Party begins to stand candidates in Northern Ireland…”

    The rules were changed recently to allow a candidate to stand for more than one party at an election. This suggest an obvious solution: allow the putative MP to stand for both the SDLP and Labour.

  5. I don’t think Boris has a hope in hell of becoming Tory leader.

    The moment if you like for Etonians descended from royalty (Boris from George II and Cameron from James I) was in 2007/8.

    At that point there was a definite “feeling” that Britain had gotten beyond class, so there would be no backlash if an Etonian establishment figure or figures subtly took control of the reins of the country without people shouting about class. Hence Cameron was elected leader of the Tories and Johnson was elected Mayor of London.

    Since then class has been back with a vengeance – and you could argue that it was the Bullingdon boys who sparked the revival of class politics.

    The peak for the Etonians was 2007/8. By 2010 Cameron was unable to win a majority even against an exhausted Gordon Brown who’d been at the top of the govt for 13 years.

    The idea that the public will say, “what we need after Cameron is another Etonian” is fanciful. Whoever becomes Conservative leader will be middle or working class. And maybe some who is a pre-Thatcher conservative.

    The dictionary definition of conservative is “someone who wants to preserve, Someone who wishes to preserve and moderate change”.

    We’ve had anything but preservation and conservation from the Cameron party. They’ve been ripping up education and health with gusto and trying to sell off forests and so on.

    Strangely it seems to be Ed Miliband’s party that is conservative with a small c (in sharp contrast to Blair). You can sum up Miliband’s policies with “We will preserve and prevent radical alteration to the NHS, the BBC, education and the EU”. If old institutions are defined by existing before you were born, then the NHS, BBC, NATO and the EU are heritage orgs.

    The next Conservative leader will try to snatch that conservatism back.

  6. The Social Democratic and Labour Party and Labour Party – hmm

  7. Pressman

    “His Thatcherite credentials are questionable though – he backs public investment and has spoken favourably of the living wage”

    The man is clearly a closet communist for taking those extreme left-wing positions – he probably wants to nationalise our wives and make all our children speak Russian too!

  8. @Candy

    “The idea that the public will say, “what we need after Cameron is another Etonian” is fanciful.”

    Does the Conservative Party pay any attention to what ‘the public’ wants?

    You raise an interesting question (even if you did not intend to do so) regarding the effect, if any, of DC’s Etonian background in stopping the Cons from winning an outright majority last time round. Has anyone done any research on that? And looking back to 1992, has anyone any ideas on whether it was John Major’s working class credentials which got him back to 10 Downing Street by the skin of his teeth, blocking a Labour victory?
    Ought the Tories to be looking to someone who speaks with a ‘regional accent’ (as did John Major) to succeed DC? Anyone for Pickles?

  9. @Candy

    And regarding ‘James I’, you presumably meant James VI, but as he was descended from James I it probably makes no difference.

  10. @spearmint

    You are quite right. I had failed to notice that these marginals were all held by conservatives. So it’s no news that the Lib Dems are not going to take any of them.

  11. Re: Howard and Steve (earlier today)

    Many folk in Bromley use public transport. In fact it’s a major suburban transport hub. Bromley South station is a main commuter hub for direct trains to London Victoria (15 minutes) and the City of London (about 40 minutes). Your arguments ring true far more outside the town centre (the borough is mainly rural and semi rural).

    Chislehurst station also has fast train links to Central London, and is chock full of commuters (albeit very affluent ones).

    Boris would have no trouble winning this constituency. He’s very popular here and his brother is the MP for the next door constituency of Orpington.

  12. @John B “And looking back to 1992, has anyone any ideas on whether it was John Major’s working class credentials which got him back to 10 Downing Street by the skin of his teeth, blocking a Labour victory?”

    This is just an anecdote, but my mother has vivid recollections of John Major being interviewed and being taunted about his father’s uselessness, to which he replied something like “We didn’t have much money but it was a loving family”. She felt he shouldn’t have been asked the question and it was disrespectful to taunt someone about their father. I think people in 1992 were very much conscious of John Major’s background and how he made something of himself against the odds.

    Did people identify with him as a result? Some people at any rate.

    I’d be surprised if anyone identifies with Cameron at all. He’s not “people like us” whether you come from a middle or working class background.

    That said, I’m not sure if people identify with Miliband either.

    I think they did identify with Blair – they didn’t look at him and see “privilege” they saw someone who’s father was a working class Glasweigian who left school at 16, and who skimped and saved to send his son to a public school – and there are a surprising amount of fairly ordinary people who make similarly aspirational decisions. I think Scots definitely identified with Brown but he was “too” Scottish for the English.

  13. CANDY

    Your post was a hoot-enjoyed it a lot :-)

  14. @John B – I should really have said Margaret Tudor who was the daughter of Henry VII and married into the Scottish royalty and from whom James the VI and I was descended.

    Cameron definitely has the Tudor look. Look at a picture of Henry VIII (Margaret’s brother) and then a full face picture of Cameron. The eyes and the mouth are the same. Here’s a younger picture of Henry to get you going

  15. “Anyone for Pickles?”

    Not for me ta.

  16. Martyn – “The rules were changed recently to allow a candidate to stand for more than one party at an election.”

    They weren’t, it’s been allowed for ages. The story about it being new was complete nonsense.

    What actually happened is that the Electoral Commission discovered a drafting error in the legislation allowing party symbols on ballot papers. It meant that parties using the existing law for joint party descriptions weren’t allowed to used a party logo. The error was discovered just before the 2010 election, meaning that those Labour candidates standing as joint candidates with the Co-Op party couldn’t legally use a party logo (with the result that several Lab/Co-Op MPs changed their party description and ran as just Labour candidates so they’d be allowed a logo.)

    The electoral commission recommended that the error was corrected, and the government passed legislation to do so. It resulted in lots of press stories about it being a cunning plan to allow joint Con/LD candidates at the next election.

  17. Colin – which one?

  18. @Candy

    I don’t think bring a member of the aristocracy, upper or very upper-middle classes adversely affects someone’s chances of becoming PM. I would say the reverse is true. The English in particular are a very deferential society. Historically at least. In fact a large portion of the Houses of Parliament are at the very least upper-middle class.

    David Cameron’s problem is that he is perceived to favour his own social class. Harriet Harman, probably to closest Labour class equivalent to DC, is not perceived in the same way. Nor was Tony Benn. Or, say Asquith.

  19. “Unfortunately the Unionist UK parties denied us Scottish residents a vote on devo max (which of course would then have to have been negotiated with rUK)”

    While undeniably factually correct, it was an untenable referendum question to pose.

    The way to handle devolution is to gradually negotiate it, gradually increase it, and the point at which the two sides cannot find any further common ground and Scotland’s wishes seem to differ from rUK’s is the point at which it is appropriate to consider an in/out referendum.

    Had that question been asked, it would have been seen (probably but not certainly incorrectly) by the rest of the union as the Scottish believing that a majority of their 9% of the UK population having a democratic right to insist upon remaining within the Union on terms so financially favourable as to override the mutual benefits of the union for the other 91%, in which case they should be seeking full independence.

    A narrow No should in practise have the same effect as clear support for the hypothetical third option/second question, because in fairness to the SNP they are not arguing for hand outs (although they will of course try to negotiate the best deal available for their people, as any government of any colour at any level should do), they are arguing for maximum self determination. The knock-on effect of a narrow No would not go as far as they believe is necessary, but would nonetheless lead to an increased level of self determination compared to what was on offer before the referendum was called.

  20. @ChrisHornet

    I suppose the inevitable question following your post is this: had the UK government offered AS Devo Max (without a referendum), would AS have considered an independence referendum to be necessary?

  21. @Candy

    So DC is Welsh – is that what you’re saying?
    Presumably he has some Scottish blood in him, otherwise whence the surname?

    The Tudor-Stewart marriage had some interesting outcomes, not the least of which was James V’s refusal to do as his Uncle Henry wanted and the decision to marry into French royalty. Had Henry of England kept his mouth shut it might have better all round….

    Of course, even without James IV marrying Margaret Tudor, his great-grandson would have been heir to the English throne via Darnley – though had James IV not married Margaret Tudor there is no knowing how things would have turned out.

  22. 7pm Candy

  23. @John B

    Did Henry Tudor have much Welsh blood in him? I understood he favoured his mother who was a Lancastrian from a line under an attainder (so by rights shouldn’t have got the throne).

    I wonder what things would have been like if Richard III had won his battle. The Irish liked him, the north liked him, and he probably would have had good relations with Scotland too but the nations would not have joined up…

  24. @RAF and Chris Hornet

    UK government was never going to allow either AS or the Scottish electorate the option of voting for an undefined Devo-Max. On the other hand, AS had his hands tied by the manifesto commitment and the (unexpected) majority in Holyrood.

    Of course, a Devo-Max question would have been quite possible. First Question – Independence Yes or No.
    Second Question – If ‘No’ what about Devo-Max?

    Where I disagree with CH is the assertion regarding ‘financially favourable terms’. People tend to forget that whilst the City of London subsidises everybody else in the UK, Scotland subsidises most of England and all of Wales and Northern Ireland. That is to say, the treasury has consistently gained more from Scotland over the past forty years than it has ‘given back’ to Scotland. It’s just that it gives less to other parts of the UK. Were Scotland to have full control of its own finances within a federal UK it would be even better off than it now is.
    At least, that’s how I understand the situation. If others know better I’d be grateful for specific indications of where to find alternative information on the subject.

  25. @Colin – you’re upset that someone has pointed out that Cameron’s party no longer conserves and preserves?

    You need to rethink. A big chunk of the movement from the Tories to UKIP is down to this (Ukipers not only want to preserve and conserve but turn the clock back to 1951). Radicalism and conservatism are oxymorons.

    Meanwhile Ed Miliband is picking up votes from those who want to “Save our NHS” and “Save our BBC” all of which are about conserving heritage orgs which are considered to be national treasures.

  26. @Chrishornet

    Difficult to see how Scotland raising its own finance and then paying a contribution to remaining joint UK costs would be so disadvantageous to rUK.

  27. @Candy

    There’s no way of knowing if Richard III of England might not have arranged for a marriage of one his children (had he had any) with the Stewarts. As for the Tudors, although Henry VII of England’s mother was a Lancastrian Plantagenet, was his Tudor father not of Welsh descent?

    History is full of ‘What if?’s. Good for exercising the imagination, but probably not what AW wants us to do on his website!!

  28. @John B Richard III’s only son died, so he made his nephew his heir (whom Henry VII prompty killed).

    There might have been marriages with the Stuarts but the joining of the kingdoms only occurred because there was no male descendant in the Tudor line (Elizabeth having been childless).

    If Richard had lived and not had any children, the nephew would have taken the throne, with a large count of other Plantagenet nephews in reserve. So the two kingdoms would have remained separated (unless one launched an invasion of the other).

    But you are right, we should stop the what-ifs for fear of boring the board.

  29. @John B

    But does Devo Max require a referendum? Is it not merely an extension of currently devolved powers? In federal states, it is common to have a statute of autonomy negotiated between the federal and state entities, that agrees the level of autonomy for the state. This does not require referenda.

  30. I suppose the inevitable question following your post is this: had the UK government offered AS Devo Max (without a referendum), would AS have considered an independence referendum to be necessary?

    Certainly. He is not a unionist arguing for full autonomy, he is a nationalist, and as a nationalist first minister in a majority administration it was inconceivable that he wouldn’t try to hold an independence referendum.

    Whatever you think of his politics, or about specific issues relating to independence, his party’s constitutional position has always been crystal clear: that they will always support increased home rule for Scotland if the alternative is the status quo, but that independence is the ultimate aim.

  31. “@Chrishornet

    Difficult to see how Scotland raising its own finance and then paying a contribution to remaining joint UK costs would be so disadvantageous to rUK.”

    I didn’t say it would be (indeed, I made crystal clear in brackets that this probably albeit not certainly wouldn’t be the case). I said that if it were a referendum it would almost certainly be perceived as such.

  32. @CH

    Yes, regarding the gradualist approach. And I apologise for mis-reading your input of 8.27. We are, I think, in agreement.

    The problem with the gradualist approach imo is, however, that it runs the risk of increasing friction on three levels:

    1. Scotland might start to insist on having powers which potentially ran counter to London’s understanding of ‘UK’ needs. E.g. Faslane: were Holyrood to insist on 100% control of planning laws, even if it means going against the wishes of the MoD, then Trident will be looking for a new home even were Scotland still to be in the UK;
    2. the unresolved problem of how to ‘devolve’ powers within England, when ‘regional’ government is non-existent (expect, arguably, in Greater London), for there is already a certain amount of discontent in England about perceived inequalities of powers; which leads us on to
    3. the West Lothian Question: still unresolved regarding the powers of Scottish M.P.s within the UK Parliament.

    This will all require tricky handling skills.

    And unfortunately the only attempts to do anything similar in the past (e.g. Austro-Hungary) all came crashing down during the First World War.

  33. @candy

    Henry Tudor`s grandfather was Welsh and his grandmother French (Catherine of Valois , widow of Henry V) His claim to the throne came from his mother’s descent from John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and the children of his mistress and then wife Katherine Swynford (the children were originally illegitimate but became legitimate when the Pope regularised the relationship).

  34. Nukes would be a nimby issue wherever they were, and in fairness to Scots regional devolution is an internal matter for the English to work out.

    The West Lothian question is the tricky one, primarily because the greater the level of autonomy of the Scottish government within the UK, the fewer ministerial and cabinet positions it is tenable for a Scottish MP from a major party to hold (a subtly different position from Northern Ireland, because in that case none of the MPs belong to a large party).

  35. The West Lothian question is a mirage. All MPs vote on all matters that come under the scope of the UK parliament – other than those matters that MPs have voted to devolve to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and NI Assembly.

  36. @RAF

    In theory, nothing ‘requires’ a referendum in the UK. That said, a referendum might have been held in order to decide on whether to keep the status quo or go for a well-defined Devo Max.

    The problem for Devo-max is that the big three parties in Westminster refuse point blank to sit down together and put forward a united proposal which would be put into effect (if agreed in a referendum) no matter who was in power in Westminster.

    (Technically ‘power’ resides in Whitehall, I suppose, but you know what I mean!)

  37. @Landocakes

    That’s one way of dealing with the issue. However, it doesn’t seem fair to folk in the south that Scots MPs can vote on things which apply only to England when English MPs cannot do the same in reverse. There is a distinct lack of balance.

    Of course (tongue in cheek) it might be argued that the English are fortunate to have the input of such magisterial wisdom as comes from north of the border; but I doubt if too many see it like that!

  38. candy

    I am a huge fan of Richard III so carry on all you like.

    Anthony and I are best mates so I will ok it with him no bother.


    I don’t think a “hoot” is a compliment by the way……

  39. Hireton – There was an attainder on the line of Margaret Beaufort (Henry VII’s mother)

    Which meant Henry VII had no right to the throne other than the right of conquest.

    He then tried to remedy this by marrying Elizabeth of York (but if the marriage of her parents Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodvill was bigamous as alleged by Edward’s brothers George and Richard, then that didn’t give him the right to the throne either).

    So the Tudors, the Stuarts and all who came after are there because of the Battle of Bosworth and the right of conquest and not any blood line going back to William I and Alfred the Great.

    Which is why the Windsors have made no public comment about the finding of Richard III’s skeleton and he won’t get a state funeral (unlike Margaret Thatcher!) because the line of usurpers don’t want to acknowledge him.

  40. @CH

    For many people the nukes is not a ‘nimby’ issue, but one of fundamental morality (and legality as well, come to that, seeing that a ‘first strike’ nuclear option, which is the UK’s position, is illegal under international law.)

  41. @Candy

    Am I not right in thinking that Henry VII had the date of his accession to the throne moved backwards a day to make all those who fought against him ‘traitors’, even though at the time Richard III was still king?

    And what happened to all those Plantagenet nephews you referred to? Did they go the way of the princes in the tower?

  42. @ Ann in Wales,

    Aw, “Ann in Devon” just wouldn’t be the same. Although “Ann in Adlestrop” has quite a ring to it.

    @ Pressman,

    What about Tom Watson? He’s definitely a character, “you” should love him!

    I think a living wage policy might help get the Kippers back. They’re clamouring to renationalise the railways; they’re less Thatcherite than Ed Miliband.

    Paula A,

    The man is clearly a closet communist for taking those extreme left-wing positions

    Well, he is named Boris after all.

  43. John B,

    Yes indeed.

    Devolution is a matter for the UK as a whole, as the consequences affect all parts. So it can’t be settled by a referendum in Scotland unless there is a settled proposal that the UK as a whole has already agreed to.

  44. @Candy

    Of course, the Stewarts (however you choose to spell them) would just have continued to rule little old Scotland – probably with as much pomp and circumstance and benefit to tourism as the Norwegian or Dutch monarchies.

  45. Fair point John B: let me perhaps rephrase that.

    For as long as the UK has nuclear weapons, they will be located somewhere within the UK. Even taking into account the jobs boost I suspect there are 650 constituencies which would prefer not to have them.

    As for the issue itself, even if you take morals out of the equation my confusion is why we need an independent deterrent having been joined at the hip for over 70 years to the only country ever to have used nukes in warfare. But that’s beyond the scope of this thread.

  46. @john b There are some matters that MPs can no longer vote on, true. English MPs can’t vote on Scottish education issues, for example. But neither can Scottish MPs. The WLQ might have been better phrased as ‘why can’t Scottish, Welsh, NI and English MPs vote on devolved matters ?’ The answer then becomes obvious – because they have chosen to devolve those matters to other legislative bodies.

    The original WLQ is a misleading ‘sleight of mouth’.

  47. @candy

    You place too much emphasis on attainders etc Henry`s claim was not much less weak than the Yorkists he deposed. In practice the throne belonged to whoever had some claim to it but more importantly the power to seize and retain it. Henry`s marriage alliance with the Woodvilles was simply an extension of power through other means.

  48. @Hal

    Except, of course, that the rest of the UK has the idea that sovereignty rests with ‘the crown in parliament’, so whatever parliament decides is ‘the will of the people’ by default. The only way to change that is to adopt the Scottish legal situation whereby sovereignty rest with the people. ……

    That said, the rights of parliament regarding Scotland are clearly stated in the Treaty and Act of Union 1707 and this allows for Scotland to have its own laws for the things that apply to Scotland. So under the Treaty of Union, Parliament has every right to devolve as much power as it likes to Scotland without having to do anything analogous for England and its regions.

  49. @Landocakes

    I see your point. Surely, though, you’re not accusing the grand old man from the House of Binns of being ‘less than honest’ are you?

  50. John B,

    Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. The UK parliament has to agree a definite proposal on devolution with all detail first, before any referendum in Scotland.

    There’s no question of asking “should Scotland have more devolution” in a referendum first and then working out how to implement it afterwards. So it is quite unlike the independence issue.

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