1. ITV Report

Salmond and Darling spar in heated TV debate

Yes campaign leader Alex Salmond and Better Together leader Alistair Darling smiled before the Glasgow debate but both went on the attack. Photo: Devlin Photo Ltd/PA Wire

Campaign rivals Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling have locked horns in a feisty televised debate on Scottish independence.

First Minister Salmond and former chancellor Darling both traded personal blows as they outlined their vision of Scotland's future in or out of the union ahead of the September 18 vote.

A poll conducted by ICM for the Guardian gave Better Together leader Darling victory, with 56% of those polled supporting him over Yes leader Salmond off the back of his debate performance.

ITV News Scotland Correspondent Debi Edward reports from Glasgow:

The two politicians sparred on the effect of independence on Scotland's economy, currency and place in the European Union along with individual policies like pensions and immigration.

ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports on the response of five undecided voters who witnessed Mr Salmond and Mr Darling go head to head in the most significant debate in the campaign so far.

The Yes campaign received a boost as the two men prepared to begin the debate, with a new Ipsos MORI poll for STV News showing a 4% rise in support of definite voters since June.

The poll results, though, still showed the No campaign leading 54% to 40% among those who said they were "certain to vote" at next month's referendum - putting pressure on Mr Salmond to bridge the gap with a strong debate performance.

One of the sharpest exchanges of the evening came as Mr Darling pushed his rival for his "plan B" if Scotland doesn't get to keep the pound upon leaving the union.

Alistair Darling attacked Alex Salmond over his plan for the Scottish currency if it cannot retain the pound. Credit: STV

Unhappy with his first answer in which Mr Salmond attempted to quote his opponent, the former chancellor asked the SNP leader to "contemplate for just one minute that you might be wrong".

Mr Salmond refused to contemplate the loss of the pound as he raised his voice to be heard above shouts from the audience.

Mr Salmond later repeatedly pushed Mr Darling to give a simple answer as he quizzed him more than 20 times if he agreed with a statement David Cameron made that Scotland can be a "successful independent country".

Alex Salmond pushed Alistair Darling to confirm or deny that Scotland could make a success of breaking away from the union. Credit: STV

Mr Salmond told Mr Darling all he needed to give was a "yes" or "no" answer to his question as his opponent repeatedly attempted to expand on his initial response, but Mr Darling refused to give him the word he wanted.

There are now just over six weeks to go until voters in Scotland decide whether to remain in the UK or become an independent nation.

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