Salmond vs Darling: The verdict on the first debate on Scottish independence

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together leader Alistair Darling at the debate. Credit: PA Wire

It's all over, bar the spinning.

And the spinning had already begun.

The first debate between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond had barely finished when their respective teams went into battle.

Salmond was the clear winner, his supporters said. Darling was the clear winner, his team maintained.

No surprises there then.

So how did the main players sum up their case?

Credit: PA Wire

Mr Darling said he was optimistic about Scotland and that with devolution it can have the "best of both worlds".

He attacked the SNP saying their independence was based on "guesswork, blind faith and crossed fingers".

Mr Salmond said a 'Yes' vote was a vote for "ambition over fear".

The First Minister concluded: "This is our moment, let's take it."

Credit: PA Wire

During the debate the claim that Alistair Darling should "bore for Britain" turned to be wrong. He was feisty and passionate.

Alex Salmond was more measured, perhaps having been advised that he should be.

And their exchanges when they cross-examined each other were revealing.

Mr Salmond was under pressure when asked what his alternative to his plan for an independent Scotland to be in a Sterling currency zone.

Mr Darling found it difficult to answer the question on whether he agreed with David Cameron that Scotland could be a "successful" country.

Credit: PA Wire

A snap poll for the Guardian by ICM last night had the No vote after the debate on 56%, with yes at 44%.

So, in those terms and those terms only, the No vote is ahead but it is not that much different from the average gap between Yes and No.

There is plenty more campaigning to go between now and referendum day on September 18.

And some more debate too.

Tonight's debate may have set the tone for the coming weeks, but we are a long way from the end of this campaign.

The verdict, in the end, will be for voters in Scotland.

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