Public massively in favour of Salmond v Cameron referendum head to head


  By G.A.Ponsonby
Over two thirds of the Scottish public want to see an independence debate between Scotland’s First Minister and the UK Prime Minister according to a newly released poll.
The survey, carried out by You-Gov, asked respondents – Do you think that David Cameron should or should not take part in a TV debate with Alex Salmond?

The result showed that 67% believed the leaders of the UK and Scottish government’s should take part, with only 19% against such a debate and 13% who said they didn’t know.

The survey result was seized on by the SNP with Depute leader Nicola Sturgeon saying Mr Cameron had a duty to debate in public with his Scottish government counterpart.

Responding to the poll, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The people of Scotland have demanded the Prime Minister accepts the challenge and faces Alex Salmond in a head-to-head debate.

“David Cameron has a duty as the most senior politician in the anti-independence movement to come forward and stop hiding from this challenge.

“It would offer an opportunity for him to tell the people of Scotland why Westminster insists on wasting billions of pounds on unwanted Trident weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde, whilst imposing unfair measures such as the bedroom tax.

“Only a Yes vote on 18th September 2014 will enable us to invest our abundant resources in building the fairer and more prosperous Scotland that we all want to see.”

Mr Salmond appeared to relish the prospect of a debate between himself and the Conservative leader, adding:

“The reality is the No Campaign is Tory and Westminster-led and therefore people would expect to see a debate between myself and the Prime Minister.

“It would offer a valuable opportunity for him to tell us why he and his Labour colleagues believe it is wise to spend billions of pounds on unwanted weapons of mass destruction on Scotland’s shores whilst his Government impose draconian measures such as the bedroom tax.

“It’s becoming clearer with each passing day the only way to avoid such ill-thought measures is by equipping the Scottish Parliament with the powers to chart a better way for Scotland — one that reflects our values and ambition.”

Calls for such a debate have thus far been rejected by Downing Street with the Prime Minister appearing to shy away from the challenge.  A recent statement from Number 10 insisted that Labour MP Alistair Darling could take the place of the Prime Minister.

Blair McDougall, the director of anti-independence campaign Better Together has claimed that calls for a Salmond/Cameron debate were merely a nationalist ploy to turn the debate into a “Scotland v England” affair and called on the First Minister to debate with Alistair Darling because the Labour MP is a Scot.

The Better Together front man has also claimed that the UK PM should not take part in the debate because he does not have a vote in the referendum.

Tweeting earlier this month, Mr McDougall said of requests for a Cameron/Salmond debate: “this is a decision for us as Scots. Why debate someone without a vote?”  It followed a similar tweet where he said: “DC [David Cameron] doesn’t have a vote. This is for Scots to decide.”

However pressure is building for a head to head between the respective leaders of the governing parties with STV’s political editor Bernard Ponsonby this week forecasting that public demands, as the referendum date nears, would eventually force Mr Cameron to debate with Mr Salmond.

This week the date of the independence referendum was finally announced.  In what was a surprise to many observers and commentators, the Scottish government has said the date for the historic ballot will be 18th September 2014.