By a Newset reporter
Most people people in the United Kingdom believe that Prime Minister David Cameron should take part in a televised independence debate with First Minister Alex Salmond, according to a new poll.
Conducted by Panelbase on behalf of the SNP, the survey revealed a majority of people in Scotland and across the rest of the UK backed the idea of a televised contest between the two leaders.

The polling was conducted from 13th to 20th December, among a representative sample of 1,012 people in Scotland, and 1,011 people in the rest of the UK.

The survey asked participants – “Do you think that there should be a televised referendum debate between Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond to argue the case for an independent Scotland, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron to argue the case for the UK?”

The result from the rest of the UK showed 56% backed the TV debate with 24% against the idea, and 19% saying they didn’t know.

Among people in the rest of the UK who voted Tory in the 2010 Westminster General Election, 57% want a Salmond/Cameron debate with 34% against.  The figures for Labour voters showed 65% in favour of a leaders’ debate with 18% against; and 65% of Lib Dem voters backed a TV debate with 22% against.

The Scottish survey showed even greater support for a Salmond/Cameron debate with nearly two thirds (63%) in favour and 25% against.  11% said they didn’t know.

Among people who voted in the Scottish Parliament constituency vote in 2011 only the Conservative voters were against the idea.

Amongst those who voted Labour in 2011, 57% want a Salmond/Cameron debate with 27% against; 50% of Lib Dem voters want such a debate with 38% against; 79% of SNP voters want a debate with 15% against.  Tory voters were against by 54% to 35%.

Welcoming the figures, the Deputy First Minister and SNP Depute Leader Nicola Sturgeon called on David Cameron to show some courage and debate with the First Minister.

“These figures demonstrate that there are decisive majorities in Scotland, and among people in the rest of the UK, for a televised referendum debate between Alex Salmond and David Cameron.

“In Scotland, most Labour, SNP and Lib Dem voters want a debate between the First Minster and Prime Minister; and in the rest of the UK they are joined by a clear majority of David Cameron’s own Tory voters, as well as Labour and Lib Dem supporters.

“Yet while David Cameron is happy to pull the strings of the No campaign from 10 Downing Street, he is scared to debate Alex Salmond face-to-face.  As the leading politician seeking a No vote, Mr Cameron has to find his courage in referendum year.”

The survey results will increase pressure on the UK Prime Minister to accept repeated challenges from Mr Salmond to debate Scottish independence.  Mr Cameron has resisted the idea of a debate with his SNP counterpart and has instead argued that the debate is for the people of Scotland and that Labour MP Alistair Darling should take his place.

However nationalists have insisted that far from leaving the debate to Scots, the Tory leader and his ministers are already playing an active part in the independence debate, but were hiding from scrutiny.

Pointing to the UK Prime Minister’s decision to employ an army of Whitehall civil servants in order to provide ammunition attacking independence, Nicola Sturgeon added:

“David Cameron’s government has boasted that ‘Whitehall’s full intellectual might’ is engaged in trying to achieve a No vote in the referendum, with the Treasury spearheading a ‘co-ordinated push’ – resulting in 13 reports being produced across UK government departments to support the No campaign.

“It is abundantly clear that the No campaign is Tory-led and Westminster-led – a fact further underlined by the Prime Minister’s New Year message.

“Therefore, as the principal signatories of the Edinburgh Agreement, the natural progression in these circumstances is a televised, head-to-head debate between Mr Cameron and Alex Salmond – a democratic position supported by a substantial majority of people north and south of the border.

“It is not possible, with any degree of consistency or credibility, for the Prime Minister to involve himself and his government so centrally in the referendum process, and then refuse to publicly debate these very issues.

“David Cameron’s government has changed its mind on many matters since coming to office – this New Year is the time for him to change his mind on facing Alex Salmond in a TV debate.”


2014-01-05 00:50

come on Cameron. Grow a pair. Would be a great watch 🙂

PS: sorry to be off-topic here, but does anybody know where I can find a poll on how many Scots want a referendum? I remember reading that 70%+ of Scots if not more agreed there should be a referendum but can’t seem to find the poll anywhere.

2014-01-05 01:17

The full might of Whitehall’s intellectual army of civil servants have so far produced not one, but 13 reports across government departments to support the NO campaign – yet we have not heard a single peep of freshness from Alistair Darling, who more and more, dejectedly, regurgitates the old tired mantras.

So, who’s paying for this intellectual input from this veritable army of civil servants?

All of the UK tax-paying populous is surely paying. Can this be right? Over to you Electoral Commission?
2014-01-05 02:01

I don’t know what Cameron is so frightened of since its Alex Salmond he would be debating with not Nicola! As to the amount of work put in by Whitehall and paid for by all tax payers, they certainly haven’t produced much in the way of value for money. I still haven’t seen anything that remotely answers the question why we are better thegither.
2014-01-05 09:50

I’m not convinced that Cameron is actually afraid, but there can be little doubt the Tories are acutely aware that opening their mouths in Scotland, or even about Scotland, whatever they say won’t be well received and will be counter productive.

I don’t think it’s fear, but that they genuinely don’t know how to handle these issues. They can bluster and blow about Scotland down in Westminster, but week after week, the Scottish issues just don’t go away.

The Tories want the license to take on UKIP with the gloves off, but again, they are flummoxed by Scotland and Scottish hostility towards UKIP. Pander to UKIP, and forfeit Scotland? Once again, Scotland demands a different solution diametrically opposed to the South of England.

A greater leader than Cameron would never have got himself in this position, but then, a greater leader than Cameron might recognise the Union is dead in the water.
2014-01-05 10:12

Breeks, I think you are right when you say Cameron probably isn’t frightened about debating with Alex Salmond, at least not while he’s safe in the Westminster bubble. Up here its probably a bit more daunting for him because as a Tory he knows he’s not really starting from poll position in the eyes of Scottish viewers and every word and gesture will be analysed and pulled apart. The Tories also know that they are still as toxic as they were in 1997 when they suffered total electoral wipeout and since then have done nothing to address that issue. We are just not a priority for them and so they are now left with the pathetic excuse of Alastair Darling being the person to debate with AS. Rock and a hard place just about covers it.
2014-01-05 11:28

And let us not forget that Darling was appointed to his position by Cameron.
Cameron,the leader of a government that Scots did not elect which gives Cameron no democratic mandate in Scotland.
The only democratic mandate that Darling has is as the representative of his constituents (which is not the whole of Scotland despite what he may think).
So here we have a situation which reflects Scotland’s current constitutional position.
A Yes campaign,democr  atically approved by Scots versus the No campaign which represents imperial rule from London.
These would be the parameters for any debate between Salmond and Cameron,which is yet another reason why it won’t happen.
The No campaign can only justify it’s position,democr  atically,by producing poll data which says that,on this issue,the majority of Scots agree with them.

2014-01-05 11:32

Breeks – to say ‘afraid to debate’ is probably not too far off the mark. It’s a silly man who’ll enter into debate with no position to posit and Cameron has enough ‘smarts’ to stay a mile away from that kind of difficulty. But it speaks volumes about the strength of the UK argument.

There is neither economic nor political justification for Scotland remaining part of the union. Any ‘open’ debate will show this with bells-on, but thanks to BBC and STV stage managed 4-1 debates this has been drowned out.

A Cameron v Salmond, 1-1 debate will be in the spotlight, as Moore and Carmichael have already experienced with Nicola Sturgeon, so it won’t ever happen!

Edna Caine
2014-01-05 11:59

Interesting difference between the RUK Tories and the Scots Tories.

RUK – for a debate 57%; against 34%
Scotland – for a debate 35%; against 54%

The Scots Tories have more experience of Mr Salmond’s debating skills and know that Dave will get ripped to pieces.
2014-01-05 12:02

I agree David Cameron should debate with Alex Salmond. As Nicola points out, they are the principal signatories of the Edinburgh Agreement. Also, the NO Campaign is funded by the Tories and their rich supporters who donate huge sums both to them and their campaign.

Darling should debate either with Dennis Canavan or Blair Jenkins, or how about with Nicola Sturgeon? One of whichever of these three Darling avoids, could see off Blair McDoughball. Sorted!
2014-01-06 12:50

I doubt if DC would even consider a match with Nicola but wouldn’t it be a delight to see her surgically take him apart…!

2014-01-05 12:33

Tories Toxic brand in Scotland,I think they will be more so now with the release of the 30 year papers that show Maggie wanted to cut the Scottish budget,no mention of this in the likes of the Sunday Post which I fear is more anti SNP now.
Did anyone else see Mcgregor being asked if they were to close 70 pits answer no a blatant lie so why should we trust what any Unionist has to say.
2014-01-05 15:18

Yes,of course Cameron should debate with Alex Salmond,no question of it. The more the public calls for it, the more Cameron will be put in a corner, he just does not know what to do. So he bottles it, with the fear of being ridiculed after a beating.

However, let us not forget that the Tories are not really our main enemy here, it is the labour party. We now know that their deceit against Scotland goes way back, pre war2. They are all now one voice and together subvert Scotland’s needs at every turn.

It is to Labour we really need to focus our attention. Not least to appeal to their ever disgruntled voters here, who have right to be very angry as the party is Tories Mark2.
2014-01-05 21:33

A question which every political leader in Scotland must answer at national and local level:

What are you prepared to thole for twenty years: a Tory led government in Westminster or a Labour government in an independent Scotland?
willie boy
2014-01-05 21:50

Cameron will not debate the issue of independence with Salmond

Scotland is a ” no go ” area for PM Cameron, and his refusual to debate with Salmond all too clearly reinforces the fact that he is in truth not the Prime Minister of Scotland.

As for yesterday’s man, the failed Alistair Darling, he is nothing more than the this PM’s body shield and glove puppet.
2014-01-05 23:08

Let’s just accept that Salmond v Cameron is an impossible, or highly improbable eventuality. However, a set-to with Darling would still be well worth seeing and would allow an opportunity to deal BT quite a blow. Darling is a poor or average debater at best, and an hour of his dour fearmongering would surely be enough to convert some don’t know’s over to the YES cause.

There is political mileage in pushing this issue, but only so far. Salmond can’t be invisible, as it is mostly Sturgeon who has taken the debating lead. Whilst this is good succession planning etc. it is Salmond that will deliver a YES victory, and there comes a point where there is more to be gained from dominating whoever BT put up in a live debate, than sitting intransigently on his moral high ground demanding only to debate with his equal, David Cameron.

Salmond must take on all-comers in the following year.
Adrian B
2014-01-06 02:59

Nicola will continue to do most of these TV debates. I am not convinced that we will see much of Salmond.

Darling is simply not on Salmonds level – leave Darling for the public to debate with. Most of us could run rings around him as he goes into his silly spiralling doom laden SNP/Alex Salmond bad act.

Did anyone notice just how snappy Cameron was about debating with Salmond – he does not like the press mentioning it. 😉

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