Alex Salmond To Focus On NHS In Second Scottish Independence Debate

Published: August 24, 2014

Alex Salmond To Focus On NHS In Second Scottish Independence Debate, Both sides in the independence referendum campaign are gearing up for the second televised debate.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Better Together leader Alistair Darling go head-to-head on the BBC on Monday evening.

Labour’s Douglas Alexander said Mr Salmond goes into the debate with a “very difficult set of cards to play”.

A spokesman for the first minister said it was a chance to show why Scotland “can, should and must” be independent

The two leaders are expected to clash on issues including currency, the NHS and North Sea oil estimates following Sir Ian Wood’s claims that Scottish government figures were too high.

The leaders’ first live debate aired on STV on 5 August, with both sides claiming victory.

The second debate will be screened on BBC One Scotland and across the rest of the UK on BBC Two, from 20:30 on Monday.

The 90-minute event will be staged at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow in front of an audience of 200 people selected by polling and research consultancy ComRes.

‘Basic question’
Ahead of the debate, shadow UK foreign secretary Mr Alexander, who is a key figure in the “No” campaign, said he expected the first minister to deliver a “strong performance”.

He said: “Alex Salmond is a formidable debater and a capable politician.

“I fully expect that he has been working hard and will put in a strong performance on Monday evening, but he is selling a product that Scotland doesn’t want to buy.”

Mr Alexander said the SNP would have wished to have resolved central issues surrounding the economic case for independence, and be able to focus on appealing to emotions in the final weeks.

He added: “For them to be in a position with just days to go until postal ballots drop where they cannot answer the most fundamental question in relation to what currency Scotland would use, when they cannot answer the most basic question in terms of the sustainability of health, education, pensions and public services on which we all rely, is genuinely not where they expected to be.”

‘More sustainable’
A spokesman for Alex Salmond said: “Douglas Alexander must inhabit a Westminster bubble where news from the real world doesn’t reach.

“An independent Scotland will keep the pound because it’s our currency too, and pensions and public services will be more sustainable after a ‘Yes’ vote because Scotland’s economy is stronger than the UK’s.

“It is Westminster’s cuts and privatisation of the NHS which threaten Scotland’s health service, which is precisely why we need a ‘Yes’ vote.

He added: “The last three polls all show significant swings to ‘Yes’ – with support as high as 48% – and we are looking forward to the debate as an opportunity to communicate the positive message why Scotland can, should, and must, have the powers of an independent country.”

Mr Salmond and Mr Darling are expected to clash on North Sea oil and gas figures
Oil and gas revenue figures are expected to be one of the main issues both leaders will focus on during the debate.

The figure of 24bn barrels is quoted in the Scottish government’s White Paper on independence as an estimate from industry body Oil and Gas UK.

However, oil expert Sir Ian has claimed there are about 15bn to 16.5bn barrels of recoverable oil left, and that the figure from the White Paper was 45% to 60% too high.

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