Scotland's pro-independence leader Alex Salmond emphatically won a final televised debate Monday, but it was not clear if his performance would be enough to achieve victory in next month’s historic referendum on whether to split from Britain. The first minister triumphed in a series of ill-tempered clashes with Alistair Darling, the leader of the Better Together anti-independence movement. “It’s our time, let’s seize it with both hands,” Salmond told the Glasgow audience.
A snap Guardian/ICM poll after the debate found that 71 percent of more than 500 respondents judged that Salmond had won, against 29 percent who backed Darling. However, polling expert John Curtice, a professor at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University, questioned whether it would be enough to sway voters. ICM said its early findings suggested the debate “did not influence how people say they will vote in the referendum.” Recent polls have narrowed the gap between the two sides, but the most recent "poll of polls" on Aug. 15, excluding undecided respondents, found support for ending Scotland’s 307-year union with England and Wales stands at 43 percent -- compared to 57 percent for remaining in the United Kingdom.
- Alastair Jamieson