Salmond and Darling go head to head in second televised independence debate

Former chancellor said to be focusing on first minister’s claims about North Sea oil

Alistair Darling: was seen to have scored heavily on currency fears in the first debate but public opinion appears to have swung the other way on this issue. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Alistair Darling: was seen to have scored heavily on currency fears in the first debate but public opinion appears to have swung the other way on this issue. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Mon, Aug 25, 2014, 01:00

Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond will tonight face Labour’s Alistair Darling in a television debate that could have a significant influence on next month’s Scottish independence referendum.

In the first debate, Mr Salmond suffered a blow when he was caught out over the currency an independent Scotland would use.

For the BBC debate, the time Mr Salmond and Mr Darling have to question each other has been cut from 10 minutes to six.

Better Together, the pro-union campaign, insisted the cut had been made because the SNP wanted the time curbed – a charge the SNP said is untrue.

Though Mr Darling was seen to have scored heavily on currency fears, public opinion since then seems to believe London’s refusal to consider currency union is a bluff.

Mr Darling is said to be focusing on Mr Salmond’s much-contested claims about the reserves left in the North Sea. Mr Salmond will exploit former Labour first minister Jack McConnell’s declaration UK-wide funding rules that benefit Scotland will change if there is a No vote.