The Big Debate
The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, invited the Prime Minister of the UK, David Cameron, to a televised debate regarding the referendum on Scottish Independence. An invitation that has been offered time and time again throughout the campaign period in the lead up to 18th September. Time and time again, the invitation has been declined, and a political back bencher has been offered up, to debate The First Minister instead.
16th July 2014, Bernard Ponsonby will host the debate between Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, and Alistair Darling, Head of Better Together, in front of an audience of 500 yes, no and don't know voters, in the Assembly Rooms, televised for STV. Of course, the option to replace Mr Darling with himself, remains open to the Prime Minister.
We want and need the debate, but not this one. The First Minister should be debating the Prime Minister. The person to debate Alistair Darling should be Dennis Canavan, the head of Yes. That is an equal match. I find it rather insulting that David Cameron thinks that sending Darling, is a suitable replacement for himself.
David Cameron insisted at the start of the campaign that he would do everything within his power to keep the UK united. What that has turned out to be, is to try and get his pals to speak out on his behalf - although as to why, I am at a loss. Cameron repeatedly reminds us that he has no vote in the referendum, therefore he won't get directly involved. So why does asking Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, The Queen, Mariano Rajoy and Li Keqiang, none of whom have a vote, to voice 'their opinion' on his behalf, not count as getting directly involved??? How did that work out? Well, Putin told Andrew Marr :"‘It is not a matter for Russia, it is a domestic issue for the UK." Obama, while he expressed an opinion that he supported the union (in the best interests for the US), he did make it clear that this was a decision for Scotland to make. The Queen has twice declined invitations from Cameron to support the union, insisting that she must remain neutral in the debate. Rajoy took to telling Scotland he would block membership of the EU - he's got no opinion of Scotland or the UK, he's more worried about Catalonia and Spain. Keqiang is in no position to comment on another country's democratic choices when he has Tibet and highly questionable humanitarian 'issues' in his own country.
The British public (not just the Scottish public, according to reports) have come out to say they want the FM v PM debate, especially those of whom are still undecided. Plenty people still have unanswered questions, and would very much appreciate the Prime Minister of the UK answering these. If he wants to ensure that he has done everything in his power to ensure Scotland remains within the UK, then he has to take on Alex Salmond. Many people speculate that the reason that Darling is being rolled out for this, is because Cameron is scared. Salmond is a first class debater and would, basically, be all over Cameron like HP on a bacon roll, therefore, the PM doesn't want to lose face. Others, in defence of the Cameron, believe it is because he doesn't have the vote in the referendum, that it should be between 2 Scotsmen living in Scotland, 1 for and 1 against. In my opinion, I think the PM has lost face, by NOT debating and I don't think he is acting in the best interest of the UK. As the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (currently Scotland, England, N Ireland an Wales), if he wants to keep it united, he needs to stand up and fight for it, not via the mouths of others, but from his own. Talk to Scotland like he means it.
In the mean time, roll on 16th July, Game On!!