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The First Minister fared

The First Minister fared better after repeatedly challenging Mr Darling to say whether he thought Scotland could be a successful independent country, with his opponent being jeered when he refused to give a straight yes or no response.

Earlier in the debate, the First Minister used his opening remarks to woo traditional Labour voters by promising a fairer society and forcing Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent to leave Scotland.

He said there were 35 food banks within ten miles of the debate venue in Glasgow and Scotland had been ruled by Westminster governments it had not elected for more than half his life.

But, in a quip that visibly riled Mr Salmond, Mr Darling said he had not voted for the SNP leader but was “stuck with him”. The First Minister incorrectly claimed a majority of Scots voted for his party at the 2011 Holyrood elections.

The former Chancellor argued the best way for Scotland to prosper was within the United Kingdom as it gives unhindered access to a UK-wide economic market. He said devolution gave Scotland “the best of both worlds” with the promise of more economic powers if there is a No vote.

Mr Salmond was questioned over a report by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies that said a separate Scotland faced an extra £6 billion of cuts but he claimed the think tank’s economists are wrong because they had underestimated the value of North Sea oil.

But Mr Darling retorted that the Scottish Government had repeatedly overestimated its value and had recently downgraded its estimates by £4.5 billion, enough to pay for the entire education system.

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