Scotland decides, the big debate. In the left corner was Alastair Darling, a man obviously used to being left alone in corners, and in the other was Alex Salmond – a man even Simon Cowell could call “smug”. A nation stood ready to finally choose which of these two men had repelled them the least. But before all that, the audience in this room still had important questions. Namely, “How the hell do we get out of this room?”
As the twosome took to the stage and the crowd fell silent, the moment felt truly titanic, in the sense that both men looked like they had just been hit by gigantic icebergs, and they were now about to go down with their ships. Actually, “ships” isn’t the first word that immediately springs to mind when looking at these two politicians, although it does sound very similar.
It took no time at all for both leaders to quickly lay out all their favourite issues. It was an impressive sight – I’d never seen that many copies of Rolling Stone in one place before. After that, they decided to talk about politics. Well, they didn’t so much talk as yell. If they’d done this debate on Buchanan Street, they’d have picked up an ASBO. Or, at the very least, chips and cheese, so they’d probably be a damn sight happier.
At times it was like watching both of The Proclaimers brothers on stage, each simultaneously screaming a cappella versions of two completely different songs. The only difference being people actually like The Proclaimers. I was constantly reminded of 500 Miles throughout the debate, as that’s the exact distance I’d happily travel without hesitation just to avoid listening to either man talk again.
Both leaders had two different styles of delivering their message. Darling stood behind his lectern like a haunted version of Beaker from the Muppets being fisted by an aggressive puppeteer, while Salmond laughably strode forward rubbing his hands together and addressing audience members like he was trying to sell them out-of-date tomatoes from a depressing market stall.
The first issue raised was the currency question, with Darling asking Salmond for his Plan B if the rest of the UK refused a currency union. Salmond said he was giving “three Plan Bs for the price of one.” It's always nice when economic stability is compared to a temporary buy one get one free offer at Greggs. In fairness, whenever I hear Alex Salmond’s economic policies, I always think BOGOF as well.
The currency topic raged on, and eventually Salmond concluded that he wanted a man date from the people of Scotland. Well, if he will exhaust all his matches on Tinder so quickly, I suppose that’s a novel alternative. Perhaps he could take Alistair Darling on his man date. It would be fine until the bill came, and then the First Minister would refuse to say what currency he was going to use.
Next up was oil, and Darling said it was dangerous to be so dependent on something so volatile, something any passenger who has got into a car with George Michael at the wheel can relate to. Buying weapons was then discussed. But as it was a bank holiday, they agreed most weapon shops would be closed by now – so they just carried on shouting at each other instead.
Both men then had the opportunity to cross-examine each other, with a real emphasis on cross. Darling once again took the opportunity to grill Salmond on Plan B, but disappointingly he didn’t know any of his albums. During one heated exchange, Darling called on Salmond to stop playing games. But by that point, the horse had bolted and he had already cried “Buckeroo”, so it was probably too late.
Eventually, they talked about life after the vote. Darling conceded that he’d accept the result whatever happens, generously accepting the rules of living in a democracy instead of announcing that he'd murder anybody who got in his way. Salmond said he was confident that the people of Scotland would make the right decision on September 18. But failing that, he hoped they would vote yes instead.
It was soon time for them to give their final thoughts. Although after 90-minutes, that was still 87-minutes not soon enough. Salmond said the Unionists had nothing positive to say, but Darling said he disagreed with that. Darling, on the other hand, accused Salmond of trying to scare Scottish voters. It was a claim the First Minister strongly refuted, although it was hard to hear him underneath that Halloween mask. Well, I presume he was wearing a Halloween mask!
After the debate, the Guardian published a snap poll, but even after such a long debate, still nobody was willing to step forward and snap both their necks. There then followed a MORI poll, but again they couldn’t find a single person who wanted to listen to any MORI. Most of the early polls gave victory to Alex Salmond, so he’ll be back next week to sing off against Alexandra Burke and Olly Murs!
Although if it’s anything like these debates, that’ll definitely end up in DEADLOCK…
Simon Ward (@simonjward)