THE BLOG

Scottish Independence Debate: Both Sides Were More Confused Than Convinced

06/08/2014 09:41 BST | Updated 05/10/2014 10:59 BST

Hopes were high that last nights debate - featuring the leaders of the two sides in the Scottish referendum campaign - would shed some more light on the key issues and help clarify questions in the mind of voters - especially those as yet undecided.

Perhaps unsurprisingly that didn't happen and all we got was repeat of long held views and positions which was a little disappointing given the time both parties had to prepare. We did get a bit too much talking over each other and hectoring - not a style popular with me or I suspect most viewers or voters, when will they learn; though it did not degenerate into a slanging match as some similar debates have done in the past.

There was a lack of passion - though Mr Darling did reveal more than some thought he had and Mr Salmond was clearly trying to be cool and not appear arrogant or overbearing in lie with his public reputation.

There was also a noticeable lack of vision for the future of Scotland from either side and merely a rehearsal of old arguments which have been done to death over the recent months. We need something new and missionary especially in the area of the economy. Mr Darling even failed to say precisely what would be done in terms of further devolution in the event of a no vote, while Mr Salmond didn't set the heather alight with any engaging vision either.

The best of the questions came from the audience and their targeting of specifics around student fees and pensions brought some of the best debate. Earlier we had seen sticky issues for Mr Salmond on currency and Mr Darling on his failure to freely admit Scotland could be successful if independent - neither escaped these points unscathed.

On balance I think Mr Darling will be seen as performing better than expected while I suspect Mr Salmond's followers will be disappointed that his expected triumph did not materialise - though both live to fight another day, where both could do better. On tonight's performance Mr Darling I suspect will be relieved and Mr Salmond feeling he missed some opportunities.

I doubt if the points raised or the answers given would sway any undecided voters nor have the newly enfranchised young voters rushing to the polls. I suspect both of these groups were more confused than convinced.

There really were no crucial points or killer blows which are memorable or like to have a profound impact on the vote or the lead up period.

It did not feel as if this debate has in any way changed the game or lead to any new enlightened answers or discussion. In short it was more repetition than revolution. We await future confrontations with hope rather than expectation.