Note: *I* do not think that University debate clubs are for arses.
Most of the media coverage of last night’s #Scotdecides debate seems to suggest that Alistair Darling won it. This impression is backed up by a small poll for the Guardian. It is also reinforced by the tendency for no supporters to think that Darling won, and yes supporters to plump for Salmond, with the former having more people to declare victory. But on what are they basing their assessment? I ask because relatively few posts note the – albeit small and insufficient – bump for the yes vote after the debate (described by John Curtice). Isn’t that outcome the most important measure of victory? The problem, for me, is summed up in Alex Massie’s tweet (not, I should say, Massie himself – solid, stout fellow, salt of the earth, etc.). It suggests that we are judging Salmond and Darling according to who would win a high school or University debating match. This is just a hunch, but my guess is that most Scottish voters think that those debate clubs are for arses. Many will think that they are, generally but not exclusively, male arses. Or, at least, many of the people that matter – such as the undecided voters – will be focused on other aspects of the debate – some on the information, and some on the demeanour of the debaters. In that case, it becomes a much more personal decision on who ‘won’. My impression, for example, is that Darling lost it as soon as he started getting all pointy fingered. And, even though I am 41, it still occurred to me that Darling ‘started it’. My 9 year old was more impressed with Darling’s catchphrases ‘stupidity on stilts’ and, of course, Best of Both Worlds – but he won’t be able to vote until the next referendum.
You can watch the debate here: http://news.stv.tv/scotland-decides/news/285205-the-debate-as-it-happens-alex-salmond-and-alistair-darling-clash/