Alex Salmond faces independence questions from rivals on STV debate

Leaders’ debate: Independence
Leaders’ debate: Independence
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Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have all attacked the SNP over the issue of Scottish independence during the 2011 election campaign, and it was to be no different in the final televised leaders’ debate.

Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott led the way, saying people could decide on Thursday if they wanted a government that "absolutely drives" for independence and does that "every day for the next five years" in a political campaign, or if they wanted a government "that's about jobs, about education about keeping our services local".

"That for me is more important," he added.

And Labour leader Iain Gray followed up, saying “I have come into politics to deal with the real issues that people want dealt with.

“I’ve heard very few people asking for independence.”

Mr Gray said a referendum on independence would be a "distraction" from his plans for jobs, improving care services for older people and being tough on crime - particularly knife crime.

He continued: "It would create uncertainty exactly about where Scotland would be in just a few years, what our currency would be, what our regulatory regime would be, how our interest rates would be set, and I believe that would damage our economy and stop us creating the jobs."

Annabel Goldie, Scottish Conservative leader, also espoused her opposition, saying she would fight for Scotland to remain a part of the UK.

SNP leader Mr Salmond responded by saying that any referendum would follow the precedent set by devolution. He added that it was the right of the Scottish people to decide the "constitutional" issue.

He said: “A referendum would be conducted on principle. Only then would legislation be decided on.

“It is up to politicians to take the verdict of the people – we would be giving the Scottish people the right to decide on the issue.”

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