STV announces line-up for live referendum 'town hall' debate

STV has unveiled the line-up for its second live debate on the independence referendum.

Yes or No – The Debate will be broadcast on Tuesday, September 2, between 8pm and 10pm on STV and ITV Border.

Presented by STV's political editor Bernard Ponsonby, the debate will be held in The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh and take an American-style "town hall" format.

Three guests will represent each side of the campaign. Yes will be represented by deputy first minister and SNP depute leader Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP, and actress and Scottish Independence Convention chair Elaine C Smith. The No team will comprise Labour shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander MP, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP, and Kezia Dugdale, Labour MSP and shadow education secretary in the Scottish Parliament.

Key topics to be covered include the economy, social justice, welfare, defence, and foreign affairs.

The audience of up to 350 will be selected in conjunction with polling company Ipsos-MORI and ScotPulse, an online research panel, and will feature equal numbers of Yes and No identifiers and a smaller number of undecided voters.

The programme will come almost one month after STV hosted Scotland's landmark first live referendum debate between First Minister Alex Salmond and leader of the Better Together campaign Alistair Darling. This was followed by a second debate on BBC One Scotland between the two men.

Gordon Macmillan, head of news at STV, said: “This two-hour debate will give members of the public the opportunity to put their questions to key figures on both sides of the campaign. In the final days before the referendum on September 18 we are sure there will be burning questions on all the big issues.

“The forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence has played a significant part in our current affairs programming over the last year and we will continue to bring viewers all the latest news and analysis in the run up to September 18.”

The debate will be streamed live on the STV Player. The ITV network will air the programme between 10.40pm and 00.40am that night while STV Glasgow will show it from 11pm. At 10.30pm Scotland Tonight will have all the highlights and analysis.

STV will have comprehensive online coverage of the debate on STV's Scotland Decides website and social media, using the hashtag #ScotDecides.

There will be analysis from referendum reporter Stephen Daisley @journostephen. He will be joined by Kate Higgins @burdzeyeview, a Women for Independence campaigner who blogs at A Burdz Eye View, and Duncan Hothersall @dhothersall, a small business owner and Labour activist who blogs at @dhothersall.

They will first preview the debate, picking out the key issues from a Yes and No perspective. Then during the debate, they will provide text commentary on the debate as it unfolds on STV's Scotland Decides website. Their analysis will be featured alongside the best of the social media reaction and clips of the key exchanges.