By Martin Kelly
The Yes campaign has flown out of the blocks in 2014.  Two clever surveys have placed the No campaign on the back foot.
People want the No camp to spell out what a No vote will mean and they also want to see a head-to-head between PM David Cameron and FM Alex Salmond.

The decision to survey people in the rest of the UK was an inspired move by the SNP and we now know that the rest of the UK – the people David Cameron really pays attention to – want him to take part in a TV debate with the SNP leader.

The Cam/Salm TV debate issue is a bit of political mischief by the SNP who know how the public will view the Conservative leader's apparent reluctance to face his nationalist counterpart.  It's already looking like Cameron's running scared and the Yes campaign can only gain from such a perception.

There's also a wee bit of payback from Salmond who if you recall was blocked from appearing alongside Cameron, Clegg and Brown in the so-called leaders' debate prior to the 2010 UK General Election.  That rankled with the man who thrives in the high profile theatre of TV's political cut and thrust.

But what of the claims by Unionist supporters of Cameron's stance, that their man should not engage the First Minister because Cameron is not Scottish. 

The suggestion is absurd and has more than a whiff of ethnic purity about it.  There is no requirement in the referendum for people to be Scottish, they simply need to be on the electoral register.

Ah, retort No supporters, but Cameron doesn't live here and he doesn't have a vote.  True, but not having a vote doesn't mean you don't have influence.

If, as claimed by Cameron and his Labour and Lib Dem defenders (since when do Labour step in to provide cover for a Tory PM?) that the independence debate should be a matter for Scots, then why has the UK Prime Minister spent considerable time and effort elbowing his way into 'our' debate?

Also, should not Cameron, as head of the current state within which Scotland resides, not inform Foreign heads of state who deign to interfere in the debate that they should mind their own damn business?

The truth is that David Cameron is using his position as the PM of the UK to interfere in the referendum.  From demanding the Scottish Government sought his Government's approval before he would deign to legitimise the referendum, to refusing to seek clarity from the EU and milking the resultant 'uncertainty' for his own ends.

His wheeze to celebrate the First World War at the end of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was a blatant attempt to ensure an Olympic style celebration of Union Jack inspired Britishness.

Cameron has never been away from the independence debate, nor has his cabinet.  He has commanded an army of Whitehall Civil Servants to draft document after document attacking independence. 

English based Tory MPs sit on the Scottish Affairs Committee which issues regular politically motivated anti-independence reports.

Both leaders are playing their hand to maximum advantage as both are entitled to do.  But by refusing to debate with Salmond, Cameron is looking like the bully who runs when confronted.

He's not scared of course, he probably relishes the chance to take Salmond on.  But Cameron's advisers and those in charge of the No campaign know that he cannot hope to win a TV debate with the de-facto leader of independence.  There are simply too many issues on which Cameron would struggle – Welfare cuts, Trident and of course the Bedroom Tax.

An issue as important as the future of the UK will demand that TV debates, high profile prime-time TV debates, are held.

But Salmond versus Cameron will only happen if middle England becomes so irritated at the upstart First Minister that it demands their Prime Minister take him on. 

If his own electorate, on whom he relies on to maintain high office, up the pressure then Cameron risks losing not just the Union but a chance of a second term in office if he continues to back off.

Salmond has Cameron wriggling at the moment.  Expect the nationalists to keep tugging the line on this one and the No campaign to become increasingly nervous.

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