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  By Anne-Marie O'Donnell
 
Prime Minister David Cameron has bowed to public pressure and said he would be "delighted" to address floating voters in a television studio after previously insisting the independence debate should take place only between Scots.
 
Mr Cameron made the comments during an interview with STV on Monday, despite previously claiming the referendum debate was a matter for "Scots living in Scotland" when challenged to debate First Minister Alex Salmond on live TV.

Welcoming the "significant u-turn", Mr Salmond said: "In one interview, David Cameron has removed his only argument against taking part in a referendum debate – by agreeing to go into an STV studio to make the case against independence to an audience of floating voters, he has abandoned his previous position that this is exclusively a matter for 'Scots living in Scotland'.  That is a welcome and significant U-turn.

"David Cameron is the head of the UK Government working for a No vote, and given that he has now pledged to come back to Scotland to take part in a referendum TV discussion, in these circumstances it is sensible to have that debate for undecided voters with me as the head of the Scottish Government seeking a Yes vote."

The No campaign has repeatedly rebuffed calls from the SNP to provide people in Scotland with live, televised debates on the key issues surrounding Scottish independence between the Prime Minister and First Minister.  In September last year, Mr Cameron claimed requests for a debate were a "divisionary tactic" and accused Mr Salmond of "deflecting attention away from the real issues".

Instead, Mr Cameron has put forward Better Together leader and former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling as a replacement, despite criticisms over Mr Darling's handling of the No campaign.  But while Mr Cameron has insisted the debate should take place within Scotland, the Westminster government has been actively engaged behind the scenes in trying to dissuade Scots from voting Yes in the independence referendum.

Earlier this month, Mr Cameron even publicly pleaded with people across the UK to "pick up the phone" to friends and family in Scotland and urge them to stay within the union.  However, Mr Cameron has shown no signs yet that he is prepared to engage in a full debate with the head of the Scottish Government.

Repeating Mr Cameron's stance on debate, Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall appeared on BBC Scotland's Morning Call on Monday and again insisted that only Scots should take part in the debate, despite the repercussions of independence on the whole of the UK, and accused Mr Salmond of trying to pick a fight.

"This is a decision for us as Scots in Scotland," he added. "I think everybody can see what's going on with this call to debate David Cameron, the desperation to avoid having a debate with people who have actually got a vote in the referendum.  He's [Mr Salmond] desperate to turn this into a fight with England."

Mr Cameron spoke to STV during a rare trip to Scotland this week for a Cabinet meeting – only the second such occasion in 90 years - however Scottish media outlets such as the Daily Record lambasted the prime minister for failing to meet with voters during the trip.

"Yesterday, David Cameron came to Scotland and dodged the voters," Mr Salmond added. "Hopefully, the Prime Minister went homewards and thought again – and as well as agreeing to take questions from voters in an STV studio, he will take the next step and agree to debate."

Comments  

 
# creigs1707repeal 2014-02-26 00:13
Cameron is happy to preach to Scots from afar, but won't discuss with us face-to-face.

He claims this is a matter only for Scots but snipes and intervenes from the sidelines.

He claims he won't debate Salmond because he (Cameron) doesn't have a vote in Scotland and yet Cameron is quite happy to govern Scotland without a mandate from Scottish voters.

Cameron is the leading UK Govt signatory of the Edinburgh Agreement. Salmond is the leading signatory for the Scottish Govt.

Cameron is the only person who can speak authoritatively for the UK Govt position. Alastair Darling, an opposition back-bench MP cannot speak for UK Govt policy since he has no authority to do so--only the David Cameron has such authority.

"I will fight with every fibre of my being to keep Scotland in the Union." - David Cameron

Then quit running and start debating, Mr Cameron.
 
 
# daveniz 2014-02-26 00:22
After Tonight people should be asking Johann Lamont what does she actually do? if she doesn't know what's going on in her own constituency with Shipbuilding in Govan then she has failed in representation of the people she was voted in by!

Sturgeon in one full swoop showed that she know's more about Scotland than Lamont does and that it is beyond doubt!
 
 
# WRH2 2014-02-26 00:49
Cameron seems to be caving in nicely and is certainly for turning. What's he going to agree to next? Currency union?
 
 
# BRL 2014-02-26 01:07
I would like to demand that the PM of the UK does everything he possibly can do to talk this YES/NO thing through with the FM of Scotland. He seems reluctant, or perhaps, its hard to fit it into an overcrowded diary, who knows, but if he doesn't take more care the UK as we know it may just disintegrate and he's the guy in charge. Surely Shirley, it makes sense?
 
 
# Barbazenzero 2014-02-26 10:22
The pressure is certainly on, and recent events seemingly make it inevitable.

I'm not a theist, but the Kirk's new Imagining Scotland’s Future: Our Vision report will add pressure. The BBC apparently covered it on GMS and have an article on it at bbc.co.uk/.../... who now link to it directly. churchofscotland.org.uk/.../... covers the release and also has the download link. The PDF is only 28 pages including some impressive graphics - especially the word cloud on p7 - and much more simpatico to the Scottish Government's case than Team GB's.
 
 
# Barbazenzero 2014-02-26 10:44
Unsurprisingly, the BBC report is already being bowdlerised for "impartiality". 1st casualty was the convener's: "It is an inspiration to see that people in communities across Scotland are challenging the political status quo." see www.newssniffer.co.uk/.../1
 
 
# Breeks 2014-02-26 10:46
Cameron is saying whatever he thinks people want to hear. He was put on the spot facing a big dunt if he said no, he wouldn't speak to floating voters.
The man is fickle and shallow, and not to be trusted. When it comes to Scotland, he is out of his depth.
 

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