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Buoyant Alex Salmond says TV triumph can swing Yes vote

By Katrine Bussey

The momentum from the final television clash between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling will carry the pro-independence campaign to victory in next month's referendum, the First Minister has claimed.

"The Yes campaign are going to have our tails up and our tails will be up for the next three weeks as we carry this campaign to victory," Mr Salmond said.

But Mr Darling, leader of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, said the independence referendum debate will be a "fight right down to the wire".

He insisted his campaign had the momentum coming out of Monday night's BBC debate – the second and final TV clash between the two politicians.

A snap poll afterwards by ICM for the Guardian newspaper showed 71% of people questioned thought Mr Salmond won the debate, compared with 29% for Mr Darling.

But the former chancellor insisted: "If you look at all the evidence, all the polls that have been published for the last few months, they consistently show us with a lead, most of them a double-digit lead.

"I'm not complacent – a lot can happen in the next three weeks – but we have momentum. We're making good progress. Our activity on the ground, on the streets, has been stepped up dramatically, the results we're getting in are extremely encouraging. I'm very optimistic, but I'm not complacent.

"I've always said I thought this would be a fight right down to the wire, but I am increasingly confident."

Mr Darling, who was visiting a company in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, said that while television debates were part of the democratic process, the "big debate that actually matters is in people's sitting rooms and people's kitchens, that's where the decision is going to be made".

Mr Salmond, who was visiting the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, said too that "TV debates aren't the be-all and end-all".

The First Minister added: "What matters is the impact on our ground campaign, which is our not-so-secret weapon. We're fighting the most energising, electrifying, extraordinary campaign in Scottish political history.

"It's about momentum, it's also about argument. People in the next few days are taking postal votes into their hands.

"In a few weeks' time they're going to go into polling stations and take the future of their country into their hands.

"When people do that, they're going to vote for something. They're not going to vote against something.

Meanwhile bookmakers William Hill has made No its favourite result for the referendum, with odds of 1/7.

But they have cut the odds for a Yes vote from 9/2 immediately before the debate, to a current price of 4/1.

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