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Social Media Reacts To Scottish Independence Debate

Twitter Watches Salmond V Darling

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, clashed with Alistair Darling, leader of the pro-Union Better Together campaign, in a fiery TV debate aired last night in anticipation of the Scottish independence referendum next month.


As ever, the debate was watched over by keen-eyed Twitter users who posted a live stream of reactions and comments as the discussion unfolded. But for many social media users, the debates on Twitter were far sparkier and note-worthy than that of the two politicians.

Salmond said that the nation was being run by Westminster parties that it had not voted for, and the issue of what currency Scotland would use proved a real sticking point. Darling's repeated questioning of Salmond's currency plans for an independent Scotland got Twitter users most excited during last night's debate, according to figures from the social media giant. Darling argued that the referendum was about Scotland’s future, not simply stubborn patriotism. However, a great number of Tweets expressed boredom and disdain at Darling’s inability to answer a direct question with a clear answer – the eternally slippery condition of politicians.

A Guardian/ICM poll conducted immediately after the debate indicated that Labour MP Darling had ‘won’ the debate by 56% to 44%. Twitter said 72,000 tweets were made about Salmond’s Yes campaign, and 31,000 about Darling’s Better Together campaign.

Think tank Demos analysed the Twitter response to the debate, which attracted well over 100,000 tweets. Carl Miller, social media researcher at the think tank, said: "It wasn't cheers but boos that filled this new digital arena and our analysis suggests people were turned off for one of the oldest reasons of all – neither politician was keen to answer the question." 

Salmond will have been hoping to build on his favourable social media momentum – at the beginning of this year, social media (particularly Twitter) was showing a far more positive response to Scottish Independence, leaning strongly to ‘Yes’ for independence. However, it seems this social media support has tailed off somewhat, as data collected via the #ScotDecides hashtag shows that both participants received significantly more negative tweets than positive ones.

The majority of tweets measured came from Scotland, 37.7% were from England, 157 tweets from Wales and 139 tweets from Northern Ireland.

Darling closed with the warning that: "There are times that, for the love of our family and the love of our country, it's sometimes best to say 'No' - not because we can't, but simply because it is not the best thing to do."

"In six weeks' time, we will make the biggest decision that we've ever made here in Scotland - and remember this, if we decide to leave, there is no going back - there's no second chance."

The real loser, however, was STV who were airing the debate and struggled with technical difficulties and live streaming issues:


Katie Rowley

Recent graduate and now interning as content editor, when she's not writing articles Katie can quite likely be found festival-ing, holiday-ing or reading a book (dedicated English student that she is). Follow her @KatieAtSMF.

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Social Media Reacts To Scottish Independence Debate Reviewed by Anonymous on Wednesday, August 06, 2014 Rating: 5
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