Salmond and Darling Square Off in Independence TV DebateIBTimes UK

Alistair Darling pulled off a surprise victory in the first televised debate over whether Scotland should remain within the United Kingdom, with Alex Salmond left squirming as Darling repeatedly exploited the "currency question."

An ICM poll conducted shortly after the debate concluded found that 56% thought Darling and the "No" campaign were victors, with just 44% voting for Salmond and the pro-independence "Yes" campaign.

Scottish Independence
For Scottish Independence: SNP's Alex SalmondReuters

Darling, representing the "Better Together" campaign, asked Salmond - Scotland's First Minister - how Scotland could hope to keep the pound currency if it left the union. All three main parties at Westminster say they would block plans to allow Scotland to retain Sterling.

"We will keep the pound, it is our pound as well as England's pound," insisted Salmond, whose SNP ditched the idea of switching to the euro. "This is Scotland's pound. It doesn't belong to George Osborne, it doesn't belong to you. It has been built up by Scotland for a long time."

Alistair Darling
Alistair Darling believes Scotland should stay with the UKReuters

Darling called the proposal "stupidity on stilts." "Any eight-year-old can tell you the flag of a country, the capital of a country and its currency. I presume the flag is the saltire, I assume our capital will still be Edinburgh, but you can't tell us what currency we will have. What is an eight-year-old going to make of that?"

The two men also clashed on tuition fees, pensions and income tax but Darling appeared to know Salmond would struggle with the currency question. Scotland hoping to keep the pound, he said, was "a bit like getting a divorce and keeping the same joint bank account."

With just six weeks to go till the referendum on 18th September, the "No" campaign are still several points ahead according to most polls, but around half a million people are still thought to be undecided.

Although most Tweets seemed to feel Darling won the debate, there was also fury that a live STV stream to the debate was unavailable. In a statement the broadcaster said: "We are receiving an unprecedented demand for the live stream of the debate. We have made each section of the programme available for immediate catch up on our referendum site, scotlanddecides.com."