Live TV Clash Over Referendum Vote

Independence could bring Scotland's politicians closer to the people they represent but also bring its potential enemies closer as well, voters have heard.

Both sides of the referendum debate faced off in a live STV debate this evening ahead of the independence vote on September 18.

Nationalist actress Elaine C Smith said politicians would be close enough "to see the whites of their eyes'' to hold them to account in an independent Scotland.

But Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the SNP's plan to rid Scotland of nuclear weapons could leave it more open to attack.

Ms Smith also said an independent Scotland could elevate the "Dickensian'' life expectancy in some parts of Glasgow.

But Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale questioned how Scotland would pay for all its extra pensioners, with the Institute For Fiscal Studies (IFS) predicting £6 billion more cuts under independence than those proposed under the Westminster austerity programme.

Labour shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander challenged nationalist accusations that the Better Together parties are not committed to delivering more powers to Scotland if it votes No.

Ms Smith highlighted the "appalling'' life expectancy of men in the east end of Glasgow.

"One male child in every four born in Glasgow this year will not live until they're 65,'' she said.

"This is not in Dickens' time, this is 2014. I live in the east end of Glasgow - 58 years of age is the life expectancy of men there.''

She added: "In an independent nation, we can tackle the issues here where we can actually see the whites of the eyes of politicians.''

Ms Dugdale said: "Everything to do with health and social care is already devolved to the Scottish Parliament, and do you know what we are faced with? Fifteen minute care visits.

"This is only going to be a bigger problem going into the future.''

She added: "What you cannot say is where the money comes from. The IFS is telling us there will be £6 billion of cuts on top of what we are already facing.''

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie said a nuclear free Scotland could "tip the balance'' in the remainder of the UK, compelling it to rid the British Isles of "psychopathic'' weapons of mass destruction.

But Ms Davidson said nuclear weapons remain a deterrent to international threats.

"There are very few countries that have unilaterally - rather than multilaterally - given up their nuclear weapons,'' she said.

"One of those countries is Ukraine, and this week Vladimir Putin said that he would be able to advance on Kiev in a fortnight.

"That's why we need nuclear weapons, so we can stand tall in the world.''

Mr Harvie said: "I do find it pretty astonishing - the suggestion that we should be now worried about independence because Vladimir Putin is going to come for us once he has finished off his own neighbours.

"Countries which don't have nuclear weapons are not subject to the kind of threats that Ruth Davidson is talking about.''

Ms Smith said the vast majority of Scotland would have voted for more powers over independence if they had been given the choice in the referendum.

But she said Westminster's decision to veto a "devo plus'' option in the referendum calls into question its commitment to deliver more powers.

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said if Scotland votes No "we are not guaranteed a single extra power in the Scottish Parliament''.

She said Ms Dugdale and Mr Alexander are currently on "Team Tory'' ahead of the referendum, but there is no guarantee Labour will get elected in 2015 or that a future Tory government would accept its devolution proposals.

Mr Alexander said: "Labour has been the party of home rule, that legislated for the Scotland Act in 1997 that gave the referendum in September 1997.

"These were the same people back then who said 'Labour couldn't deliver a pizza, never mind a Parliament'.''

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