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A funny thing happened on the way to the polling booth

IRN-BRU costing a million quid and Better Together cast as the nasty guidance councillor at school telling you to work in a warehouse ...

Game for a laugh: Erich McElroy, David Bateman, Iain Macwhirter, Patrick Harvie and Keir McAllisterPhotograph: Mhic Chambers
Game for a laugh: Erich McElroy, David Bateman, Iain Macwhirter, Patrick Harvie and Keir McAllisterPhotograph: Mhic Chambers

the Independence Referendum was given a much needed shot of satire yesterday at the Sunday Herald's standing-room only Independence Comedy debate..

Hosted by the Sunday Herald's Iain Macwhirter, the Maybes Aye, Maybes Naw event at the Stand Comedy Club in Glasgow gave the Yes and No camps the chance to articulate their message with a little humour before taking a question and answer session with the public.

The pro-independence side was led by Patrick Harvie MSP and Glasgow comedian Keir McAllister, while the Unionist position was argued by journalist David Bateman and stand-up favourite Erich McElroy - who describes himself as an American-turned-Brit, with Scottish heritage.

The audience listened as the panel batted around a range of topics such as the future of the pound in Scotland, the European Union, female voters and the importance of oil in Scotland's economy - often with a some off-colour language and bizarre flights of fancy.

Taking it slightly more seriously was the token politician, Patrick Harvie. He said: "We've got the chance to do something dramatically different in Scotland and give the next generation of Scots the chance to build the society they would be proud of."

The audience then heard from Erich McElroy. "I see the appeal of voting Yes but if you're keeping the pound and keeping the Queen and the keeping the army and all these other things, then what is the point?"

Comedian McAllister's impassioned plea for the Yes side was well-received, with constant interruptions for applause. "Scotland is a different country from England, politically and socially," he said. "If you look at Nigel Farage, he's winning debates against Nick Clegg in England, whereas we chased him out of the country. He was stupid enough to hide in a pub, that just shows you how much of Scotland he doesn't understand."

Macwhirter then canvassed the opinion of the audience with inpromptu vote, and during a show of hands, an overwhelming majority of the audience said they were in favour of a Yes vote with fairly few undecideds. Only two brave souls offered their pledge to vote No.

But David Bateman, despite being greeted with pantomine-esque boos when introducing himself as a Conservative Unionist, offered a spirited defence for the No campaign.

He said: "Economically, Scotland would be much better off under the UK government and if Scotland voted for Independence, there would be an Alex Salmond-sized hole in the budget." The panel then discussed the issue of the pound, with McElroy asking: "If they [Westminster] still have those levers of financial control then what kind of independence would that be for Scotland?"

Harvie said: "It would be better than nothing and would give us the chance to change these things a few years down the line."

McAllister added: "I have no problem starting with the pound, because what independence will provide us with is the confidence to go and tackle the issue and sort it out for ourselves after September 18."

Bateman then argued: "A new currency does sound like fun, for a wee while. At least until Irn-Brus start costing a million quid."

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