FROM the very beginning of ‘The Ayes Have It’, it was pretty clear who would end up on the winning side.

The first topic for Alex Salmond’s new Edinburgh Fringe Show, which is loosely based on a parliamentary debate, was the issue of whether Scotland should become independent.

The boos alongside some clapping that greeted the No camp when they came on to ‘Rule Britannia’ set the tone for the part-politics, part-pantomime evening to come.

Adding to that atmosphere was former Commons Speaker John Bercow in the role of chair, who relished hamming it up like never before.

Producer Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik introduced it as an evening of comedy and politics. And it was the Tory politicians who inadvertently provided the biggest laughs as they tried to argue the case for Scotland staying in the Union.

It felt a bit like being back in 2014 with former First Minister and Alba leader Salmond receiving enthusiastic applause as he set out the case for the Aye side.

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He was backed by SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who sneaked in a cheeky quip as she attacked failure of the promises made by the No camp.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if you think any of those promises have been kept, then I’ve got a campervan to sell you,” she added.

Tory MP Davis, who was first up to try to valiantly make the case for ‘No’, acknowledged the crowd’s reaction.

“I’m clearly here for the villain part,” he said.

He tried to get off to a good start by proclaiming “of course” the people of Scotland should decide their own destiny – although later ignoring an intervention from Salmond asking him to comment on why the country is being denied the right to self-determination.

The heckles and jeers only increased as he tried to argue independence would mean the “break up of one of the greatest nations of modern times”.

Trotting out the argument from 2014 that the currency would be a major stumbling block brought the biggest groans of the night.

The opening gambit from Lord Strathclyde, also trying to defend the union, was that in an evening of comedy and politics, it was the Aye camp that had provided the comedy. It was quickly drowned out by booing.

The twist to the evening came with the seasoned politicians being joined by two pupils from Boroughmuir High, a reminder of the next generation snapping at their heels.

For the Aye side, Alannah made an excellent case for an independent Scotland to become an “innovation nation”. Her passion was clear as she finished by setting out the times Scotland’s voice has not been heard from Brexit to the current Tory government.

“It is not the sort of democracy young people want to grow up in,” she railed.

Watch out for a future First Minister.

But equally big respect for her fellow pupil Shona, who faced the task of arguing for No. Faced with trying to persuade that audience, I would have frankly fled from the building quietly sobbing.

She was admirably undaunted and ignored the heckling – particularly when it came to mentioning the BBC as a benefit of staying in the Union.

It prompted Bercow to bellow: “Shooona will be heard”.

The former Commons Speaker also enjoyed some sparring with the audience as they posed questions ranging from how pensions would be protected after independence to whether the Scottish Government has been infiltrated by MI5.

He saved his best dig when summing up the many years’ experience the politicians had racked up between them.

“Topping the lot - without the awkward inconvenience of election - is the noble Lord Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith Strathclyde,” he roared.

When the audience was asked to shout out their vote, it was no surprise the Ayes won, but a few supporters of the Union also made their voices heard.

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The show was billed as a way of making politics informative and fun and proving it does not have to be boring.

A fairly rowdy audience combined with a topic of heated debate, meant the format worked perfectly.

There’s a wide-ranging guest list for the coming shows – although sadly actor Brian Cox had to cancel – and future topics for debate include Brexit, public sector strikes and the monarchy. The organisers will no doubt be hoping a similarly enthusiastic crowd turns up each night.

Indeed they may have hit on a winning formula for future Prime Minister’s Questions.

Why not round up a couple of hundred members of the public, let them loose in the Commons bar for a bit then allow them to heckle and ask questions in the Chamber?

That would be one way to shake up the often interminably dull exchanges between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer every week.

"The Ayes Have It! The Ayes Have It!" is on at the Assembly George Square Gardens, Spiegeltent Palais Du Variete until August 13. For more information and tickets visit