Alex Massie Alex Massie

Alistair Darling is not being replaced as the leader of the Better Together campaign

‘Utter fucking bollocks’. In case that’s not clear enough for you, the suggestion that Alistair Darling is being replaced as the head of the Better Together campaign is, as one insider puts it, ‘absolute horseshit’.

Douglas Alexander, the man replacing Darling according to the Daily Mail, was at the Better Together HQ in Glasgow earlier today and, I understand, mildly surprised to learn of his elevation.

Then again, the Mail only reports that there will be ‘no formal announcement of a change’ merely a ‘secret agreement’ that Alexander should effectively supplant Darling. So secret, however, that no-one involved appears to have heard of it.

James Chapman is a fine reporter but one can’t help but think the sources he cites testifying to Darling’s supposed relegation are a) likely to be in London and b) most likely to be Conservatives and that a combination of a) and b) suggests they might not have the greatest clue in the world about what’s happening in Scotland.

The strength of this report is further undermined by the suggestion Alexander is taking a ‘newly prominent’ role. True, he gave a speech the other day but, gosh, he’s done that before. Quite often, actually. In fact the Shadow Foreign Secretary is hardly a stranger north of the Tweed and Solway. He’s been making speeches — mostly quite good ones — for months and pops up pretty regularly in the newspapers too.

But yes, Alexander, like other senior Labour figures, will be campaigning for the Union this summer. And so will Gordon Brown (in his own way). Which, surely, is as it should be. Mustering additional brigades is not the same thing as replacing the brigades already in the field.

Nationalists sometimes complain that Unionists personalise the referendum too much. It’s not just about Alex Salmond, they complain.

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