It is facile for a senior Labour figure to say that he came out of the last government with his “credibility intact”.
He must be associated to some extent in the public mind not just with economic failure. He was part of a team at the last Westminster election that simply failed to enthuse.
The big Labour vote in Scotland was more due to fear of a Conservative government rather than support for a positive vision for the future. In any case, Mr Darling’s strength has always been as a “safe pair of hands”, not as the inspiring personality a heated referendum campaign might demand.
It certainly matters who leads the pro-Union forces, but just as important is the question of unity and a coherent theme. Does anyone really think that they will win their case simply by defending the existing devolution settlement?
It certainly will not win its case if the public sees differences in approach by the pro-Union parties as how devolution should work.
The prospect of senior figures from different parties refusing to share platforms to put whatever case is agreed will quickly invite voter disaffection.
When putting the case for Union, it might be prudent to show some internal unity around a common cause.
A devo-max option may or may not be presented on the ballot paper. It should still provide a coherent case for all those who don’t feel independence is the way forward.