Alistair Darling ‘sidelined’ by Better Together

BETTER TOGETHER has sidelined Alistair Darling as leader of the campaign to keep Scotland in the union, according to reports.

Alistair Darling. Picture: John Devlin
Alistair Darling. Picture: John Devlin

The former chancellor is understood to have failed to inspire the No campaign with a number of Labour heavyweights expected to be drafted in as the campaign moves into its final stages.

A report in the Daily Mail says that it was agreed, after meetings between senior Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem figures, that shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander would effectively take charge of the cross-party group.

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The move is likeley to see Gordon Brown, who had differences with Darling when the pair were in government, step up to a more prominent role.

Shadow cabinet member Jim Murphy and Lib Dem Treasury minister Danny Alexander are also expected to take up a more prominent roles.

A poll in the Scotland on Sunday in April found that the Yes campaign would need only a swing of two per cent to achieve victory in the referendum on September 18.

However a poll published in the Sunday Mail at the weekend found that 54% of those surveyed planned to vote No.

A Better Together spokesman said: “As we approach the final stages of the campaign, Alistair is bringing more and more people into the team. This is just what you would expect.

“The SNP will be throwing everything at breaking up Britain. We must make sure that we have our best people involved so that we can win the arguments.

“All the polls, including one at the weekend showed that we command a 20 point lead, show that we speak for Scotland on this issue.”

Douglas Alexander yesterday insisted he would not be deterred from asking hard questions about the SNP’s plans for independence, despite criticism that the campaign has been too negative.

He said: “We need to ensure that there is critique, scrutiny, and ultimately judgment by people in Scotland.

“That means we should not be intimidated into silence in the face of claims from the other side of the argument.

“I make no apology for saying that we need to scrutinise claims that have been made, not just in relation to currency or the European Union, but a whole range of other issues. That’s what we’ve endeavoured to do in the face of the suggestion that any kind of legitimate scrutiny is somehow illegitimate scaremongering.”