Darling, it’s just as well Brown rode into town

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I do not generally subscribe to miracles, but the transformation of the No campaign during the Scottish independence campaign was little short of miraculous

It was formally led by Alistair Darling, the former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Now Mr Darling is a decent man and a very able politician, but he is not a member of the rough-and-tumble school of politics which, in reality, this campaign demanded.

His logic, like his courtesy, was always impeccable, but he lacked the fiery equipment to deal with the rough-house tactics which, sadly, engulfed the election, particularly in its later stages. He would have been the ideal man to lead a campaign in say prim Frinton-on-Sea but seemed totally unsuitable for the rough end of Glasgow.

And that is why, as the campaign entered its closing stages, the No vote grandees began to panic, as the polls began to show the two sides neck and neck, or, worse, with the Yes people marginally in the lead.

That is why, I suspect, at this stage, Mr Darling was quietly led into the shade, while the former Prime Minister, Gordon Brown unofficially took the helm.

He is normally a growly, not very inspiring speaker. But his rip-roaring, splendidly rabble-rousing performance on the eve of the poll, was simply a classic - probably the best and most effective speech he ever made. It is no exaggeration to suggest that it was the key factor in the No triumph. Brown should have entered the fray much earlier than he did. Meanwhile, a knighthood should be on the horizon.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow Home Secretary, says she envisages the day when Labour will have a female leader for the first time - it could, of course, be her. But few people seem to realise that Labour has already had a woman leader, Margaret Beckett.

She was deputy leader when John Smith died suddenly in 1994 and automatically became leader.

Under Labour Party rules, she was not simply an acting leader, a part-time leader, a stand-in leader, but a fully fledged leader, if only for a relatively brief period. So if Ms Cooper, or any of the other Labour ladies, assume this role, she will not be the first woman to hold that office.