By a Newsnet reporter
Labour MP Douglas Alexander is holding crisis talks with advertising agencies in a bid at shoring up support for a No vote.
Alexander is reported to have turned to the advertising specialists in a last ditch attempt at saving the beleaguered Better Together campaign after months of poor polling saw a double digit lead erode.
According to corporate news outlet ‘Campaign’, the Paisley MP is preparing a brief for the agencies who could be asked to pitch ideas as early as next week.
The agency selected will have a central role in developing Better Together strategic messages in the months leading up to September’s referendum. However the winning bid is unlikely to have a large budget.
Industry insiders are interpreting the move as an admission by Westminster that there is now a very realistic possibility of a Yes win. Better Together has been unable to match the growing grass roots movement that has witnessed ordinary people come together to campaign for a Yes vote.
The move by Alexander will also be seen by many as further evidence of the growing disillusionment in the performance of his party colleague Alistair Darling. The Labour MP has been criticised by his party’s Tory allies, amid claims his leadership of the No campaign has been lacklustre and – according to one unnamed Tory figure – comatose.
On Wednesday sources in the Better Together campaign denied reports Mr Darling had been sidelined, and described an article in a national newspaper as “tripe”.
The move by Alexander to bring in advertising agencies to help the No campaign followed revelations yesterday that the UK Government had handed a £30,000 contract to a PR company which has links to the Better Together campaign.
Engine PR’s partner is Better Together Director Craig Harrow. The SNP has called for an inquiry into how tens of thousands of pounds of public cash came to be awarded to Mr Harrow’s company.
Harrow is the convener of the Scottish Lib Dems and also the former election agent to Treasury Chief, Lib Dem MP Danny Alexander.