A close acquaintance of mine is a perfectionist. When asked to sand a lump of wood flat at school, he sanded and sanded, but it was never quite right. Eventually, having started with a thick block of the stuff, he showed the teacher his efforts – a paper-thin, almost-flat sheet, which the woodwork master promptly snapped in half. Giving in to the temptation to tinker with things doesn’t always produce the right results.
Today it is the Better Together campaign which is being frantically sanded in the hope of getting it just right. Apparently, Alistair Darling has been sidelined, amid frustration and concern at the steady pace at which the Yes campaign has been munching up their early lead.
Some would argue that’s unfair – the situation isn’t as grim as it seems, or Darling isn’t responsible for the problems – while others would greet his removal as overdue, after months of being out-glitzed by Alex Salmond. Whether you think it wise or stupid to change the leader of Better Together, few are likely to applaud the decision to replace Darling with Douglas Alexander.
Yes, that’s right – the same Douglas Alexander with a reputation for stuffing up every campaign he has been in charge of, the same Douglas Alexander who runs the Labour election strategy which yesterday saw the party fall behind in the polls for the first time in two years.
Darling might not have been the most dynamic campaigner in the world, but at least he isn’t a complete and utter Jonah. Replacing him with Alexander is the equivalent of replacing your single-bar heater with a bonfire in your lounge because you weren’t warm enough, substituting your Morris Minor with a North Korean missile in the hope of getting to work faster or deciding to shave with a lawnmower because your disposable Bic was a bit blunt.
If you thought Better Together wasn’t quite up to scratch before, just wait until the new boss gets his hands on it.