Fleet Street and the referendum – Tuesday papers review: Telegraph and Alastair Campbell get together

Chris Boffey is a former news editor of the Observer, Sunday Telegraph and the Mirror and onetime special adviser to the Labour government.

You know the end is nigh when the Daily Telegraph and Alastair Campbell, the Tory nemesis, get together.

Bagpipe-playing Campbell, whose parents were both born in Scotland and whose brother served in a Scots regiment, is plastered all over the Telegraph in an impassioned plea for the nation to stay together. He says a split would be a huge risk for Scotland and a disaster for the United Kingdom.

Campbell refers to recent polls that had the two rival campaigns neck and neck and writes that this was a wake up call for Westminster and hints that the Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrats should have got their act together sooner.

The FT goes beyond the hint stage. It says the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, and other top civil servants had been warning ministers for months that they were dawdling and should have been sharper in facing up to Alex Salmond and his troops.

This is a view echoed by the Guardian which says UK politicians were just too late. The Times says that Better Together has been outgunned by the yes campaign and this will continue for the days leading up to the poll as it has a better organisational structure aimed at getting people out to vote. The Times has obviously run out of rhetoric on the poll as there is no leader.

All the papers report fully the David Cameron speech in Aberdeen and it was generally agreed that he was very emotional. On the verge of tears say some, including The Sun, but Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail thought the speech was "as sugary as a foreman's cuppa" and mused that Cameron might quit if the Scots break away.

Elsewhere in the Mail there is a mixture of personalities and scare stories laced with some humour. It gives prominence to the spoof road block on the border and space to Bob Geldof, Al Murray and Eddie Izzard who joined a "we love the Scots" demo in Trafalgar Square last night. Richard Littlejohn goes in for satire as his column has a question and answer theme with a caricature American quizzing him about the possibility of the split and why it matters.

For me the best of the day is in the Daily Mirror where the columnist Brian Reade went on the road with Alex Salmond, the man he calls "McGhandi". You might not agree with what Reade says but it is very perceptive.

After the disaster that was the Daily Express cartoon yesterday, Matt in the Daily Telegraph is very funny with his Buckingham Palace talking corgis saying: "It was an unprecedented intervention ...The Beckhams never comment on constitutional matters."

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