by Douglas Lindsay, with Dr Ian Shackleton, senior lecturer at the Glasgow School of Politics and Football

Darling promises to make Independence sound even more apocalyptic

It was a subdued Alistair Darling who spoke to a smaller than usual media pool this morning.

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With journalists flocking to the Commonwealth Games to report sunshine, medals, success and an outpouring of exuberance, the audience for the High Commissioner of Better Together and his bleak tales of impending doom was reduced to little less than a handful.

And although Darling's place in the BT pecking order has been the cause of speculation for some time, with most assuming his jacket to be on a peg shakier than that of any on a wall in Gaza, the Chief Doomsayer Pursuivant of All Scotland is still taking every opportunity to grab a microphone and tell voters just how apocalyptically awful things are going to be in the event of a Yes vote.

'One need only look at the sad state of the world today,' said Mr Darling, preparing to invoke every bad thing that has happened on Planet Earth in the last few weeks to aid his argument, 'to see the precarious position in which Scotland will find itself.

'Look at Libya, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Ukraine, Syria, Gaza, Somalia, Iraq, Russian imperialism, Sino-Japanese tension, plane crashes every few days, the Ebola virus, South Sudan, Egypt, Afghanistan… Look at all the suffering, murder, death, horror and tragedy.

'That's what awaits an independent Scotland. The SNP think iScotland will be on the list of Scandinavian countries. But it won't. It will be on the list of shame, misery and fear. Think of how bad things could possibly get, and then multiply it by 50.'

Later Mr Darling handed out plague masks which he advised people to start wearing within five minutes of confirmation of a Yes vote. In the event of a No vote, he requested that the masks be returned so they can be sold back to West Africa.

'The warnings, from both sides, are only going to get worse,' says political and footballing über-commentator, Dr Ian Shackleton.

Speaking in his 98th floor office in the new William Wallace Freedom Centre at the heart of Glasgow's revolution district, Dr Shackleton is pessimistic about the course of the debate over the coming weeks. 'Better Together are the ones with the well-deserved reputation for doom-merchantry, but don't think the Yes campaign are above it. As the weeks pass, more and more we are hearing baleful and threatening visions of the future of Scotland within the UK. Ironic, since they are so quick to accuse Better Together of negativity. Nevertheless, Alistair Darling remains the Prince of Peril.'

Analysts estimate that every time Alistair Darling opens his mouth, 4.7 people in Scotland attempt suicide.

This morning, warming to his theme, Mr Darling issued a list of seven key disasters that are likely to befall Scotland in the event of independence:

• There will be a race for businesses to head south of the border. Unemployment will hit record levels, and poverty will sweep across the nation.

• Impoverishment will breed ethnic division, and by the end of the year there will be over two million refugees. Unable to cross into rUK, they will be forced to walk into the sea, where they will lead aquatic lives in freezing temperatures off the coast of Fife.

• This year's long warm summer, following on from the mild, damp winter, will turn Scotland into a Lost World with giant insects and spiders. There will be entirely new forms of disease with which iScotland's neophyte health service will be unable to cope.

• Everyone will die and Scotland will become a theme park for giant rats.

• The stars will never be seen above Scotland again, as the air will be filled with choking smoke from the funeral pyres of five million dead.

• Scotland will become a ping pong ball in Cold War II, leading to global destruction and the annihilation of the entire human race.

• Scotland will never win the Eurovision Song Contest.

In response to this staggeringly dramatic series of predictions, the SNP had nothing. Nicola Sturgeon spoke to the BBC, but had to break off the interview when she started crying.

Alex Salmond, meanwhile, was said to have blubbed uncontrollably most of the morning, before finally being given a sedative and collapsing, exhausted, into his pizza chair.

Later in the afternoon Mr Darling was expected to accompany Death on a fact-finding trip to the Middle East.

Other Referendum News From The Past Week

Wednesday July 23:

Alex Salmond surprised the world this evening when he used his speech at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games to declare war on England.

Bare-chested and wearing a kilt stained with the blood of 1000 skewered English lords, the First Minister rallied the audience to avenge hundreds of years of English oppression.

The dancers and singers of the Games opening ceremony were then revealed to be a crack team of ninja assassins, who quickly ethnically cleansed the arena of all true-born Englishmen, including Rod Stewart.

Hazel Irvine, commentating for the event on BBC television, was criticised by users of social media for saying glibly: 'Well, no one saw that coming,' when the slaughter of the England team was over. Giant Tom wrote on Twitter: 'All respect lost 4 HI. Just Gabby for me from now on. Lol!!'

Although the First Minister had been warned by Scottish Secretary, Alistair Carmichael, not to politicise the Games, the First Minister's staff were thought to be working on several different drafts of his speech.

It is understood that Mr Salmond - described as being light-headed and giddy after receiving a surprise kiss from John Barrowman - only decided at the last minute to issue the declaration of war, as he found himself in an independence sort of mood.

Although it is believed that the Games will proceed as planned, insiders reckon that the repercussions will continue for some time from the evening some social media users are already calling 'That thing that was on the telly.' .

'Let me be absolutely clear,' said Prime Minister David Cameron, 'something is going to happen as a result of this. Decisions will be taken. Sanctions will be made. There's nothing that won't come into play, just as soon as we have agreement with our European partners.'

Statisticians have calculated that Britain has never been in agreement with its European partners.

Speaking later, Mr Salmond played down the incident. Stating that he had merely welcomed everyone to the Games and invited them to participate in the true spirit of the Commonwealth, he added: 'If some chose to misrepresent my words and use them as cover for taking vengeance for 1000 years of Westminster subjugation, I can hardly be blamed.'

Some political analysts indicated that it was likely that Mr Salmond's words were misheard due to his mouth being crammed full of Tunnock's Tea Cakes.