A leading Better Together campaigner has pleaded with former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown to front the pro-UK side if another independence referendum takes place.

Broadcasting legend Archie Macpherson said he is concerned about the lack of leaders on the Unionist side and named Brown as the obvious choice.

In an interview with the Herald on Sunday, Macpherson said the Union is “very vulnerable” due to the Tory Government’s handling of Brexit and the “irrelevance” of Labour, a party he supports.

He added that the abuse he faced during the indyref after backing the Union was worse than anything he had experienced at Old Firm matches.

Macpherson, whose football commentary for the BBC made him a household name for decades, made a powerful speech in Dundee weeks before the indyref.

Appealing to UK-wide solidarity, he described himself as being on the “Left” and made a robust defence of the achievements of past Labour governments.

Hailing former Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s victory in 1945, which led to the creation of the NHS and welfare state, he said this Government “changed and transformed society – something we must never forget”.

However, five years on from the referendum, support for independence is rising and the SNP is expected to put another vote at the centre of the 2021 Holyrood election.

Unionists privately admit they are concerned that the Brexit chaos at Westminster, presided over by Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is undermining the Union.

Speaking to this newspaper, Macpherson reiterated his opposition to independence and another referendum, but said: “I can understand the revulsion that people are experiencing, not only north of the Border, but particularly north of the Border, about a tiny slither of people putting into Downing Street a man who is quite simply renowned for mendacity, for letting people down, from his former editors to his lovers.”

Macpherson also criticised the current behaviour of the two key parties which propped up the Better Together campaign. “You are talking about a degree of immorality that has been bought into by the Scottish Tories [on Johnson]," he sad. "I always thought that one of the vulnerabilities of the Union would be the impression given of the Tories that they really don’t care ... where they want Brexit at all costs.”

He was even more critical of Labour under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn: “The party I have supported all my life is irrelevant.”

He added that Corbyn’s ambiguous position on Brexit was also unhelpful: “A pragmatic party of the Left would be the solution to many of our problems, but we’ve now got a leader who is adopting a humpty dumpty stance – sitting on a fence – on the matter of Brexit.

“Where do you see Labour? Am I missing something? They are almost subterranean.”

Macpherson said the Labour Government he roots for, and believes would head off Scottish nationalism, is not on its way: “I would like to see a Labour Government, but unfortunately I am not going to see one. I just don’t see Corbyn in Downing Street. Some in his party dislike him intensely.

“If you combine these two factors [Labour and Tory], it makes the Union very vulnerable.”

He is concerned about the lack of political heavyweights who could lead the pro-UK campaign in the event of another referendum, but made one exception: “That is a concern [the lack of people]. I would sincerely hope that Gordon Brown still retains an interest in this, because he still is respected. He is a voice. They will need that.

“I would plead with Gordon Brown to consider, if it does happen, and I hope it does not happen, to take a big interest in it.”

Asked if this meant Brown leading the campaign, he replied: “Yes, why not?”

Five years on from the referendum, Macpherson also spoke about his personal experiences in the aftermath of his Dundee speech.

Many Yes campaigners found the campaign to be an uplifting moment, but for Macpherson it was “harrowing”.

He said: “I was a commentator for umpteen Old Firm games and there was a level of vitriol associated with that, but nothing like what I got after the speech I made.”

He continued: “Some wrote up the referendum as a romantic, exhilarating, exciting time, populated largely by young people seeing a new vision. Wonderful. Well, it depends where you were.

“There was a hell of a lot of abuse thrown about, including directed at myself. There was nothing pleasant or romantic about that.”