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Gordon Brown - Next First Minister of Scotland?

18/09/2014 11:49 BST | Updated 18/11/2014 10:59 GMT

On Friday, Gordon Brown will emerge from the referendum on Scottish independence with his reputation substantially burnished, whatever the result. If the vote goes against him, he is the man who almost saved the Union in spite of all the obstacles put in his way - many of them erected by his own side.

If the vote is a No, which I expect it will be, a more interesting scenario presents itself. One that Brown has hinted at in the last weeks of this campaign. And, if I was advising him, I would urge him to do the following.

Brown's political career in Westminster is over. His only part left on that stage is, potentially, as lead broker in a deal to give Holyrood more powers. North of the Border, however, he is more popular than ever. A glimpse of this was on offer Wednesday when he delivered the speech of his political life. In short, his stock in Scotland has never been higher (don't forget that he increased the Labour vote in Scotland at the 2010 election by over 2% even as it collapsed elsewhere).

So, stand for Westminster in 2015 and ensure that a new Scotland Act is delivered, conferring Holyrood with enhanced powers. At the same time, organise a series of speeches and events to drive a conversation about Britishness and a new settlement for the whole of the United Kingdom. He's already given this a lot of thought.

Next, and that last bit is a pretty tough ask, he should announce he is standing for the Scottish Parliament in May 2016. He should not stand on the list, but solely as a constituency MSP. It is hard to imagine he wouldn't win by a landslide. After this announcement, which would happen in 2015, Scottish Labour would make way for the saviour of the Union to lead the party against the SNP. What a juicy fight it would be too.

My bet is that with him leading Labour, they would win, and win well. Likely in coalition, Brown would be elected First Minister of Scotland.

These is a hard course to plot, but one that is still quite conceivable. In fact, skip out the first part of the plan and he could still fight an election against the SNP in an independent Scotland. It's a harder task to win in that sort of 2016 election, but Scottish Labour would be in need of a figure of Brown's stature.

Why would he do it though? Back to my earlier point - his career in Westminster is dead. This campaign has shown that he still has life in him, and that he clearly lives for the theatre of politics. It's all he's ever known and the buzz from Wednesday's speech will linger for a long time. He yearns for more moments like it.

Becoming First Minister, which will be in his grasp if Scotland votes No, holds major upsides for him. He will be the man credited with saving the Union. He will be the man that delivered more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Across the European Union, countries like Spain will thank him for stemming the separatist tide. Outside the EU, Brown is still viewed favourably as the man who helped lead the world out of the bleak early days of the financial crisis. His standing will only increase in their eyes. A stint as First Minister is a platform to the role he craves - that of elder statesman. He could conceivably set his eyes on the Presidency of the European Union (how he would love that. Take that Blair!) or the leadership of the World Bank. A role at the United Nations, trickier given the UK's history, might be beyond him.

I have never been a big fan of Gordon Brown. In fact, I've never voted Labour in my life. However, whatever my personal feelings, if I was advising Gordon Brown, this is the picture I would paint for him. Like him or loath him, if he is the man that saved the Union, this all becomes quite plausible.

Watch out Salmond. The Clunking Fist of Brown isn't finished with you, or the SNP, just yet.