The death of Alistair Darling, the former chancellor and leader of the Better Together campaign, has left many people in shock and grief. He was a respected politician, a loyal colleague, and a warm-hearted friend. In this article, we will look at some of the tributes and memories that have been shared by those who knew him well.
A Remarkable Career
Alistair Darling was born in London in 1953, but grew up in Edinburgh, where he attended the prestigious Loretto School. He studied law at the University of Aberdeen, where he was involved in left-wing student activism. He became an advocate in 1984, and was elected to the Lothian Regional Council in 1982.
He entered parliament in 1987, representing Edinburgh Central, and later Edinburgh South West. He quickly rose through the ranks of the Labour Party, becoming a close ally of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He held several cabinet positions, including Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Secretary of State for Transport, Secretary of State for Scotland, and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
He became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2007, when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister. He faced the challenge of dealing with the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, and the subsequent Great Recession. He was praised for his calm and competent handling of the situation, and for his honesty and integrity. He also played a key role in securing the UK’s participation in the G20 summit in London in 2009, which helped to coordinate the international response to the crisis.
He remained Chancellor until 2010, when the Labour Party lost the general election. He then became the Shadow Chancellor, and later the leader of the Better Together campaign, which opposed Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum. He was widely credited for his effective and persuasive arguments, and for his respectful and dignified tone. He retired from parliament in 2015, and was made a life peer as Baron Darling of Roulanish.
He died on 30 November 2023, aged 70, after a short spell in hospital. His family said he was a “much loved husband, father, grandfather and friend”.
A Generous Friend
Many of those who worked with Alistair Darling have expressed their admiration and affection for him, and their sadness at his passing. Gordon Brown, who was his friend for over 40 years, said that he was “one of the finest and most decent men I ever worked with”. He also said that he was “a man of deep principle and values who always did what he thought was right for our country”.
Tony Blair, who appointed him to several cabinet posts, said that he was “a wonderful colleague, a great friend and a person of immense ability, character and decency”. He also said that he was “a superb public servant who gave his all for the country he loved”.
Harriet Harman, who served with him as Shadow Chancellor, said that he was “a brilliant chancellor who steered us through the worst financial crisis in living memory”. She also said that he was “a kind and generous friend who always had time for others”.
Ed Miliband, who led the Labour Party from 2010 to 2015, said that he was “a towering figure in British politics and a good and loyal friend”. He also said that he was “a man of great intellect, integrity and humour who will be sorely missed”.
Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland and the leader of the Scottish National Party, said that she was “deeply saddened” by his death, and that he was “a formidable opponent and a passionate advocate for his cause”. She also said that he was “a thoroughly decent and kind man who I liked and respected very much”.
A Lasting Legacy
Alistair Darling will be remembered as one of the most influential and respected politicians of his generation, who made a lasting impact on the UK and the world. He was a leader who faced difficult and unprecedented challenges with courage and competence, and who always acted with honesty and integrity. He was a friend who was generous and supportive, and who always had a smile and a joke. He was a man who loved his family and his country, and who dedicated his life to public service.
He leaves behind his wife Margaret, his two children, and his four grandchildren, as well as countless friends and admirers. He also leaves behind a legacy of achievement and inspiration, and a reputation of excellence and decency.