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30 November 2023

Former chancellor Alistair Darling dies aged 70

30 November 2023

Former chancellor and veteran Labour politician Alistair Darling has died aged 70.

The long-serving MP died after spending time in hospital being treated for cancer, a spokesman for his family said.

A statement issued on behalf of his family said: “The death of Alistair Darling, a former chancellor of the Exchequer and long-serving member of the Labour cabinet, was announced in Edinburgh today.

“Mr Darling, the much-loved husband of Margaret and beloved father of Calum and Anna, died after a short spell in Western General Hospital under the wonderful care of the cancer team.”

He served as a Labour MP from 1987 to 2015 and was chancellor during the financial crisis of 2008.

He retired from the House of Lords in 2020 just five years after being appointed a life peer.

Mr Darling led the pro-Union Better Together campaign in the run-up to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Alistair Darling. My heart goes out to his family, particularly Maggie, Calum and Anna, whom he loved so dearly.

“Alistair lived a life devoted to public service. He will be remembered as the chancellor whose calm expertise and honesty helped to guide Britain through the tumult of the global financial crisis.

“He was a lifelong advocate for Scotland and the Scottish people and his greatest professional pride came from representing his constituents in Edinburgh.

“I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have benefited from Alistair’s counsel and friendship. He was always at hand to provide advice built on his decades of experience – always with his trademark wry, good humour.

“Alistair will be missed by all those whose lives he touched. His loss to the Labour Party, his friends and his family is immeasurable.”

Gordon Brown, prime minister during Mr Darling’s time as chancellor, said he was “deeply saddened” by his death.

He said: “Alistair will be remembered as a statesman of unimpeachable integrity whose life was defined by a strong sense of social justice and who gained a global reputation for the assured competence and the exercise of considered judgment he brought to the handling of economic affairs.”

Mr Brown said that as chancellor from 2007 to 2010 Mr Darling “guided the Treasury and the United Kingdom through traumatic financial events”.

He added: “He was held in the highest esteem by me and all who worked with him for the way in which he handled the fall of the major banks and negotiated international agreements with fellow finance ministers.

“I, like many, relied on his wisdom, calmness in a crisis and his humour.”

Mr Brown said Mr Darling was “resolute and courageous in making the case for Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom” as chairman of the Better Together Campaign.

He added: “Alistair’s family were central to everything he did. I send my deepest condolences to his loving wife Maggie and their children Calum and Anna. He will be missed by all who knew and respected him and benefited from the great work he did.”

Former prime minister Sir John Major said Mr Darling will be “much missed across the political spectrum”.

He said: “Alistair was a decent man who brought civility, reason and intelligence to politics.

“He was an adornment to Parliament – both in government and in opposition – and a fine example for others to follow.”

Jeremy Hunt, the current occupant of 11 Downing Street, said: “One of the great chancellors, he’ll be remembered for doing the right thing for the country at a time of extraordinary turmoil.

“My deepest sympathies to his family.”

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf also paid tribute.

He posted on X, formerly Twitter: “I am deeply saddened to hear of Alistair’s passing. He dedicated his life to public service and was a giant of Scottish politics.

“My thoughts with his wife Margaret, children, family, friends and colleagues at this sad time.”

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