18 December 2023

Life of Alistair Darling to be celebrated at memorial service in Edinburgh

18 December 2023

Mourners will gather in Edinburgh on Tuesday to bid farewell to former chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling.

A memorial service will be held at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in the Scottish capital at 11am after a private cremation took place on Monday.

Among those in attendance will be former prime ministers Sir Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and the current shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves.

Mr Darling died on November 30, aged 70, following a stay in hospital where he was being treated for cancer.

Piper Finlay MacDonald will provide music before the service begins alongside pieces from classical composers Johannes Brahms and Johann Sebastian Bach.

A choir will sing the hymns In The Bleak Midwinter, Love Divine and Jerusalem.

Mr Darling’s children, Anna and Calum, will read eulogies, as will friend and former Labour minister Brian Wilson and Rachel Reeves.

Mr Darling served as a Labour MP between 1987 and 2015, first for Edinburgh Central and then for Edinburgh South West.

Most notably, he was chancellor during the turbulent 2008 financial crisis and was widely credited for his “calmness in a crisis”.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown described Mr Darling as a “statesman of unimpeachable integrity whose life was defined by a strong sense of social justice”.

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

Mr Darling also chaired the Better Together campaign to keep Scotland in the UK in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum, again working closely with Mr Brown.

He also served in Tony Blair’s government, first as chief secretary to the Treasury before taking on the work and pensions brief in 1998.

He was appointed as Transport Secretary in 2002 and as Scotland secretary in 2003 before being appointed as chancellor in 2007.

His death last month prompted tributes from across the political spectrum, from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to First Minister Humza Yousaf, who described him as a “giant” of Scottish politics.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer paid tribute to him, saying his loss to the party would be “immeasurable”.

“Alistair lived a life devoted to public service,” Sir Keir said.

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

He added: “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.”

Mr Darling is survived by his wife, Maggie and his two children.

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