Former UK chancellor Alistair Darling dies at 70

Alistair Darling

Former UK finance minister and veteran Scottish Labour politician Alistair Darling has died aged 70, the Press Association reported.

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 UK chancellor during the financial crisis of 2008.

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

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

UK 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.”

Darling was appointed chancellor of the exchequer by former prime minister Gordon Brown in June 2007, just as the financial crisis was brewing at major financial institutions.

The former lawyer oversaw the UK state rescue of Northern Rock, tackling the first run on a retail bank in the UK since the 19th century.

In October 2008, he led a £37 billion government bailout of Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB and HBOS to help them survive.

Born in 1953, Darling attended the private Loretto School in Musselburgh before studying law at Aberdeen University.

“I never met anyone who didn’t like him,” said former prime minister Tony Blair. “He was highly capable, though modest, understated but never to be underestimated, always kind and dignified even under the intense pressure politics can generate.”