Former chancellor and veteran Labour politician Alistair Darling has died aged 70, a spokesperson on behalf of his family said.
The former Scottish secretary served in various roles throughout his four-decade career and played a key role during the 2014 Scottish independence campaign.
A statement issued on behalf of the family of former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling 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.
STV News at Six: Colin Mackay on Alistair Darling’s legacy
“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.”
‘A lifelong advocate for Scotland’
Former prime minister Gordon Brown said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of the veteran politician, who served as his chancellor.
“I, like many, relied on his wisdom, calmness in a crisis and his humour,” 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.
A brief history of Alistair Darling
- Born in London, Alistair Darling spent his formative years in Edinburgh
- Attended the city’s exclusive Loretto private boarding school
- Studied law at the University of Aberdeen where he became student president
- Joined the Labour Party aged 23, in 1977
- Elected to the Lothian Regional Council in 1982
- Became an MP in 1987 for Edinburgh Central
- Served as Scottish secretary from 2003 under Tony Blair
- Appointed chancellor by Gordon Brown in 2007
- Was chair of Better Together campaign during the 2014 independence referendum
- Became a peer in 2015 before stepping down in 2020
“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.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Darling “lived a life devoted to public service” and he would be remembered for guiding Britain through the global financial crisis with “calm expertise and honesty”.
He 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.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar pays tribute to Alistair Darling
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he was “heartbroken”.
“Alistair was a giant of the Labour movement, a titanic force for good and a man I was proud to consider a friend and a mentor,” he said.
“From his time as Secretary of State for Scotland to being the Chancellor that led the UK through the financial crisis, Alistair Darling was dedicated to public service and improving the lives of those less fortunate.
“At a time of division for Scotland, Alistair led the Better Together campaign with kindness, intelligence and good humour – it was a job he did not want to do, but he believed he was doing a service for Scotland.
“Alistair’s life was one spent in the service of the people of Scotland and the UK – the Labour family and our country will sorely mourn his passing.”
‘A giant of Scottish politics’
First Minister Humza Yousaf paid tribute to the late politician, saying: “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.”
Former first minister Alex Salmond said Darling had been a “formidable opponent” on behalf of the Better Together Campaign.
“This is very sad news,” he said, “Alistair Darling was a hugely significant figure in UK politics. I always found him an effective politician.
“He became Chancellor at an extremely difficult period but he presented as a calm and authoritative figure during the financial crisis.”
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn MP said: “The public deserve politicians who act with courage and on the basis of their convictions – Alistair Darling certainly displayed those qualities throughout his career in public life and will rightly be remembered by many.
“My thoughts are very much with his family, friends and Labour Party colleagues.”
Darling was “one of the great chancellors”, Jeremy Hunt, the current occupant of 11 Downing Street, said.
The Chancellor 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.”
During the independence campaign, he became the face of the cross-party unionist campaign group Better Together.
The former Edinburgh South West MP served under prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Bown throughout his time in the House of Commons.
He was an MP from 1987 to 2015 and was chancellor during the financial crisis of 2008.
He later entered the House of Lords before retiring in 2020.
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