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Alistair Darling Praised For “Calm Expertise And Honesty” Following Death Aged 70

(Alamy)

5 min read

Labour leader Keir Starmer has paid tribute to Alistair Darling’s “calm expertise and honesty”, following the death of the former Labour chancellor aged 70.

Darling’s family confirmed on Thursday that he died after a short spell in hospital. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are among those who have shared condolences.

Darling served in Blair and Brown’s governments from 1997 until 2010, in roles including transport secretary and secretary of state for Scotland, before leading the Treasury. Between 2012 and 2014 he led the Better Together campaign to keep Scotland in the union. 

Starmer said that Darling – who led the Treasury during the 2008 financial crisis – had lived “a life devoted to public service” and that the former Edinburgh MP 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,” Starmer added.  

Darling served in a number of jobs in Blair's cabinet, including pensions secretary and trade secretary. In a tribute, the former prime minister said he has said he "never met anyone who didn't like him". 

"He was highly capable though modest, understated but never to be underestimated, always kind and dignified even under the intense pressure politics can generate," Blair added.

Sunak, himself a former chancellor, described Darling's death as "a huge loss to us all". 

"He was a dedicated public servant who served this country through challenging times. The role he played during the 2014 independence referendum was vital in keeping our union together," the Prime Minister said. 

Brown said that he is "deeply saddened" by Darling's death, and that he "relied on his wisdom, calmness in a crisis and his humour". 

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar described Darling as his "friend and mentor" and a "giant of the Labour movement". 

"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," Sarwar added.

"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.”

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves also said that she will miss Darling’s “advice and his counsel”. 

“But, more than anything I will miss his friendship, his kindness and decency, his humour and his warmth,” she added. 

Ed Balls, who was shadow chancellor from 2011 to 2015 said that Darling "did politics in the right way and made a difference". 

Speaking on his Political Currency podcast, he said: "At the end of a political career, what you want people to say is, ‘it was a good thing they were there. They made a difference, they made things better’. And you can say that about Alistair Darling."

Balls' co-host and shadow chancellor during Darling's time at the Treasury, George Osborne said that he would be remembered as "someone who brought out the best of politics [...] softly spoken, intelligent. 

"Always trying to do the right thing, not always reaching for the political point scoring," Osborne said. 

Former home secretary Jacqui Smith said she feels "grateful to have worked alongside" Darling and to have "benefited from his calm wisdom and his warm, humble approach to colleagues". 

Foreign Secretary and former prime minister David Cameron was leader of the opposition during Darling's time as chancellor, and he has  described the Labour politician as a "thoroughly kind and decent man". 

"We owe him a huge debit of gratitude for chairing the Better Together campaign ahead of the referendum in 2014. He led the campaign with great distinction and tenacity, securing Scotland’s place in our Union," Cameron said. 

Current Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said it is a "sad day" in his tribute to "one of the great chancellors". 

"He’ll be remembered for doing the right thing for the country at a time of extraordinary turmoil," Hunt added. 

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf also said that he was “deeply saddened” by the news. 

“He dedicated his life to public service and was a giant of Scottish politics,” the SNP leader posted on social media this afternoon.

 

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