Former Edinburgh MP and Chancellor Alistair Darling dies, aged 70

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Former Chancellor and Edinburgh MP passes away after short spell in Western General

Former Labour Chanceller and Edinburgh MP Alistair Darling has died, aged 70.

A statement issued by his family said he had passed away after a short spell in the Western General “under the wonderful care of the cancer team”.

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Mr Darling was Chancellor at the time of the international banking crisis in 2008 and later led the Better Together campaign against independence at the 2014 referendum. After stepping down as an MP, following 28 years in the Commons, he was made a life peer and remained active in politics.

Alistair Darling was Chancellor during the global financial crisis.  Picture: Lewis Whyld/PA WireAlistair Darling was Chancellor during the global financial crisis.  Picture: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
Alistair Darling was Chancellor during the global financial crisis. Picture: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Former prime minster Gordon Brown was one of the first to pay tribute. He said: "I am deeply saddened by the news of the death of Alistair Darling. 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 judgement he brought to the handling of economic affairs.

"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.”

Alistair Darling began his political career in 1982, when he won the Haymarket/Tollcross ward on Lothian Regional Council. When Labour won control from the Tories four years later he became transport convener and cancelled he controversial proposed Western Relief Road, which he described as “basically extending the M8 into Lothian Road”.

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He was elected to Westminster as MP for Edinburgh Central in 1987 and in 1992, when John Smith became leader, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both asked him to join their team – he opted to go with Gordon Brown and when Labour came to power in 1997 he was appointed straight into the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, effectively Mr Brown’s deputy.

He held several Cabinet roles under Tony Blair, including transport, trade and the Scotland Office, and became Chancellor when Gordon Brown took over as prime minister in 2007, playing a key role in dealing with the banking crisis. Labour’s defeat in 2010 saw him go to the back benches. He had moved constituencies to become MP for Edinburgh South West in 2005 after boundary changes saw his old seat abolished.

He was chair of the cross-party Better Together campaign in the 2014 independence referendum, bringing together Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem supporters in successfully opposing the SNP’s plans for a separate Scotland. He was widely seen as having won a televised debate with Alex Salmond during the referendum campaign.

Afer standing down at the 2015 general election, he accepted a seat in the House of Lords, becoming Baron Darling of Roulanish.

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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."