Tributes flood in for former Chancellor Alistair Darling who died today, by Alistair Thompson

The Former Chancellor, Alistair Darling has died following a short illness aged 70, his family his family has said.

Mr Darling, who was an MP from 1987-2015 served as Gordon Brown’s Chancellor between 2007 – 2010.

He was a popular figure in Westminster and was widely credited with expertly leading the victorious Better Together campaign in the 2014 independence referendum

In 2015, he stood down from his much-loved Edinburgh seat and was ennobled shortly after.

He also served as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 2006 – 07, Secretary of State for Scotland 2003 – 06,  Secretary of State for Transport 2002 – 06, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 1998 – 2002 and Chief Secretary of the Treasury 1997 – 98.

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.”

Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party, 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.”

Baroness Smith, the Labour leader in the Lords, looked shaken and stunned when she was alerted to the breaking news on the BBC’s Politics Live.

She described him as “a man of enormous stature of big brain and a lovely turn of phrase”.

She added: “His friends and colleagues will just feel a massive sense of loss and he had a lot more to give.

“There are lots of good memories from difficult times, it’s in difficult times where people rise to the occasion or they fail and Alistair really rose to the occasion.

“It was the most challenging of situations and I was glad that he was the one in charge. He may have been boring at the dispatch box but he wasn’t in private and he was very good at what he did.

“You never got a sense that he was panicking at any time, you just got a sense that there was a job to be done.”

The Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron commented: “Incredibly sad to hear that Alistair Darling has passed away. Alistair was a thoroughly kind and decent man. Despite us representing opposing parties, I always valued his immense contribution and enjoyed working with him too. 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. He has left us far too early. My thoughts and prayers are with Maggie and his children, Calum and Anna.”

Tim Shipman, a leading journalist from the Sunday Times, posted on X (formally Twitter), “Westminster is full of cranks, weirdos, fanatics and bastards. Some of them are close friends of mine. But it is also home to people with a strong sense of public service, pleasant even under pressure and fundamentally decent. Alistair Darling was one of the latter. RIP”. 

Andrew Neil, the top political commentator and broadcaster also posted on X saying, “So sorry to learn of death of Alistair Darling. Proud Scot. Proud Brit. Lovely man. Good company. Excellent Chancellor. A life well lived in public service. RIP Alistair”.

Scottish Labour Leader, Anas Sarwar, posted a lengthy message that started by saying he was “Heartbroken to hear of the passing of my friend and mentor Alistair Darling”.

And former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, commented: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Alistair Darling. I, like many relied on his wisdom, calmness in a crisis and his humour. I send my deepest condolences to his loving wife Maggie and their children Calum and Anna. He will be missed by all who knew him”.

While former Prime Minister Tony Blair, added: “Alistair Darling was a rarity in politics. I 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. He was the safest of safe hands. I knew he could be given any position in the cabinet and be depended upon. I liked him and respected him immensely as a colleague and as a friend.

“In all the jobs he did for me in government – Chief Secretary, Work and Pensions, Transport, Trade and Industry, and of course as Secretary of State for Scotland – he was outstanding. He could take tough decisions on spending when he needed to, but as he did with Crossrail, when convinced of a project’s importance, he would be equally tough in supporting it. 

“I remember him with huge affection. He has been taken from us far too soon. My deepest condolences to Maggie, to Calum and to Anna”.

Concluding, Rishi Sunak posted on X: “Alistair Darling’s passing is 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. My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends at this difficult time”.

Alistair Thompson

Alistair Thompson is the Director of Team Britannia PR and a journalist.