Siddhesh Joshi (Editor)

Alistair Darling

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Prime Minister  Gordon Brown
Preceded by  Alan Johnson
Preceded by  Gordon Brown
Name  Alistair Darling

Succeeded by  George Osborne
Education  University of Aberdeen
Prime Minister  Tony Blair
Party  Labour Party
Alistair Darling wwwalistairdarlingmporgukalistairdarlingjpg

Succeeded by  John Hutton (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform)
Role  Former Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom
Spouse  Margaret Vaughan (m. 1986)
People also search for  Gordon Brown, Margaret Vaughan, Anna Darling, Calum Darling, Alastair Campbell
Children  Anna Darling, Calum Darling
Books  Back from the Brink: 1000 Days at Number 11

Uk indy ref campaigners doorstep gordon brown and mp alistair darling in glasgow

Alistair Maclean Darling, Baron Darling of Roulanish, PC (born 28 November 1953) is a Labour Party politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 2007-2010 and as a Member of Parliament (MP) from 1987 until he stepped down in 2015, most recently for Edinburgh South West. He was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 2007-10, and was one of only three people to have served in the Cabinet continuously from Labour's landslide victory at the 1997 general election until their defeat at the 2010 general election, the other two people being; Gordon Brown and Jack Straw.


Alistair Darling Iceland will take many years to clear its debt to Britain

Darling was first appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997, before being promoted to become Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in 1998. After spending four years at that department, he spent a further four years as Secretary of State for Transport, while also becoming Secretary of State for Scotland in 2003. Blair moved Darling for a final time in 2006, making him President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, before new Prime Minister Gordon Brown promoted Darling to replace himself as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2007, a position he remained in until 2010.

Alistair Darling Alistair Darling Tories have misled voters on spending

From 2012-14, Darling was the Chairman of the Better Together Campaign, a cross-party group that successfully campaigned for Scotland to vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in the 2014 independence referendum. On 3 November 2014, Darling announced that he was standing down at the 2015 general election. He was nominated for a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours and was created Baron Darling of Roulanish, of Great Bernera in the County of Ross and Cromarty, on 1 December 2015.

Alistair Darling Alistair Darling sexiest man in politics

Keynote Session by Lord Alistair Darling, Former MP and Former Chancellor, UK

Early life

Alistair Darling was born in London the son of a civil engineer, Thomas, and his wife, Anna MacLean. He is the great-nephew of Sir William Darling, a Conservative/Unionist Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South (1945–1957). He was educated in Kirkcaldy, and at the private Loretto School, in Musselburgh, then attended the University of Aberdeen where he was awarded a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B). He became the President of Aberdeen University Students' Representative Council.

He joined the Labour Party aged 23, in 1977. He became a solicitor in 1978, then changed course for the Scots bar and was admitted as an advocate in 1984. He was elected as a councillor to the Lothian Regional Council in 1982 where he supported large rates rises in defiance of Margaret Thatcher's rate-capping laws and even threatened not to set a rate at all. He served on the council until he was elected to the House of Commons. He was also a board member for the Lothian and Borders Police and became a governor of Napier College in 1985, until his election as an MP two years later.

Member of Parliament

He first entered Parliament at the 1987 general election in Edinburgh Central defeating the incumbent Conservative MP, Sir Alexander Fletcher by 2,262 votes; and remained as the constituency's MP until he stood down in 2015.

After the creation of the devolved Scottish Parliament, the number of Scottish seats at Westminster was reduced, and the Edinburgh Central constituency he represented; was abolished. After the 2005 general election he represented the Edinburgh South West constituency. The Labour Party was so concerned that Darling might be defeated, several senior party figures, including Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Chancellor Gordon Brown, made encouragement trips to the constituency during the election campaign. Despite being a senior Cabinet Minister, Darling was hardly seen outside the area, as he was making the maximum effort to win his seat. In the event, he won it with a majority of 7,242 over the second-placed Conservative candidate, a 16.49% margin on a 65.4% turnout.

Shadow Cabinet

As a backbencher he sponsored the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1988. He soon became an Opposition Home Affairs spokesman in 1988 on the frontbench of Neil Kinnock.

After the 1992 general election, he became a spokesman on Treasury Affairs until being promoted to Tony Blair's Shadow Cabinet as the Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 1996.

In government

Following the 1997 general election, he entered Cabinet as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. In 1998, he was made the Secretary of State for Social Security replacing Harriet Harman who had been dismissed. After the 2001 general election, the Department of Social Security was abolished and replaced with the new Department for Work and Pensions, which also took employment away from the education portfolio, Darling fronted the new department until 2002 when he was moved to the Department for Transport; after his predecessor Stephen Byers resigned.

Secretary of State for Transport

Darling was given a brief to "take the department out of the headlines". He oversaw the creation of Network Rail, the successor to Railtrack, which had collapsed in controversial circumstances for which his predecessor was largely blamed. He also procured the passage of the legislation – the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 – which abolished the Rail Regulator and replaced it with the Office of Rail Regulation. He was responsible for the Railways Act 2005 which abolished the Strategic Rail Authority, a creation of the Labour government under the Transport Act 2000. Darling was also responsible for the cancellation of several major Light Rail schemes, including a major extension to Manchester Metrolink (later reversed) and the proposed Leeds Supertram, citing rising costs of £620m and £486m respectively. Darling gave the government's support to the Crossrail scheme for an East-West rail line under London, whose £10,000,000,000 projected cost later rose to £15,000,000,000.

Although he was not at the Department for Transport at the time of the collapse of Railtrack, Darling vigorously defended what had been done in a speech to the House of Commons on 24 October 2005. This included the making of threats to the independent Rail Regulator that if he intervened to defend the company against the government's attempts to force it into railway administration – a special status for insolvent railway companies – the government would introduce emergency legislation to take the regulator under direct political control. This stance by Darling surprised many observers because during his tenure at the Department for Transport, he had made several statements to Parliament and the financial markets assuring them that the government regarded independence in economic regulation of the railways as essential.

Secretary of State for Scotland

In 2003, when the Scotland Office was folded into the Department for Constitutional Affairs, he was made Scottish Secretary in combination with his Transport portfolio.

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry

In the Cabinet reshuffle of May 2006, he was moved to the position of Secretary of State for Trade and Industry; Douglas Alexander replaced him as both Secretary of State for Transport and Secretary of State for Scotland. On 10 November 2006 in a mini-reshuffle, Malcolm Wicks, the Minister for Energy at the Department of Trade and Industry and therefore one of Darling's junior ministers, was appointed Minister for Science. Darling took over day-to-day control of the Energy portfolio.

Chancellor of the Exchequer

In June 2007, the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown appointed Darling Chancellor of the Exchequer, a promotion widely anticipated in the media. Journalists observed that three of Darling's four junior ministers at the Treasury (Angela Eagle, Jane Kennedy and Kitty Ussher) were female and dubbed his team, "Darling's Darlings".

In September 2007, for the first time since 1860, there was a run on a British bank, Northern Rock. Although the Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority have jurisdiction in such cases, ultimate authority for deciding on financial support for a bank in exceptional circumstances rests with the Chancellor. The 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis had caused a liquidity crisis in the UK banking industry, and Northern Rock was unable to borrow as required by its business model. Darling authorised the Bank of England to lend Northern Rock funds to cover its liabilities and provided an unqualified taxpayers' guarantee of the deposits of savers in Northern Rock in an attempt to stop the run. Northern Rock borrowed up to £20,000,000,000 from the Bank of England, and Darling was criticised for becoming sucked into a position where so much public money was tied up in a private company.

In March 2008, Darling was criticised in some circles for the Budget by a media campaign spread by a social networking site. Amid anger at the rise in alcohol duties, James Hughes, a landlord in Edinburgh (where Darling's constituency was based) symbolically barred Darling from his pub, and a passing reporter from the Edinburgh Evening News ran the story. A Facebook group was created, leading dozens of pubs across Britain to follow Hughes, barring Darling from their pubs. The story was eventually picked up by most national press and broadcast media in Britain, and David Cameron, Leader of the Opposition at the time, cited the movement at Prime Minister's Questions on 26 March.

Child benefit data scandal

Darling was Chancellor when the confidential personal details of over 25,000,000 British citizens went missing while being sent from his department to the National Audit Office. A former Scotland Yard detective stated that with the current rate of £2.50 per person's details this data could have been sold for £60,000,000. The acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vince Cable, put the value at £1.5bn, or £60 per identity.

Storm warning

In an interview in The Guardian published 30 August 2008, Alistair Darling warned, "The economic times we are facing... are arguably the worst they've been in 60 years. And I think it's going to be more profound and long-lasting than people thought." His blunt warning led to confusion within the Labour Party. However, Darling insisted that it was his duty to be "straight" with people.

Budget 2008

On 12 March 2008, Darling gave his first budget in the House of Commons.

10% income tax band

Darling's predecessor, Gordon Brown, just prior to becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, axed the 10% starting rate on income tax and reduced the basic rate income tax band from 22% to 20% in his final budget on 21 March 2007 which was to come into effect in the tax year starting 6 April 2008. This was not amended in Darling's 2008 budget. Although the majority of taxpayers would become marginally better off as a result of these changes, around 5,100,000 low earners (including those earning less than £18,000 annually) would have financially suffered. On 18 October 2007, the Treasury released statistics which established that childless people on low incomes could lose up to £200 a year as a result of the changes, while parents and those earning more than £20,000 would gain money.

Increasing political backlash to the additional tax burden put immense pressure onto the government; including the new Chancellor Darling with Gordon Brown facing criticism from his own Parliamentary Labour Party. In May 2008 Darling announced he would help low-paid workers hit by the scrapping of the 10p rate, by raising this year's personal tax allowance by £600 funded by borrowing £2,700,000,000.

Stimulus spending

To boost falling demand, the government announced an additional £20bn spending package. Subsequently, Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, warned the government against further stimulus spending, due to insecure public finances.

Budget 2009

On 22 April 2009, Darling delivered his second budget speech in the House of Commons. To stimulate the motor industry, a £2,000 allowance was announced for a car more than 10 years old, if it was traded in for a new car. A 50% tax band was announced for earners of over £150,000 to start the following tax year.

Budget 2010

Gordon Brown confirmed on 10 March 2010 that Alistair Darling would deliver his Third budget before the general election, which was delivered on 24 March 2010.

Later activities

Following the defeat of the Labour Party at the 2010 general election, Darling announced that he intended to leave frontbench politics. On 17 May 2010, it was reported that he stated: "It has been an honour and a tremendous privilege but I believe it is time for me to return to the backbenches from where I shall look after, with great pride, the constituents of Edinburgh South West."

Darling suggested on 7 September 2010 on the Daily Politics show, that he was only intending to take a "year out" and may possibly reconsider his future.

Expenses claims

In May 2009, The Daily Telegraph reported that Darling changed the designation of his second home four times in four years, allowing him to claim for the costs of his family home in Edinburgh, and to buy and furnish a flat in London including the cost of stamp duty and other legal fees. Darling said that "the claims were made within House of Commons rules".

Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, criticised him by saying: "given that very unique responsibility that [Darling] has [as Chancellor], it's simply impossible for him to continue in that role when such very major question marks are being raised about his financial affairs". A former Chairman and treasurer of the Scottish Labour Party described Darling's position as "untenable" and said that "[Darling] certainly shouldn't be in the Cabinet".

On 1 June 2009, Darling apologised "unreservedly" about a mistaken claim for £700, which he had agreed to repay. He was supported by the Prime Minister, who referred to the incident as an inadvertent mistake.

In 2010, he resigned from the Faculty of Advocates as they were investigating his financial affairs.

Better Together campaign

Darling was the Chairman and one of the directors of the Better Together campaign, which campaigned for a "No" vote in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence. He was involved in the campaign's launch in June 2012, delivered a speech on the subject in the annual John P Mackintosh lecture in November 2012, and addressed a fringe meeting at the Scottish Conservative Conference in June 2013. In August 2014, Darling took part in Salmond & Darling: The Debate and Scotland Decides: Salmond versus Darling, televised debates with First Minister Alex Salmond on the pros and cons of Scottish Independence.

Darling was criticised by some Scottish Labour MPs and supporters who believed that working with Conservatives on the Better Together campaign might damage Labour's prospects in Scotland. At the general election a year after the referendum, Labour lost all but one of their seats in Scotland to the SNP, with swings of over 30% in several seats, including a UK record swing of 39.3% against Labour in Glasgow North East.

Personal life

Darling had a brief previous marriage when young, but has been married to former journalist Margaret McQueen Vaughan since 1986; the couple have a son (Calum, born 1988) and daughter (Anna, born 1990). Margaret Vaughan worked for Radio Forth, the Daily Record and Glasgow Herald until Labour's election victory in 1997. Darling's media adviser, the former Herald political journalist, Catherine MacLeod, is a close friend of Vaughan and Darling, as well as being a long-standing Labour Party supporter. A sister Jane works as a cook and lives in Edinburgh. Darling has admitted to smoking cannabis in his youth.

He enjoys listening to Pink Floyd, Coldplay, Leonard Cohen and recently to the American rock band The Killers.

Styles of address

  • 1953–1987: Mr Alistair Darling
  • 1987–1997: Mr Alistair Darling
  • 1997–2015: The Rt Hon. Alistair Darling
  • 2015: The Rt Hon. Alistair Darling
  • 2015–: The Rt Hon. The Lord Darling of Roulanish
  • References

    Alistair Darling Wikipedia