(Bloomberg) -- Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling, who oversaw Britain’s economy during the 2008 global financial crisis and executed the world’s biggest banking bailout at the time, has died at the age of 70.
“Darling, the much-loved husband of Margaret and beloved father of Calum and Anna, died in Edinburgh this morning after a short spell in the Western General Hospital under the wonderful care of the cancer team,” his spokeswoman said.
Darling served under former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown from 2007 to 2010. His calmness and even temper stood in contrast to Brown’s abrupt mood changes during one of the worst periods of economic tumult in 30 years.
When the US subprime mortgage crisis spread to the UK, causing a liquidity crisis in the banking industry and triggering a run on the British bank Northern Rock, Darling allowed the Bank of England to bail it out. He then led the rescue and nationalization of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, which, he later said, had just hours before it ran out of money.
His stint in the Treasury ended when Labour lost the general election in 2010. Darling later led the Better Together campaign, a cross-party group that successfully campaigned for Scotland to remain part of the UK in the 2014 independence referendum.
At the time, he said he wanted to return to the political front line and fight to keep Scotland in the UK after sitting next to a local businessman at a charity dinner who was reticent about taking up staying in Britain. Darling then became the face of the campaign, clashing with then nationalist leader Alex Salmond.
After becoming an MP in 1987, Darling rose quickly through the Labour ranks and became a key ally of Tony Blair and Brown as they sought to modernize the party and transform it into New Labour, going on to win a landslide victory in 1997. Brown said in a statement that “I, like many relied on his wisdom, calmness in a crisis and his humour.”
As a member of Parliament, Darling represented a district in Edinburgh and was regularly seen in the neighborhood once he’d returned to Scotland. He became a member of the upper House of Lords in 2015.
“He will be remembered as the chancellor whose calm expertise and honesty helped to guide Britain through the tumult of the global financial crisis,” Labour leader Keir Starmer said in a statement. “He was a lifelong advocate for Scotland and the Scottish people and his greatest professional pride came from representing his constituents in Edinburgh.”
--With assistance from Joe Mayes.
(Updates with RBS in first, fourth paragraphs)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.