Alastair Maclean Darling


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(b. London, 28 Nov. 1953)

British; Chancellor of the Exchequer 2007–  Although Darling was born in England, he attended the prestigious Loretto School (Scotland's oldest boarding school) near Edinburgh before studying law at the University of Aberdeen. Initially working as a solicitor, he then became an advocate at the Scots bar in 1984. He had joined the Labour Party in 1977 and was elected to Lothian Regional Council in 1982. In 1987 he was elected to parliament, and shortly afterwards became a Labour Party spokesman, serving as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 1996. Following Labour's success at the 1997 general election, Darling was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Tony Blair's first cabinet. Over the next few years Darling held a number of cabinet positions: Chief Secretary to the Treasury 1997–8, Secretary of State for Social Security 1998–2001, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 2001–2, Secretary of State for Transport 2002–6, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry 2006–7, and also Secretary of State for Scotland 2003–6. After Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in 2007, Darling took over from him as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Darling has not had an easy time at the Treasury. Shortly after his arrival the Northern Rock bank faced financial difficulties and the government had to rescue it and guarantee savers' funds to stop the beginnings of a run on the bank. This marked the start of a worldwide economic downturn. In 2008 the financial position deteriorated and the government had to borrow huge sums both to support financial institutions that would otherwise have collapsed and to make up for its own declining revenue. His prediction in August 2008 that the UK was facing the worst recession for 100 years had become a reality and he had to take many steps to maintain economic stability. Darling is one of the few people to serve at Cabinet level throughout Labour's period in office from 1997.

Subjects: Politics.

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