The former chancellor Alistair Darling rebuffed an approach by Labour leader Ed Miliband to join the Shadow Cabinet, telling him he was "worn out". He also hinted that he may decide to leave politics for good next year.
Speaking at The Independent Woodstock Literary Festival yesterday about his memoir, Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11, Mr Darling said that he was relishing his time away from front-line politics and would decide "next year" whether to change his career or to contest his Edinburgh South West constituency.
"He [Ed Miliband] asked me was I going to come back, and I told him I was worn out. I said 'I am going to go to the back-benches'," said Mr Darling of the approach from the Labour leader. "I didn't want to be in a position where I am on the Today programme."
Mr Darling's appearance was a highlight of the festival, held in the spacious grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
Mr Darling said he has had no contact with ex-Prime Minister Gordon Brown since before the book was published, earlier this month. His memoir is heavily critical of Mr Brown, with whom he fell out over an August 2008 interview in which the then chancellor warned of the depth of the country's economic woes.
Following speculation over the book's authorship – Mr Darling's wife is former Glasgow Herald journalist Margaret Vaughan – the politician's media adviser, former political journalist Catherine MacLeod, told The Independent she had helped type up sections of notes for the book.
She said Mr Darling did not take a diary so documents relating to his time in power were used for research purposes. But Mr Darling insisted the work was "mine and mine alone".
Of a potential move away from politics he said: "I am a Member of Parliament for the rest of this Parliament. Like anyone else I will decide what I am going to do next year, whether to continue to do what I'm doing or something different. I'm in no hurry."
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