Alistair Darling was an unexpected giant of the New Labour government. At the start, he was chief secretary to the Treasury, one of the most junior members of the cabinet, thought to have secured the post because he was part of Gordon Brown’s party within a party.
In fact, he had supported Tony Blair for the leadership, in preference to Brown, and it was a tribute to his political skill that he was able to maintain a close relationship with both poles of the twin-axis government.
Being seen as a Brownite took him to the department of work and pensions, which the chancellor saw as part of his empire. Darling secured his reputation for competence and reliability when he was moved to transport, which he stabilised after the disruption of Stephen Byers’s exit – over problems that no one can now remember, and which seem trivial in comparison with the turbulence of the Tory years.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies