Island Top Trumps #7: Alistair Darling
August 19, 2009 § 5 Comments
Alistair Maclean Darling, born 28 November 1953, is a British politician and Chancellor of the Exchequer since 28 June 2007. He is Labour Party Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South West in Scotland.
Mr Darling’s mother, Anna, grew up in Stornoway and he still returns to vacation regularly at their croft on Great Bernera. The croft has been in the family for many years, dating back to the Chancellor’s great-great-grandfather in the 1850s. Mr Darling even restored the traditional blackhouse faithfully, although he opted for a more modern covering than the original turf roof. It was from here he gave a rather controversial interview to The Guardian.
His parents met in Stornoway in the 1940s when his father, who was a civil engineer, came to Lewis to work on a Herring Processing Factory and the rest as they say is history. With his father’s work, they moved around a lot and Alistair even attended the Nicolson Institute for a time – an experience his mother believes is the key to his great success.
A spokeswoman for Darling said: “It’s where he’s happiest in the world. When he’s sitting in the Treasury and thinks about the island it gives him solace. Every summer other members of the family will want to go to other places but Alistair will use every means he can to get them there.”
Darling is likely to spend some of his time fishing for mackerel in his dinghy, a pursuit he has enjoyed in the past with his cousin Andy Maciver, who is also the island’s most senior Tory.
Describing his earliest island memories he said: “I probably first came up here in about 1954 – we used to come up every July for a month – we would come up through Mallaig and I remember you could smell the peat smoke as you approached the islands. Coming up here was a really big deal, we were living in England at the time and it would take two or three days to get here.”
In a nostalgic mood, he recalls a perilous moment in his childhood in Stornoway which could have had, depending on your point of view, tragic consequences.
“I remember falling into the pier at Stornoway Harbour when I was fishing for cuddies. It was pretty dirty in those days and I was covered in oil and fish. I remember my friend just watching on and my auntie thought I was a gonner but I managed to get out.”
Still up to his neck in murky business, after the 10p Tax debacle and presiding over the worst financial crises in decades, he is currently dismissing calls to reign in excessive pay and bank bonuses stating it was not the government’s role to interfere in wage negotiations. Currently a worker on minimum wage would have to work for about 226 years to receive the same annual pay as a FTSE 100 boss.