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Alistair Darling/Timelines

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A timeline (or several) relating to Alistair Darling.
  See the Great Recession timeline for a chronology of economic events during the period 2007-2010.

1953 to 1987

  • 1953: Born eldest son of a civil engineer
  • 1966? Loretto public school
  • 1972? Aberdeen University
  • 1977: Joined the Labour party
  • 1978: Solicitor (attorney)
  • 1982: Local government Councillor, Lothian Regional Council
  • 1984: Admitted to Faculty of Advocates
  • 1986: Married to journalist Margaret Vaughan
  • 1987: Elected as MP for Edinburgh Central

1987 to 1997

  • 1988: Opposition spokesman for Home Affairs
  • 1992: Opposition spokesman for Treasury Economic Affairs and the City
  • 1996: Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

1997 to 2007

  • 1997: Chief Secretary to the Treasury
  • 1998: Secretary of State for Social Security
  • 2001: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
  • 2002: Secretary of State for Transport
  • 2003: Secretary of State for Scotland
  • 2006: Secretary of State for Trade and Industry
  • June 2007: Chancellor of the Exchequer

2007 to 2010


  • November: Pre budget report and comprehensive spending review[1] Corporation tax rate to be cut from 30 per cent to 28 per cent. Increases in spending on health and education.
Forecast of GDP growth of 3 per cent in 2007, slowing to 2 to 21⁄2 per cent in 2008, before returning to its trend rate of 21⁄2 to 3 per cent in 2009 and 2010. But ""Financial market disruption presents clear risks to the economic forecast, ... Considerable uncertainty surrounds the timing and extent to which the disruption might affect the wider economy, and the longer it persists, the greater the risk of it detracting from growth."
Loss of confidential personal records [2] Alistair Darling apologises for "extremely serious failure ... to protect sensitive personal data".


  • February: The Northern Rock bank is "nationalised" [3]
  • March: Budget[4][5] "To strengthen the public finances over the next five years, Labour plans to allow the tax burden to increase by 1.0% of national income (£14 billion) and to cut public spending by 0.5% of national income (£7 billion)" (IFS assessment[6]).
  • April: The Bank of England announces its Special Liquidity Scheme to allow banks to swap some of their illiquid assets for liquid Treasury Bills for up to three years [7].
G7 Finance Ministers[8] - at which Alistair Darling advocates a governmental acquisition of banks' toxic debt.
  • August: Guardian interview[9] Britain is facing "arguably the worst" economic downturn in 60 years which will be "more profound and long-lasting" than people had expected. (headlined as "Economy at 60-year low, says Darling") .
  • September: The Bradford and Bingley bank is "nationalised" [10], and the Halifax/Bank of Scotland bank is rescued from bankruptcy by a bid from Lloyds TSB [11]
G7 Finance Ministers Meeting[15] Darling wants other countries should follow the UK's lead and provide loan guarantees to encourage banks to lend to each other.
  • November: [16][17] Pre budget report: A reduction in the rate of value added tax from 17.5% to 15% from 1 December 2008 until 31 December 2009. Output to fall in the first two quarters of 2009, and then to recover.
Shadow chancellor's comment[18]: "one of the greatest deceits ever told to the British public"


  • February: Launch of the Government's Asset Protection Scheme[20] - under which firms are offered protection against banking losses in return for a fee.
  • March: Budget [21] Alistair Darling forecasts a return to growth in the 4th quarter of 2009 and growth of between 1 and 1½ per cent in 2010.
budget speech [22] (IFS statement [23])
Shadow Chancellor's comment[24] "Today we saw a Dishonest Budget from Labour, based on optimistic growth forecasts"
  • May: IMF assessment of UK fiscal policy[25] "The aggressive actions by the authorities have been successful in containing the crisis and averting a systemic breakdown."


  • February: The Fiscal Responsibility Act[1] - imposes a duty on the Treasury to ensure that by the financial year ending 2014 public sector net borrowing as a percentage of GDP is at least halved from its level for the financial year ending 2010, and to make continuing reductions thereafter.
  • March: Budget[26]- a fiscal expansion of 0.5 per cent, followed by contractions of 0.8 per cent each year until 2013/14, by which time the budget deficit would halved.
  • September: Speech to the Labour party annual conference[27] ...they try to con the country into believing the deficit is a result of extravagant spending or reckless decisions. It wasn’t. The deficit is the result of the banking crisis – and the economic crisis that followed it. Borrowing was less, not more, than we forecast. Growth was stronger than we thought..