4 Sep 2011

Darling: ‘Chaos and crisis’ under Brown

Former chancellor Alistair Darling’s memoirs reveal a brutal regime at No.10 under Gordon Brown, whose failure to acknowledge the scale of the economic crisis undermined Labour’s economic policy.

In extracts from his memoirs serialised in the Sunday Times, Mr Darling paints a portrait of a prime minister without proper direction, someone who was not clear about what he wanted to do during his premiership.

Mr Darling also claims that in 2008, Prime Minister Brown was convinced that the recession would be over in six months.

In August of that year Mr Darling, then chancellor of the exchequer, told The Guardian newspaper the economic downturn was arguably the worst in 60 years and that it would be “more profound and long-lasting than people thought”.

The problem was that clearly he (Gordon Brown) did not trust my advice, and now he appeared indifferent to what I thought. Alistair Darling

Mr Darling says publication of his views on the state of the economy then prompted a series of press briefings against him by members of Gordon Brown’s inner circle.

“The press was briefed that I had been ‘ordered’ by a furious prime minister to make a public apology, which was simply not true,””Mr Darling writes. Elsewhere he states that the No.10 “briefing machine” told journalists he had “made a hash of it”.

He adds: “If I had known that Gordon believed believed that economic recovery lay around the corner – if he’d told me, his chancellor, this – then we could have had a discussion about it. The problem was that clearly he did not trust my advice, and now he appeared indifferent to what I thought.”

Mr Darling nonetheless claims that he retains a “residual loyalty” towards his former political ally. “At a personal level, we saw a lot of each other over the years, as did our families. We live a few miles apart, separated by the Forth bridges.”

Alistair Darling’s memoir – Back from the Brink, 1,000 Days at Number 11 – is published on 7 September.