Political Scotland is a small place. You can’t be a part of it without knowing people from the places in Alistair Darling’s life – Kirkcaldy, Loretto’s, Aberdeen University, Edinburgh City Council.
Exactly like his contemporary Tony Blair, Darling comes from of a wealthy Edinburgh family prominent in Conservative politics in the City. Like Blair, Darling went to one of Edinburgh’s most exclusive private schools.
I take the view that all members of the New Labour cabinet share guilt for the war crimes of aggressive war, torture, apropriation of economic resources, breach of the Geneva Conventions and many others. I detest New Labour with a vengeance for that, and for their assault on civil liberties in the UK. Darling is also much implicated as Brown’s No 2 in the deregulation of the Ponzi banking sector of the economy, which has caused such huge misery now.
But all that said, Darling’s reputation among those who know him, is of a very pleasant, even kind, man. He has other interests in life besides work and politics. He stands out for that in a governrnent full of truly unpleasant, thrusting careerists. Darling has served Gordon Brown with complete loyalty, and never given any hint that Brown was anything to do with the economic disaster that followed Brown’s lengthy Chancellorship.
Brown has several times today refused point blank to confirm that Darling will still have his job next week. If Brown has no intention of moving him, it would do no harm to say so. What purpose would be served by building suspense?
It would wrong to presume that this means Brown will sack Darling. Brown’s habit of intrigue is so ingrained he almost never answers any question openly. Bully Brown may enjoy the feeling of power from making people sweat over the reshuffle, in fear or in expectation.
Nobody believes Darling has had the slightest autonomy from Brown in running the economy. If Brown does indeed stab Darling, in a hopeless effort to save his owm political skin, it will be an act of treachery and monumental ingratitude, particularly as there is less than a year to the election anyway.
But then, nobody in Edinburgh is saying what a nice man Gordon is.