Politicians from across the spectrum are paying tribute to the "formidable" Alistair Darling, who died yesterday aged 70.

The former University of Aberdeen student, who celebrated his landmark birthday on Tuesday, had been a member of the Labour Party since he was 23.

A statement issued in Edinburgh on behalf of Darling’s family said: “Alistair Darling, the much-loved husband of Margaret and beloved father of Calum and Anna, died after a short spell in Western General hospital under the wonderful care of the cancer team.”

Mr Darling represented Edinburgh, and latterly Edinburgh South West, as their MP for 28 years.

He also served in a number of high-profile roles in Westminster.

He was appointed chief secretary to the treasury in 1997 under Tony Blair, before serving as work and pensions secretary, transport secretary and Scottish secretary.

"I never met anyone who didn't like him. He was highly capable though modest, understated but never to be underestimated, always kind and dignified even under the intense pressure politics can generate," said Mr Blair.

Mr Darling's biggest job in Westminster was as chancellor of the exchequer. Serving nearly three years under Gordon Brown, he delivered three budgets before his party were ousted in 2010.

"In times of crisis Alistair was the person you would want in the room because he was calm and he was considered and he had great integrity," Mr Brown told the BBC.

Away from Westminster, perhaps Mr Darling's lasting impact on Scotland and the UK was preserving the union after he lead the Better Together campaign ahead of the 2014 Independence Referendum.

He was a staple on Scottish TV a decade ago, debating against then-First Minister and leader of the SNP Alex Salmond and numerous occasions.

While the pair were involved in heated arguments on stage, Mr Salmond has nothing but praise for his former opponent.

"He was a formidable campaigner for Better Together.

"We had some pretty intense debates of course, but I can honestly say about Alistair that outwith these debates we never exchanged a cross word because Alistair was an extremely courteous man."

During the financial crisis of 2008, Mr Salmond said he and Mr Darling had a number of exchanges which were "equally cordial, even when we disagreed".

Mr Salmond said: "The most important thing, whatever policies you're pursuing when things are really up against it, is to present a calm image that you are in charge of things even when things are at the point of total collapse.

"And I thought that Alistair did that very well because that's the most difficult job of all - to stay calm when everybody about you is losing their heads."

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