Back from the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11, by Alistair Darling, Atlantic Books, RRP£9.99, 339 pages
As chancellor during Gordon Brown’s premiership, Alistair Darling made bold political interventions to limit the damage of the 2008-09 banking meltdown, and his account of that period is detailed and absorbing.
With frantic Treasury meetings, panicked banks and queues outside branches of Northern Rock, there’s certainly plenty of tension – but overall a tone of regret pervades this fascinating memoir.
Brown insisted on a crisis management story about public investment rather than cuts, but Darling’s approach (of balancing both) delivered growth in 2009-10. Steady and managerial rather than charismatic, Darling gives due credit to Treasury officials.
He also presents the case for Labour’s economic management, while analysing the fractious relationship with Brown that clearly hampered his own political progress.
This updated edition is, unsurprisingly, scathing about the current Conservative chancellor George Osborne and his first Budget.