Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Saturday, 30 August 2008 14:36 UK

Darling speaks of Wendy 'respect'

Chancellor Alistair Darling
Chancellor Alistair Darling was interviewed by Brian Taylor

The UK chancellor has spoken following a newspaper article quoting him predicting economic doom and rounding on a former Scottish Labour leader.

Alistair Darling spoke to the BBC to explain The Guardian interview in which he said the UK faced the worst economic crisis in 60 years.

He also attempted to clarify a comment attributed to him that Wendy Alexander was not a likeable person.

First Minister Alex Salmond has dubbed the newspaper article "ridiculous".

The SNP leader said: "Scotland's economy is showing real resilience in what are challenging times, and Mr Darling's ridiculous interview is in danger of dragging everyone down to the Labour Party's own level - just as his hesitation on stamp duty froze the housing market.

DARLING TV INTERVIEW
BT: "You are fairly rude in the Guardian about a couple of colleagues - you think Wendy Alexander is unlikeable."
AD: "I have got the utmost admiration for Wendy and the problems she went through."
BT: "But you don't like her very much?"
AD: "I didn't say that at all."
BT: "You said she's unlikeable - are they quoting you wrong?"
AD: "No, I have the utmost respect for her and I thoroughly enjoy her encounters whenever we have them."
BT: "But you said she's unlikeable?"
AD: "No I didn't."
BT: "You didn't say that, The Guardian are misquoting you?"
AD: "Brian, I have the utmost regard for Wendy and I will continue to have it and that remains my position."

"What is needed from Alistair Darling is action for economic recovery - not words about economic depression."

Mr Darling told The Guardian's Weekend magazine that the economic downturn would be more "profound and long-lasting" than most people had feared.

He said that voters were "pissed off" with Labour's handling of the economy, a key issue at the next election, and said it was "absolutely imperative" that ministers communicated their intentions better.

But in a follow-up television interview with BBC Scotland's political editor, Brian Taylor, Mr Darling said the UK faced a unique set of circumstances.

He explained: "What is unprecedented in recent times is the coming together of the unique set of circumstances where you have a profound credit crunch - that's affecting every country in the world - and the very high oil and rising food prices.

The chancellor denies saying Wendy Alexander is 'unlikeable'

"Those two things have not come together at the same time and this is what is affecting us, it's affecting every developed country."

But he added that the current government differed from past ones because it was prepared to "take action to help the economy and to help people get through this difficult time".

Mr Darling was also asked in the BBC interview why he had called Ms Alexander, who resigned from her post as Scottish Labour leader in June, "not likeable at all".

The MP for Edinburgh South West repeated three times that he had the "utmost admiration and respect" for Ms Alexander.

He told Brian Taylor: "I have got the utmost admiration for Wendy and the problems she went through.

"I have the utmost respect for her and I thoroughly enjoy her encounters whenever we have them.

"I have the utmost regard for Wendy and I will continue to have it and that remains my position."


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