Brown, Gordon


Brown, Gordon
▪ 2008

born Feb. 20, 1951, Glasgow, Scot.

      On June 27, 2007, after serving 10 years as one of the U.K.'s most successful chancellors of the Exchequer (equivalent to the finance minister in most countries), Gordon Brown achieved his long-held ambition of becoming prime minister when his old friend Tony Blair stepped down. Within hours of taking over as prime minister, Brown faced the first of a series of crises—a threat of terrorism, followed within weeks by floods, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and a run on a major bank—and won widespread praise for handling them all calmly and effectively. He lost much of the credit he had built up, however, by seeming to dither over whether to call an early election to secure his own mandate and by finally rejecting the idea in early October when the opinion polls turned against him.

      Brown was the son of a Labour Party-supporting Church of Scotland minister, from whom he acquired his moral and political stance. Brown entered Parliament in 1983 as MP for Dunfirmline East, an industrial constituency near Glasgow. Brown and Blair, another new MP, were quickly identified as the two brightest Labour Party stars of their generation. Brown was initially regarded as the more senior figure, but by 1994 when then party leader John Smith died suddenly, Blair had overtaken Brown as the favoured candidate of Labour MPs, party activists, and the wider public.

      Brown reluctantly agreed to stand aside and leave Blair with a clear run as the “modernizer” candidate. In return, Blair agreed that Brown would be chancellor when Labour returned to power, with enhanced powers to oversee broad swathes of domestic economic and social policy. When Labour won the 1997 general election, Blair was named prime minister and was true to his word. Brown's first act as chancellor was a bold one: to give independence to the Bank of England to set interest rates. For the next decade Brown waited with mounting impatience for Blair to step aside; meanwhile, he presided over an economy with low inflation, cheap home mortgages, rising employment, and steady growth.

      In May 2007 Blair finally announced his intention to resign as prime minister and as Labour leader. Brown was the only candidate for party leader to receive sufficient nominations from his fellow MPs and was duly proclaimed the party's new leader on June 24. Three days later Brown took over as prime minister. Initially he changed few government policies, but he and Foreign Secretary David Miliband (Miliband, David ) did establish a new, more cautious relationship with the United States. In late July Brown visited U.S. Pres. George W. Bush and made clear his intention to reduce the number of British troops in Iraq and to do this, if necessary, independently of U.S. wishes. This display of independence proved to be immensely popular in the U.K.

Peter Kellner

▪ 1999

      When Tony Blair became the U.K.'s prime minister on May 2, 1997, he appointed his long-standing friend and ally Gordon Brown chancellor of the Exchequer. Brown swiftly established himself as the Cabinet's second most important member, both by taking control of almost all policies concerned with the U.K.'s domestic economy and by sustaining close, personal links to Blair that no other Cabinet minister could match. In October 1998, as chairman of the Group of Seven's subgroup of finance ministers, Brown extended his influence and played a key role in helping to establish new international mechanisms to stabilize world financial markets.

      Born in Glasgow, Scot., on Feb. 20, 1951, Brown was the son of a Labour Party-supporting Church of Scotland minister. At the age of 16, Brown was the youngest person since World War II to win a scholarship to the University of Edinburgh, where he immersed himself in student politics. He was also an enthusiastic rugby player until he lost the sight in one eye, the delayed result of an accident in a school rugby game. In 1974 Brown helped organize the campaign to elect Robin Cook to Parliament. By the time the two men entered the Cabinet together 23 years later (with Cook as foreign secretary), they had become rivals. Their hostility dated from the ill-fated 1979 campaign for limited self-government for Scotland, when they fought on opposite sides—Brown supporting a "yes" vote in that year's referendum, and Cook opting for a "no" vote. In 1998, after a successful vote on devolution, Brown campaigned against the extreme Scottish Nationalists.

      Brown entered Parliament in 1983 as MP for Dunfermline East, an industrial constituency near Glasgow. He became friends with Tony Blair, another new MP, and the two soon found themselves at the forefront of the campaign to modernize Labour's political philosophy, replacing the dream of state socialism with a more pragmatic, market-friendly strategy. Brown, two years older than Blair, was widely regarded as the senior half of the partnership and the one more likely eventually to become party leader. By the time then-Labour leader John Smith died in 1994, however, Blair had overtaken Brown as the favoured candidate of party activists and the wider public.

      Brown reluctantly agreed to step aside and allow Blair to run as the "modernizer" candidate. After Blair won, he reappointed Brown Labour's shadow chancellor (a post that Smith had first given him two years earlier). Labour's landslide victory in the 1997 general election propelled Brown into the treasury, where he immediately made his mark by ceding the power to set interest rates to the Bank of England. Brown set out to establish a reputation for prudent economic management. He disappointed many Labour supporters by largely retaining for the first two years the strict public-spending policies he inherited from the Conservatives, but by July 1998 he had drawn up new plans that allowed for significantly more spending on health, education, and overseas aid, starting in 1999.

PETER KELLNER

* * *

▪ prime minister of United Kingdom
in full  James Gordon Brown 
born Feb. 20, 1951, Glasgow, Scot.
 
 Scottish-born British Labour Party politician who served as chancellor of the Exchequer (1997–2007) and prime minister of the United Kingdom (2007– ). At the time of his elevation to prime minister, he had been the longest continuously serving chancellor of the Exchequer since the 1820s.

      Brown was the son of John Brown, a Labour Party–supporting Church of Scotland minister, and Elizabeth Brown. At age 16 he won a scholarship to the University of Edinburgh (the youngest student to enter the university since World War II), where he immersed himself in student politics, eventually becoming chair of the university's Labour club. Having earned a degree with honours in 1972, he served as a university lecturer, first at Edinburgh (1975–76) and then at Glasgow College of Technology (now part of Glasgow Caledonian University; 1976–80). Brown left academia for an appointment at Scottish TV (1980–83), where he was a journalist and editor in the current affairs department. In 1982 he completed a doctorate in history at Edinburgh; his dissertation was entitled The Labour Party and Political Change in Scotland, 1918–29.

      In 1974 Brown had helped organize the parliamentary campaign to elect Robin Cook, who would later serve in government with Brown as foreign minister (1997–2001) and leader of the House of Commons (2001–03). Brown himself unsuccessfully stood for election to the House of Commons in 1979 for a seat representing Edinburgh before winning a seat in Parliament in 1983 as MP for Dunfermline East. He became friends with Tony Blair (Blair, Tony), another new MP, and the two soon found themselves at the forefront of the campaign to modernize Labour's political philosophy, replacing the goal of state socialism with a more pragmatic, market-friendly strategy. From 1987 he served in Labour's shadow cabinet, first as shadow chief secretary to the Treasury and then as shadow trade and industry secretary. In 1992, following Labour's fourth successive electoral defeat, Brown was named shadow chancellor of the Exchequer by John Smith, then the Labour Party leader. Brown was widely regarded as the senior half of the Blair-Brown partnership and the one more likely to eventually become party leader. When Smith died in 1994, however, Blair had overtaken Brown as the favoured candidate of party activists and the wider public. Brown reluctantly agreed to step aside (reportedly at a meeting in Granita, a London restaurant), and in 1994 Blair won the party's leadership. Brown was subsequently reappointed by Blair as Labour's shadow chancellor.

      In the 1997 general election, Labour won a landslide victory, and Blair became prime minister. Brown was subsequently named chancellor of the Exchequer, and he swiftly took control of almost all policies concerned with the United Kingdom's domestic economy. He immediately made his mark by ceding the power to set interest rates to the Bank of England (England, Bank of), and in October 1997 he announced a set of five key economic tests that would have to be met before Britain adopted the euro (he was generally considered more skeptical than Blair regarding Britain's joining the euro). Brown disappointed many Labour supporters by largely retaining for the first two years the strict public-spending policies he inherited from the Conservatives, but by July 1998 he had drawn up new plans that allowed for significantly more spending on health, education, and overseas aid, starting in 1999. In October 1998, as chairman of the Group of Seven's subgroup of finance ministers, Brown extended his influence and played a key role in helping to establish new international mechanisms to stabilize world financial markets. Under his leadership, Great Britain experienced a period of relatively steady economic growth, but increased public spending and government borrowing became growing concerns. Brown had a strong interest in international economics; he served as the United Kingdom's governor of the International Monetary Fund and as chair of the organization's primary decision-making committee and was instrumental in brokering a European agreement in 2005 that would double foreign aid to developing countries. He also set out a policy aimed at environmental sustainability, arguing that for too long economic priorities and environmental protection were seen as mutually exclusive and that instead “economic objectives and our environmental objectives now increasingly reinforce each other.”

  The relationship between Blair and Brown had grown somewhat strained, with many loyal to Blair claiming that Brown's supporters had been undermining Blair's leadership for several years (indeed, in June 2007 a leaked document surfaced showing that Blair had considered removing Brown as chancellor of the Exchequer after the 2005 election). In September 2006, shortly after the Labour Party fared poorly in location elections—blamed in part on the party's support of the Iraq War—Blair announced that he would step down as prime minister within a year. Brown subsequently pledged his support for Blair, and Blair in turn later backed Brown to succeed him as Labour Party leader and prime minister. Brown faced no opposition in the campaign to succeed Blair as Labour Party leader, and on June 27, 2007, three days after he officially became Labour Party leader, Brown became prime minister. He pledged to make reform of the National Health Service a major priority, to retain the various public-sector reforms that had been implemented by Blair, and to “wage an unremitting battle against poverty.” In foreign policy, Brown argued that the global fight against terrorism “involves more than military force,” and though he had close ties with the United States and had been seen as somewhat more skeptical than Blair of many aspects of the European Union (EU), it was anticipated that he would pursue a course that focused British policy on its interests rather than on developing a closer relationship with either the United States or the EU.

      In 2000 Brown married Sarah Macaulay. He has written several books, including The Politics of Nationalism and Devolution (1980; with H.M. Drucker); Maxton (1986); Where There Is Greed (1989); and John Smith (1994; with James Naughtie).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Brown, Gordon — (1951– )    Gordon Brown was elected as a Member of Parliament for the constituency of Dunfermline East and following a reorganisation of parliamentary constituencies in Scotland was elected to Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. He became head of HM… …   Glossary of UK Government and Politics

  • John Brown Gordon — Infobox Military Person name= John Brown Gordon lived= February 6, 1832 – Dda|1904|1|9|1832|2|6 placeofbirth= Upson County, Georgia placeofdeath= Miami, Florida caption= Gen. J.B. Gordon nickname= allegiance=United States of America Confederate… …   Wikipedia

  • John Brown Gordon — John B. Gordon John Brown Gordon (* 6. Februar 1832 im Upson County, Georgia; † 9. Januar 1904 in Miami, Florida) war Jurist, General des konföderierten Heeres und nach dem Bürgerkrieg Pol …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gordon Brown — P …   Wikipedia Español

  • Gordon Brown (rugby union) — Gordon Brown Full name Gordon Lamont Brown Date of birth 1 November 1947(1947 11 01) Place of birth Troon, Scotland Date of death 19 March 2001(2001 03 19) (aged 53) …   Wikipedia

  • Gordon S. Brown — Gordon Stanley Brown (August 30, 1907 in Australia – August 23, 1996 in Tucson, Arizona) was a professor of electrical engineering at MIT. He originated many of the concepts behind automatic feedback control systems and the numerical control of… …   Wikipedia

  • Gordon Brown (joueur de rugby) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Brown. Gordon Lamont Brown, est né le 1er novembre 1947 à Troon (Écosse). C’est un joueur de rugby à XV, il est décédé le 19 mars 2001 à Ayr. Il était très populaire et très apprécié, avec un grand sens de l… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gordon brown (joueur de rugby) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Brown. Gordon Lamont Brown, est né le 1er novembre 1947 à Troon (Écosse). C’est un joueur de rugby à XV, il est décédé le 19 mars 2001 à Ayr. Il était très populaire et très apprécié, avec un grand sens de l… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gordon Brown (footballer born 1929) — Gordon Brown Personal information Full name Gordon Steele Brown[1] Date of birth …   Wikipedia

  • Gordon Brown (footballer born 1932) — Gordon Brown Personal information Full name Gordon Brown Date of birth 4 February 1932 …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.