Gordon Brown

Release date:
Aug 12, 2016

Gordon Brown, in full James Gordon Brown, (born February 20, 1951, Glasgow, Scotland), Scottish-born British Labour Party politician who served as chancellor of the Exchequer(1997–2007) and prime minister of the United Kingdom (2007–10). At the time of his elevation to prime minister, he had been the longest continuously serving chancellor of the Exchequer since the 1820s.

Early Life And Early Political Career

Brown was the son of John Brown, a Labour Party-supporting Church of Scotlandminister, 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 titled 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, 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 stepped aside, reportedly after Blair agreed to support Brown as his eventual successor. Speculation that a deal had been reached was confirmed by Brown in a 2010 interview, though he stated that the decision had not been made at a meeting in Granita, a London restaurant, as previously thought. In 1994 Blair won the party’s leadership, and Brown was subsequently reappointed by Blair as Labour’s shadow chancellor.