Gordon Brown

From Academic Kids

This article is about the British Chancellor of the Exchequer. For the rugby player of the same name, see Gordon Brown (rugby player)

Missing image
Gordon Brown at the IMF Annual Meeting on September 24, 2000.

The Right Honourable James Gordon Brown (born February 20, 1951) is a Scottish Labour Party politician. He has been MP for Dunfermline East from 1983 - 2005, and Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath from 2005 following a major revison in the composition of parliamentary constituencies in Scotland. Brown has served as Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom since May 1997 (the longest serving continuous Chancellor since Nicholas Vansittart 1812-1823).


Early and private life

Brown was born in Glasgow and educated at Kirkcaldy High School. While at school he suffered detached retinas in a rugby accident and despite a series of operations he is blind in his left eye. Brown studied history at Edinburgh University, where he gained First Class Honours and then a Doctorate.

Even before entering Parliament, Brown had achieved some renown: he was elected Rector of Edinburgh University and Chairman of the University Court while still a student, and edited The Red Paper on Scotland. Brown lectured at that university and then at Caledonian University before working as a journalist at Scottish Television. In 1986, he wrote a biography of the Independent Labour Party politician James Maxton.

Brown married Sarah Macaulay at his home in North Queensferry, Fife on 3 August 2000 after a four-year courtship. Mrs Brown is a public relations executive and was, until 2001, Chief Executive of Hobsbawm Macaulay, the consultancy she owned with Julia Hobsbawm. On 28 December 2001, a daughter Jennifer Jane was born prematurely; Jennifer Jane died 8 January 2002. Their second child, a son John, was born on 17 October 2003.

Early Parliamentary career

Brown says that one of the factors which pushed him into politics was a desire to help the poorest people. He was elected to Parliament as a Labour MP in 1983, becoming opposition spokesman on Trade and Industry in 1985, then Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, before becoming Shadow Chancellor in 1992.

After the sudden death of John Smith, Brown was tipped as a potential party leader, but he stepped aside and allowed Tony Blair to become leader. It has long been rumoured that a deal was struck between the two men at the Granita restaurant in Islington, and that Blair promised to retire at some future date, allowing Brown to become Prime Minister. Whether this is true or not, the relationship between Blair and Brown has been central to the fortunes of "New Labour", and they have by and large remained united in public despite reported rifts.

As Shadow Chancellor, Brown worked hard to establish an image of fiscal competence, and to reassure business and the middle class that Labour could be trusted to run the economy without fuelling inflation. "Prudence" became Brown's catchphrase, and he cultivated a dour and even miserly air, though he is apparently known to friends and constituents as a good-humoured and romantic man. He also committed Labour to following the Conservatives' spending plans for the first two years after taking power.

Chancellor of the Exchequer

Missing image
Gordon Brown speaking at the Urban Summit in 2002

On taking office as Chancellor, Brown sprung a surprise by giving the Bank of England operational independence in the conduct of monetary policy, and thus responsibiltiy for setting interest rates. On fiscal matters, he is regarded as having an unusually strong influence over the details of the government's spending plans. While he has adhered to Labour's election pledge to make no increases to the standard or higher rates of income tax, the conjunction of his decisions to align the national insurance threshold with the income tax threshold and then increase the national insurance rate without regard to the upper earnings limit by one percentage point has had substantially the same effect except for investment income and pensions in payment. This action, together with the increase in the tax share of national income on a cyclically adjusted basis, accounts for the recurrent accusations that Brown has faced of imposing "stealth taxes".

He is widely viewed as less enthusiastically pro-euro than most in the Blair government, and apparent rifts have occurred between him and more europhile members of Cabinet (such as Peter Hain and Jack Straw).

Brown's lengthy period as Chancellor of the Exchequer has set several records. He is the longest-serving Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer (ahead of Denis Healey, who was Chancellor for 5 years and 2 months from March 5 1974 to May 4 1979). On 15 June 2004, he became the longest continuous serving Chancellor of the Exchequer since the Reform Act 1832, passing the figure of seven years and 43 days set by David Lloyd George (19081915). However, William Gladstone was Chancellor for a total of 12 years and 4 months in the period from 1852 to 1882 (although not continuously). As he has commented upon on several occasions, his Chancellorship has overseen the longest period of sustained economic growth in the UK, though it is more difficult to demonstrate that his policies have been the major cause of this; the first twenty quarters were under the previous Conservative government.

In May 2004, opinion polling suggested that Labour would only win a parliamentary majority at the next general election if Gordon Brown were leader instead of Tony Blair1. In the same month John Prescott and Brown attended a ceremony in Scotland to commemorate John Smith and were photographed sitting together in a car. It is speculated that Blair and Prescott agreed some form of pact and Prescott claimed "the tectonic plates are shifting", but in October 2004 Tony Blair announced his intention to serve out a full third term. The resignation of David Blunkett in December 2004 removed one of Brown's main challengers in a prospective leadership contest and so revived speculation over a leadership succession. Brown has for some time promoted the cause of acting to reduce Third World Debt and following the Asian Tsunami Disaster this has positioned Brown well inside the curve of popular opinion in the UK. Political controversy over the relationship between Brown and Blair in advance of the prospective UK general election, 2005 continued into January 2005.

The two appear to have temporarily put their differences behind them in order to win the 2005 election, frequently appearing on the campaign trail together. The Labour party has even produced a faintly ridiculous election broadcast, showing the two debating policy and making jokes about their 'troubled' relationship.

On 11 April, 2005 Brown was listed in Time Magazine's annual list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. Interestingly, his sometime friend and sometime rival, Tony Blair, was not included, despite holding a more important role. This could be attributed to Brown's role in the upcoming G8 summit.


  1. BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3697615.stm)
  2. Boston Globe - Brown's views on global warming (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/03/25/hot_air_and_global_warming/)

[1] (http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/vote2005/html/712.stm) 2005 election results page for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath



  • Brown, Gordon (1989). Where There's Greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain's Future. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1851582282.
  • Brown, Gordon (ed.); Cook, Robin (ed.) (1987). Scotland: The Real Divide - Poverty and Deprivation in Scotland. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 0906391180.
  • Brown, Gordon (1986). Maxton: A Biography. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1851580425.



  • Rawnsley, Andrew (2001). Servants of the people: The inside story of New Labour. Penguin Books. ISBN 0140278508.

External links

Preceded by:
Kenneth Clarke
Chancellor of the Exchequer
Succeeded by:
Current Incumbent

Template:End boxde:Gordon Brown eo:Gordon BROWN fr:Gordon Brown sv:Gordon Brown zh:戈登·布朗


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