Monday, September 10, 2007
James Gordon Brown (born 20 February 1951) is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the First Lord of the Treasury, the Minister for the Civil Service and the Leader of the Labour Party. He became Leader of the Labour Party on 24 June 2007, and was appointed to his government posts on 27 June 2007. Until then he served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under Tony Blair from 1997 to 2007 and has been the Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath since 1983.
Early life and career before parliament
Brown was elected to Parliament on his second attempt as a Labour MP for Dunfermline East in 1983 general election and became opposition spokesman on Trade and Industry in 1985. In 1986, he published a biography of the Independent Labour Party politician James Maxton, the subject of his Ph.D. thesis. Brown was Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 1987 to 1989 and then Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, before becoming Shadow Chancellor in 1992.
After the sudden death of Labour leader John Smith in May 1994, Brown was tipped as a potential party leader,
Election to parliament and opposition
See also Chancellorship of Gordon Brown
Brown's 10 years and 2 months as Chancellor of the Exchequer set several records. He was the longest-serving Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer ever, and the longest continuous serving Chancellor of the Exchequer since Nicholas Vansittart, Chancellor from 1812 to 1823. However, William Gladstone was Chancellor for a total of 12 years and 4 months in four distinct terms between 1852 and 1882.
The Prime Minister's website singles out three achievements in particular from Brown's decade as Chancellor: presiding over "the longest ever period of growth", making the Bank of England independent and delivering an agreement on poverty and climate change at the G8 summit in 2005.
Brown as Chancellor of the Exchequer
Bank of England independence On taking office as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown gave the Bank of England operational independence in monetary policy, and thus responsibility for setting interest rates.
Tax In the 1997 election and subsequently, Brown pledged to not increase the basic or higher rates of income tax. Over his Chancellorship, he reduced the starting rate from 20% to 10% in 1999 before abolishing the starting rate in 2007, and reduced the basic rate from 23% to 20%. However, in all but his final budget, Brown increased the tax thresholds in line with inflation, rather than earnings, resulting in fiscal drag. Corporation tax fell under Brown, from a main rate of 33% to 28%, and from 24% to 19% for small businesses. On 20 April 2006, in a speech to the United Nations Ambassadors, Brown outlined a "Green" view of global development. Acts as Chancellor
Growth Brown states that his Chancellorship had seen the longest period of sustained economic growth in the history of the United Kingdom, The Treasury contend that this tax change was crucial to long-term economic growth. Analysis of policies as Chancellor
Higher education In 2000, Brown started a political row about higher education (referred to as the Laura Spence Affair) when he accused the University of Oxford of elitism in its admissions procedures, describing its decision not to offer a place to state school pupil Laura Spence as "absolutely outrageous". Other policy stances as Chancellor
Main articles Labour Party leadership election, 2007 and Timeline for the Labour Party leadership elections, 2007
In October 2004 Tony Blair announced he would not lead the party into a fourth general election, but would serve a full third term. Political controversy over the relationship between Brown and Blair continued up to and beyond the 2005 election, which Labour won with a reduced parliamentary majority and reduced vote share. The two campaigned together but the British media remained – and remain – full of reports on their mutual acrimony.
Blair, under pressure from within his own party, announced on 7 September 2006 that he would step down within a year. This was especially picked-up on by the British media as the comments were made on the eve of Brown's budget report.
Run up to succeeding Blair
In his resignation speech on 10 May 2007, Tony Blair stated he would stand down as Prime Minister on 27 June. After years of speculation, Gordon Brown formally announced on 11 May his bid for the Labour leadership. Brown launched his campaign website the same day as formally announcing his bid for leadership "Gordon Brown for Britain". On 16th, the Wednesday following this announcement it became clear no other candidate would gain enough nominations to get on the ballot paper with Brown. On Channel 4 news on 16 May 2007 it was announced Andrew Mackinlay had nominated Brown giving him 308 nominations, sufficient to avoid a leadership contest. He formally became Leader of the Labour party at a special Party Conference held in Manchester on 24 June.
Bid for Labour Leadership
See also Premiership of Gordon Brown
Brown ceased to be Chancellor and, upon the approval of HM Queen Elizabeth II, became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 27 June 2007. Like all Prime Ministers, Brown concurrently serves as the First Lord of the Treasury and the Minister for the Civil Service, is a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and, hence, also a Privy Counsellor. He is also Leader of the Labour Party and Member of Parliament for the constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.
Brown as Prime Minister
Brown has been careful not to suggest that there will be any U-turns in the key areas of Blair's social policy, or any radical breakaway from New Labour. He has, however, proposed a different style of government to Blair's sometimes-criticised "presidential-style" government. Policies
Brown remains committed to the Iraq War, but said in a speech in May 2007 that he would "learn the lessons" from the mistakes made in Iraq.
There has been widespread speculation on the nature of the UK's relationship with the United States under Brown's government. A Washington, D.C. speech by Brown's close aide Douglas Alexander was widely reported as both a policy shift and a message to the US "We will not allow people to separate us from the United States of America in dealing with the common challenges that we face around the world. I think people have got to remember that the relationship between Britain and America and between a British prime minister and an American president is built on the things that we share, the same enduring values about the importance of liberty, opportunity, the dignity of the individual. I will continue to work, as Tony Blair did, very closely with the American administration."
Diplomatic relationship with the US
As a younger man, Brown's girlfriends included the journalist Sheena McDonald
Married life and family
Brown received honorary degrees from the University of Edinburgh in 2003 and Newcastle University in 2007 (DCL). He received an Honorary Doctorate alongside Alan Greenspan from New York University in 2006.
The link between Brown's brother Andrew and one of the main nuclear lobbyists EDF has caused some controversy
Controversy in links to nuclear industry
Gordon Brown has been criticised for deception, after the Treasury admitted he had not kept his promise to switch to an environmentally friendly ministerial car.
Choice of ministerial car
In a speech given to the Labour Friends of Israel in April 2007, Brown stated:
"Many of you know my interest in Israel and in the Jewish community has been long-standing... My father was the chairman of the Church of Scotland's Israel Committee. Not only as I've described to some of you before did he make visits on almost two occasions a year for 20 years to Israel – but because of that, although Fife, where I grew up, was a long way from Israel with no TV pictures to link us together – I had a very clear view from household slides and projectors about the history of Israel, about the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people, about the enormous suffering and loss during the Holocaust, as well as the extraordinary struggle that he described to me of people to create this magnificent homeland."
Views on Israel
Brown was played by David Morrissey in the Stephen Frears directed TV movie The Deal and by Peter Mullen in the TV movie The Trial of Tony Blair.
Private Eye features a comic strip The Broonites (a parody of The Broons) parodying Gordon Brown.
British Radio presenter Nick Abbot plays a sound effect of Darth Vader because of the way Gordon Brown's jaw appears to detach as he breathes in. Depictions of Brown in popular culture
Brown as Chancellor
UK general elections: 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2005, subsequent election
Labour Party leadership election, 2007
Cabinet of the United Kingdom
Chancellorship of Gordon Brown See also
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