Useful Notes: Gordon Brown
Thank God that's o'er wae.
"You might have liked Tony more... but you'll hate my wife less."
"In the news this week, the polls continue to slide for Gordon Brown and some people are saying he's dead and buried. But I think the opposite — I say GORDON'S ALIVE!!!"
(a scene later)
For ten years between 1997 and 2007 Gordon Brown was the dull but, generally, steady pair of hands at the controls of the British economy. Then he became Prime Minister.
History may well record this as one of the worst job moves ever.
In this age of media, poor Gordon had a major disadvantage: he was boring. There is no way around this. Being boring, dull and careful are virtues for a Chancellor but a handicap for a Head of Government. His popularity became so low that at the D-Day memorial celebrations British Veterans, who had clapped politely for the German Chancellor, booed and jeered their own Prime Minister, admittedly in the midst of an expenses scandal which had severely reduced the public's opinion of their MPs, if they were naive enough to be disappointed by the appalling tales that came around. Possibly the only PM since Spencer Perceval
to have his entire Cabinet as The Starscream
, although his old rival and Business Secretary Peter Mandelson
and Foreign Secretary (as well as former crony of Tony Blair
) David Miliband really stand out. Because of this he was seen as a bit of a Woobie
in some quarters.
He actually holds a doctorate from Edinburgh university, but no one refers to him as Dr. Brown
, because it sounds a bit silly, even for a country where the armed forces were led by General Sir Michael Jackson
and Air Chief Marshal Sir Graham "Jock" Stirrup. Gordon Brown has the distinction of being only the fifth Prime Minster to have attended a university other than Oxford or Cambridge
(along with the Earl of Bute, The Viscount Palmerston
, Lord John Russell
and Neville Chamberlain
), and the third to have attended Edinburgh (after Palmerston and Russell, although Russell never graduated; another eleven Prime Ministers didn't go to university).
He was blinded in one eye after a rugby accident in his youth and later discovered that he has two small tears in his other eye, but they are not serious enough to require surgery.
Shortly after replacing Tony Blair
as Prime Minister - the latter had stood down - Brown came close to calling a general election, going so far as to unofficially brief the media that this was imminent. Ultimately a mixture of poor polls and by-election results convinced Labour that their majority would be significantly cut, and the election was nipped in the bud despite the fact that he was reasonably popular during the first stages of the economic crisis, which led to accusations that he was a "bottler
". Although Blair had benefited from a string of unappealing
Conservative leaders of the opposition, Brown found himself up against the relatively young and media-savvy David Cameron
. Rumours of bullying, smear campaigns, an addiction to anti-depressants, and an apparent inability to acknowledge a role in an ongoing financial crisis alienated the British public and, even more damagingly, the media that Tony Blair had so carefully courted.
He eventually served as Prime Minister for almost three years, until 11 May 2010, seeing out the remainder of the term that Tony Blair had won. The election on the previous Thursday, 6 May, had resulted in no party gaining overall control of the House of Commons, leaving the Liberal Democrats holding the balance of power and the Conservatives with most votes and seats, after a campaign that saw Brown get overheard on microphone calling a woman "bigoted." note
Brown stayed on waiting to see there would be a Conservative-Liberal Democrat deal as per the rules of British elections which state that until a new PM is declared the old one has to stay in office no matter how badly he lost. A Labour-Lib Dem agreement looked briefly possible when Brown stepped down as Labour leader, but the parliamentary mathematics (which would have needed Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru support for an overall majority) never really added up, and that there was no clear leader to direct the negotiations with the Lib Dems also reportedly damaged their chances. (The Lib Dems were mainly using the possibility of an agreement with Labour to extract concessions from the Conservatives anyway, according to Andrew Rawnsley.)
He resigned and was succeeded by David Cameron
, ending 13 years of Labour rule.
Famously, he once accidentally claimed to have "saved the world".
(50 seconds into the video.) More recently, some commentators have credited him with saving the United Kingdom. During the final days before the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, the No campaign managed to get his motor running again and he delivered a widely-praised barnstorming speech
Gordon Brown provides examples of:
Media provides the following examples of Gordon Brown: