Useful Notes: Gordon Brown

"No Flash" Gordon.

Gordon Brown is British politician, for ten years between 1997 and 2007 Gordon Brown was the pair of hands at the controls of the British economy. Then he became Prime Minister.

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 (Members of Parliament).

Was generally seen by the public as boring, grumpy and generally unlikable all through his career, a perception that he never managed to escape. Being placed up against two kings of spin, David Cameron and Tony Blair did not help, an attempt to compete with them in the 2010 elections became infamous for his painful Un-Smile and clear discomfort in front of a camera. Also struggled with a reputation of being The Starscream, his rivalry with Blair heavily played up in the media.

He holds a doctorate from Edinburgh university. 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.

In a gaffe of Al Gore proportions, he once 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. As for the mainland, the British economy showed itself to be a poor fit for the euro and opted to stick with the pound, which was all down to Gordon's "Five-Point" quiz (which the euro flunked). This was during a time when the UK was criticized for lobbing a wrench into the Europe project. Doesn't look like such a bad call in hindsight.

Media provides the following examples of Gordon Brown:

  • Gordon Brown appears in Captain Britain and MI13, one of the "Secret Invasion" tie-ins revolving around Captain Britain and the Skrull Invasion of Britain. He gives the main characters the orders to secure the source of British magic, or something like that. Notable, as much as anything, for the response it raised in the media, which ranged from mild amusement to outright disgust.
  • He is played by David Morrissey in the 2003 TV film The Deal.
  • Private Eye have two separate Brown parodies, one in which he releases Soviet-esque "Prime Ministerial Decrees" (a reference to how one MP said he had "Stalinist Tendencies" in 2007) and a comic strip called The Broon-ites (a parody of The Broons) written in Scots, where the Cabinet are presented as all members of 'Pa Broon'`s extended family. They also did a one-shot parody Peanuts strip starring Gordon Brown rather than Charlie, ending with Snoopy calling him a loser to which he responds with the traditional "Good Grief!"
  • South Park: "Pinewood Derby" - He appears as one of the world leaders. He's just about recognizable through the South Park animation filter, and unlike The Daily Show, he has the only other accent British people have in America - Cockney lite.
  • Given much better treatment in The Salvation War, where he had the "fortune" to have a far more pressing matter than the late '00s economic crisis happen, that of the biblical apocalypse. And he becomes famous in-universe for being the first world leader to actually respond to the demonic heralds of Hell: "Sod off, Baldrick." using a Blackadder reference to be intentionally dismissive of them. He then formed a coalition government with David Cameron's Tories and will most likely be heading this government throughout the events of the trilogy.
  • In The Thick of It the Invisible President Tom Davis seems to have been based on Brown. We never see him but the other characters point out the similarities:
    Malcolm Tucker: He'll be all right as long as he doesn't do the smile.
  • He is a recurring character in the BBC Radio 4 comedy 15 Minute Musical.
  • Appears in Garth Ennis's Crossed comic as prime minister during the titular infection's initial outbreak, and for much of the comic he struggles with indecisiveness in the face of a viral (and later nuclear) apocalypse. However he does manage to eventually start coordinating an effective response to both, leading to the nuclear threat being averted, and having viable plans to mitigate the damage from the viral threat. The series being what it is though, the latter is rendered sadly moot as the infection inexplicably arises within Brown's bunker, and he is killed moments after said bunker is sealed, leaving the UK leaderless and thus without any coordinated response to the apocalyptic pandemic.