Gordon Brown: Time for Change
Born on 20th February 1951, the son of a Protestant Minister, he was described as a gifted child and was fast-tracked at Kirkcaldy High School, entering Edinburgh University to read history at the age of 16. His interest in politics began early – Gordon Brown stated that his parents’ concern for poor families living in difficulties inspired their three sons to be aware of those less fortunate than themselves.
Therefore he set up a sweet shop and launched a newspaper, The Gazette, to raise funds for Africa and at the age of 12, he was already delivering political leaflets for the Labour Party.
An accident on the rugby field at the end of his last term at school blinded him in one eye (he nearly lost sight in the other also – it has only 30% of vision) and friends say this was a turning point in his life, making him more determined to succeed.
Finishing his degree at the age of 20, Gordon Brown campaigned to be the University Rector (usually reserved for celebrities) and won in 1972, giving him the right to chair the governing body for a three-year period. He went on to become a lecturer of history at the same University and later, politics at Glasgow College of Technology. While working as a lecturer, he wrote his thesis on the 1930s MP James Maxton (The Labour Party and Political Change in Scotland 1918-1928) and in 1975, published a collection of essays on the future of Scotland – The Red Paper for Scotland.
In the 1979 General Election, he stood for Edinburgh South, losing narrowly to the Conservative Minister Michael Ancram and after working in TV and as a journalist, won his first seat, Dunfermline East, in 1983 at 32 years of age.
He was given a tiny office in the houses of parliament, which he shared with another junior politician, Tony Blair. Together, they built a blue-print for Labour’s success, distancing the party from the left-wing Militant Tendency and redefining the Party’s role in British society. Labour leader Neil Kinnock brought the two young men into his Shadow Cabinet. After Kinnock’s defeat, and the death of his successor John Smith, Blair and Brown stood against each other as candidates for the leadership, won by Blair.
However a deal was struck whereby both men continued to work together to get Labour elected – which happened in 1997, Gordon Brown becoming Chancellor – arguably the most powerful and most successful in British history. Granting control of interest rates to the Bank of England and steering the UK to ten successive years of economic growth, he understood that his country was not ready to enter the Eurozone, insisting that five pre-conditions be met before Britain could consider conversion to the Euro.
Determined, competent, gifted. The three words which spring up in all phases of Gordon Brown’s career to date.