The slow rise and abrupt fall of Gordon Brown
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Last Updated: Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 17:41
  
London: It was never meant to be like this, a slow rise and an abrupt fall.

Gordon Brown waited for 10 years before he finally became Prime Minister in the summer of 2007, and would have liked to stay on for at least 10 years in 10, Downing Street.

That was, until the May 6 elections cut short his tenancy in Britain's most famous residential address.

Brown always saw himself as more competent and capable than Tony Blair, who held office for a record 10 years from 1997 to 2007.

Throughout that period, Brown hung on with a grim face as Chancellor, waiting for Blair to abdicate in his favour.

Brown's decision to step down as Labour leader brings to the fore another example ? if more were needed ? of Enoch Powell's famous dictum that 'all political careers end in failure'.

Britons love their prime ministers and leaders ? but only after they resign, present the picture of spiders caught in their own webs and move away from public gaze.

The commenterati has already started writing Brown's political obituary and discovering virtues in him.

Perhaps not many within the Labour party and outside will miss Brown, but one person who will notice his absence is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who developed a rapport with Brown when he visited India in January 2007.

Both Brown and Singh are dour economists, and Brown has been among the first British politicians to recognise the opportunities and challenges India presents to Britain's economy.

First as Chancellor and then as Prime Minister, India figured prominently in his speeches inside and outside the House of Commons, as he particularly focused on India's growing role in global issues such as climate change.

Brown and Manmohan Singh share a strong academic background in economics: both have doctorates in the subject, Brown from the Edinburgh University and Singh from Oxford.

Singh served as India's finance minister before becoming the prime minister. Brown has trodden the same path en route to 10, Downing Street.

Brown has been a regular in meetings of the Labour Friends of India, a lobby within the Labour party comprising MPs, ministers and party leaders.

At a recent meeting of the group, he said: "I value my contacts with India and want to convey my thanks to Labour Friends of India for the constructive and positive role it plays in parliament".

Born in 1951, Brown was educated at Kirkcaldy High School and Edinburgh University, where he gained First Class Honours and then a Doctorate.

He was Rector of Edinburgh University and Chairman of the University Court between 1972 and 1975.

From 1976 to 1980, Brown lectured at Edinburgh University and then Caledonian University before taking up a post at Scottish TV (1980 - 1983).

After becoming an MP, Brown was the Chair of the Labour Party Scottish Council. Before becoming Shadow Chancellor in 1992 he held two other senior posts on the Opposition front bench - Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary.

Brown has had a number of works published including Maxton, The Politics of Nationalism and Devolution and Where There is Greed. He has also edited a number of books including John Smith: Life and Soul of the Party and Values, Visions and Voices.

Brown's PhD thesis was titled 'Labour's struggle to establish itself as the alternative to the Conservatives (in the early part of the 20th century)'.

For a while, he lectured at the Edinburgh and Caledonian universities, and also had a brief stint as a journalist at Scottish TV in the early 1980s.

Brown, a Scot, was elected to parliament as a Labour MP for Dunfermline East in 1983, and became the opposition spokesman on trade and industry in 1985.

He was the 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 one of those tipped as a potential party leader.

It has long been rumoured that a deal was struck between Blair and Brown at the Granita restaurant in Islington, in which Blair promised to give Brown control of economic policy in return for Brown not standing against him in the leadership election.

Brown has headed the Treasury since 1997.

In June 2004, he became Britain's longest continuously serving Chancellor of the Exchequer since the 1820s, overtaking David Lloyd George who served for seven years and 43 days between 1908 and 1915.

With an image of a workaholic, serious and sombre politician, Brown's record has been hailed across party lines as the 'Iron Chancellor'.

Wrote Michael White in The Guardian: "The paradox of Brown's career is that of a man blessed with intellectual gifts, drive and ambition who was simultaneously cursed with a debilitating self-doubt which easily turned to mistrust and suspicion of all but the most devoted allies".

He added: "Few of Gordon Brown's friends and admirers would have predicted during his dominant decade as chancellor that his life's journey from the Presbyterian manse in Kirkcaldy to No 10 would end in such a painful exit".

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 17:41


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